Book Review- The Boat who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowat

By Kaylin Steckly in Poetry & Literature


“Having eschewed the purely factual approach, I was not willing to go to the other extreme and take the easy way out by writing fiction. My métier lay somewhere in between what was then a grey void between fact and fiction.” -Farley Mowat, 1974

Farley Mowat was born in Belleville, ON, in May 1921 and became one of Canada’s most widely read authors. He frequently wrote describing nature and became known as a strong environmental activist. However, some of his books take more of an autobiographical approach, such as the well-known The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, or the less famous The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float.

The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float was published in 1969 and won the Leacock Medal in 1970. It’s the story of a man’s war with a boat that stubbornly refuses to start, float, or go anywhere but alongside a fish factory.

Mowat’s writing is vivid, causing his readers to shiver as he plunges into the icy water of a Newfoundland harbour. The fog rolls across the room and the tiny boat pitches beneath your chair as you struggle to hear the foghorn above the roar of the engine.

The author’s sense of humour plays out as he describes both his struggle with his boat and the Newfoundland people’s struggle to make a decent living. He is smarmy without being disrespectful and is very careful to always the people the benefit of the doubt.

This book brings an appreciation for a slower way of life, where hospitality is the norm and it is ok to spend the day wandering about in search of ancient fortresses.

Next time you’re facing a long Sunday afternoon with nothing to do, grab The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float and settle in for an afternoon of sea and sky.