How Farley Got His Name

Lynn Johnston with her real life Farley, 1970 (above) and 1972 (below)

From the pen of Lynn Johnston:

"I used to do freelance artwork for a bookstore in Burlington, Ontario called "The Different Drummer." I was asked to do a caricature of Farley Mowat to use in a pamphlet for the store, advertising a signing Farley was to do. I did the drawing and later gave it to him as a souvenir. He was very pleased with it! 

During those early years of freelancing before the evolution of the comic strip, my first husband and I bought an Old English Sheepdog puppy. His grizzled appearance reminded me so much of Farley Mowat that I decided to name the dog "Farley". 

Years later, when the comic strip "Farley" came to be, I received a letter from Farley Mowat himself, saying he strongly suspected the dog had been named for him. I wrote back to say that his suspicions were well founded. He remembered me and still had the caricature. He then charged me a "royalty" of one original Farley Sunday page, which I sent to him and Claire c/o their summer home address in Nova Scotia. His response was that it had gone on the wall in the bathroom - above the porcelain receptacle (where just the men would read it.)

As time passed and For Better or For Worse was released annually in book form, I was sent on promotional tours where I often met Farley Mowat, Don Harron and other prolific Canadian authors. In a green room somewhere, Farley invited me to visit him and Claire on the east coast. My husband and I had a small plane at the time and any excuse for a trip was taken seriously. We stayed with them for a weekend and got to know each other quite well. We have exchanged Christmas cards and letters ever since." 

Today, Lynn Johnston generously allows the Farley Foundation to use the Farley name and image.

Want to see Canadian literary legend Farley Mowat's letter to the Farley Foundation? Click here.