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Canadian Historical Anecdotes - Grey Owl (1888-1938)
Posted 28 September 2011
Transcribed by Sandra Roberts

Following his death [in 1938], it became clear that the renowned Indian author and naturalist was, in fact, an Englishman named Archibald Stansfeld Belaney who had no native blood whatever. The deception had come about gradually and only got out of hand as late as 1931, when he was asked to address a convention in Montreal:

"The following morning (their friend) Sir Charles Delme Radcliff came, carrying a newspaper", according to Grey Owls wife, Anahareo. "It was obvious that he was greatly agitated. Then, showing us the front-page picture of Archie and me that had been taken after the lecture, Sir Charles whacked the paper with the back of his hand and said, 'Just look Anahareo - isn't it ghastly!' Since I had a cold at the time, my face looked like a boxing glove. Then he pointed to the heading across the page. It read, in box car letters: FULL BLODDED INDIAN GIVES LECTURE ON WILDLIFE.

" 'And what are you going to do about that?' asked Sir Charles, pointing to the headline.

"Archie said 'Why nothing, why spoil their little story?'

"Had Archie known how seriously people we're going to take his ancestry, this would have been the time to have clamped down on that 'full blooded Indian' stuff. But how was he to know that the more he wrote, the more Indian he became in the eyes of the public?"

SOURCE: An excerpt from Devil in Deerskins: My Life with Grey Owl by Anahareo. New Press, Toronto, 1972. Though long out of print, used copies of this book can often be found on and

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Norway Bay United & Anglican Cemetery
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The Merivale Cemeteries
(Protestant - Ottawa area)