Grey Owl: An Icon of Temagami (and Canadian) History

Temagami, Ontario was once home to the world renowned conservationist and author, Grey Owl.

Archie Belany was reputed to be the son of a Scottish father and an Apache mother. In 1906, 17-year-old Belaney arrived at Temagami station, fulfilling a dream to live in the Canadian wilderness among native people. During the next six years, he let his hair grow, learned to speak Ojibway and became an expert in the ways of the forest. By 1912, when he left Temagami for Biscotasing, people accepted him as a native trapper.

Grey-Owl-Gertrude

Grey-Owl
It was his love of Gertrude Bernard (or Anahareo), a young Iroquois Mohawk woman, that inspired Grey Owl to leave his trapping profession behind, for conservation activisim. The relationship caused Grey Owl to think deeply about conservation, and he went on to write about his findings. The couple rescued and raised orphaned beaver kits.

In the 1930's Grey Owl was appointed to Riding Mountain and later to Prince Albert National Park to oversee a beaver conservation program. He wrote four books - Men of the Last Frontier (1931), Pilgrims of the Wild (1934), The Adventures of Sajo and her Beaver People (1935), and Tales of an Empty Cabin (1936) and made several films. He subsequently toured Britain and North America, becoming one of Canada's greatest conservationists and one of the foremost Canadian writers of his day.

After his death in 1938, the North Bay Nugget released their story on Grey Owl's true origin. Many were disillusioned to discover that he was in fact a full blooded Englishman, not of Indian heritage as he had claimed. Nevertheless he made an important contribution to the appreciation of nature and the protection of the beaver. His books remain classics and have been translated into many languages.

Those who visit legendary Northeastern Ontario will find that Temagami and its surrounding region still lie in the pristine beauty that Grey Owl so loved and many still hold to the conservation practises that he spoke of and endorsed.

Plan a Grey Owl Inspired Trip to Temagami

About Jamie McIntyre

Hey! I'm a outdoors enthusiast with a passion for travel in Northeastern Ontario. Check out my articles for ideas on where to travel. 

Recommended Articles

Ontario's Secret Lagoon

Discover paradise just outside of Sudbury

Northern Lights in Northeastern Ontario

5 great spots in The Seven to find the Aurora Borealis.

Complete Guide to Moosonee & Moose Factory Island

12 essential experiences for visitors.

A Guide to Mushroom Hunting

How, when and where to go, and what to look for

Spectres of the Past: A Ghost Town Field Trip

Follow this trail of abandoned communities on a road trip through the history of Northeastern Ontario

Lake Nipissing Fishing Hot Spots

Nipissing is one massive lake with plenty of fishing opportunities to keep anglers exploring.

An Insider's Guide to Manitoulin Island

12 communities, sights, hikes and experiences that most first-time visitors miss!

Fish for one of the World's Rarest Species of Trout

Found only in 12 remote Ontario lakes–and nowhere else in the world–the aurora trout is a special fish.

Best Things to Do in Kirkland Lake: The Town that Gold Built

Check out a self-guided gold mine tour, a northern chateau museum, and get some beach time!

A Moosonee guide to fishing on the Moose River

A local fishing guide knows every nook and cranny of the upper Moose River

Observe the Galaxy Like Never Before

Take in the inky night sky, just outside of the city!

Looking for a unique train-in Vacation? We've got you covered.

Check out this list of all the train-in experiences in Northeastern Ontario.

Foraging Summer's Sweetest Treats

From blueberries to hawberries, our berries are delicious and diverse!

Crossing The Northern divide

You don’t need a passport to hop this border!

11 Best Things to Do in Kapuskasing, Ontario

Gourmet cheese, hammocks in the park, and Canadian-Szechuan cuisine await in this historic lumber town

Stonehenge of the North

Huge boulders aligned with the setting sun on solstice pose more questions than answers.

How to Properly Hold and Handle Fish

Techniques & Tools

3 Easy Weekend Trips from Brampton

Lighthouses, waterfalls, epic hikes, and the world's biggest nickel await on these easy road trips from Brampton to Ontario's north. Plan your summer vacation today!

The Temagami Fire Tower and the Story of Grey Owl

Legendary Adventures with Backroads Bill

A Culinary Tour of Temiskaming Shores

Ontario’s latest culinary hotspot isn’t Scarborough or Hamilton. It’s a tiny city on a lake in Northern Ontario.