River Bourgeois residents reflect on summers spent with Farley Mowat
He has been called one of Canada’s best known and best loved authors, but many people in River Bourgeois, N.S. just called him Farley.
“He wasn’t a celebrity when he was here, he was just Farley,” says Farley Mowat’s neighbour, Anne Louise Touesnard.
Mowat and his wife, Claire, spent many summers at their cottage in River Bourgeois and the people there shared a personal connection with the author and environmentalist.
Mowat passed away this week at the age of 92, and now River Bourgeois residents are reflecting on their time with their friend.
In 2007, Mowat donated more than 80 hectares of land to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, with the instructions it never be sold or developed.
The author loved being a part of the Cape Breton community and they quickly adopted him as one of their own.
“He’d laugh, he’d joke, he was definitely, you knew Farley was in the room if you were having a party, but because he was having a good time,” says Touesnard.
Former newspaper editor Sharon Chilvers used to run a weekly newspaper in the community. She says residents always knew when the author was back in town.
“Every time I met him, even in the grocery store, it was, he said, ‘I don’t think I gave you your hug for the summer yet,’” says Chilvers. “And he would give me a hug and the next week I would meet him again and ‘I don’t remember giving you a hug yet,’ so yes again, another hug.”
Touesnard says she knew Mowat for decades, and among her special memories is a copy of ‘And No Birds Sang,’ autographed by the author.
The last time she saw Mowat and his wife, he was hitchhiking outside her home.
“They were totally laughing because the dog had locked them out of the truck,” she recalls.
It appears a local memorial service for Mowat will not be taking place, but thanks to his generous donation, his legacy in the community will live on for generations.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh