Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney
Armand Garnet Ruffo
232 pages | 978-1-550501-09-4
**Finalist for the Saskatchewan Book Awards**
Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney is a compelling study of an intriguing character – a white man who assumed a First Nations “voice” to promote his ideas and ideals to an international audience. In turn, the book raises difficult questions about identity and voice, Indigenous culture, human rights and the environment.
Ruffo draws on extensive archival research and family memories – Grey Owl lived for three years with Ruffo's grandmother’s family in the small northern Ontario community of Biscotasing – to offer new insights about the man and his mission. With clear, direct and evocative language, Ruffo writes from Grey Owl’s own perspective as well as from the viewpoints of women he loved and men with whom he worked. The poems detail both his professional achievements and his personal failures.
Ruffo brings a deep understanding of Indigenous thought, excellent research skills and a mature craft to this collection. Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney marks a significant contribution to Indigenous writing and to Canadian literature.
Prairie Fire Review (Sue Sorensen, Prairie Fire Review)
"In a series of poems the contradictory elements of Grey Owl's personality can be related with a deftness and lightness which prose might not have been able to capture. And Grey Owl himself was so mysterious that a non-fiction history in a journalistic or academic style would run the certain danger of misrepresenting the man.... his readability is fitting and has much to recommend it. The photographs throughout are a welcome addition, and one emerges from the book with a real sense of the many-sided nature of Grey Owl."
Review (Maureen McNamee, FFWD)
"Armand Garnett Ruffo's new book is a mystery that the author never attempts to solve. But, some mysteries aren't meant to be solved and, although it is irresistible, perhaps this is one of them."
Review (Fraser Sutherland, Globe and Mail)
"Ruffo narrates the Grey Owl story simply, cleanly, and smoothly.... The poet is at his best when he condenses complex personal history into his own deeply considered meditations or dramatic summaries."
Review (Bill Waiser, CBRA)
"The result is an absorbing portrait of a complicated figure whose determination to spread the message of conservation became the one constant in his life. Despite a number of personal difficulties, including bouts of anxiety, self-doubt, and a weakness for drink, Grey Owl won over audiences on both sides of the Atlantic during two speaking tours in the mid-1930s."
Review (Verne Clemence, Western People)
"Ruffo leaves it to history to judge Grey Owl's moral standards, but he admires the man's message. Grey Owl is an intriguing new examination of a much-examined life, well worth the evening or two required to savor a smooth writing style and an obvious love of language."
About the Author
Armand Garnet Ruffo was born and raised in northern Ontario and draws upon his Ojibwe heritage for much of his writing. A multi-genre writer, he is the author of Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney and Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird, a finalist for the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Awards. His latest collection of poetry is The Thunderbird Poems. Other projects include “Sounding Thunder: The Song of Francis Pegahmagabow,” a musical drama that premiered in the summer of 2018, and “On the Day the World Begins Again,” a short film about Indigenous incarceration that will premiere in October 2018. His writing most recently appeared in ARC Poetry, GRANTA's Canada issue, EVENT and 150, Canada’s History in Poetry (Nimbus Publishing). Ruffo is the recipient of a Honourary Life Member Award from the League of Canadian Poets and an inaugural Mayor’s Arts Award from the City of Kingston. He is currently the Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.
Other Titles by This Author
TREATY # (2019)
At Geronimo's Grave (2002)