There’s a new BBC2 documentary, part of the “Natural World” series, about Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946) and his wolf Lobo, one of the subjects of Seton’s Wild Animals I Have Known. The new documentary isn’t to be confused with the 1962 Disney live action movie, “The Legend of Lobo”.
In The Telegraph, Steve Gooder, director of the new production “Lobo: The Wolf that Changed America” (airing in the UK on April 2nd and again on April 6th), a BBC/WNET Thirteen production narrated by David Attenborough, writes about the documentary and an appreciation of Ernest Thompson Seton:
It was the moment Ernest Thompson Seton had been waiting for. After months of frustration, the professional wolf hunter finally had his quarry in his sights.
He raised his Winchester rifle and prepared to put a bullet between the eyes of “Old Lobo”, a notorious wolf that had killed hundreds of cattle.
But, face to face with his adversary for the first time, something deep within the hunter changed. He slowly lowered his gun and decided to take Lobo back alive.
The year was 1894 and it was a moment that would prove a crucial turning point, not just for Seton, but also for the fate of America’s wilderness and its wild creatures.
British-born Seton had grown up with wolves on the Canadian frontier and written the definitive manual on how to catch them. More than two centuries earlier, his Scottish ancestors had helped wipe out the last of Britain’s wild wolves.
Yet there was another, less bloodthirsty, side to Seton. His backwoods childhood had left him with a real love and fascination for nature and he would eventually go on to become both a leading light in America’s emerging conservation movement and a tireless advocate for the protection of wolves.
It should be on WNET Thirteen and other PBS stations later one, but didn’t have much luck finding any particulars.
It strikes me that the documentary would be well paired with the Library of Congress’s collection on The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920.
We’re big fans Ernest Thompson Seton, who was a naturalist, author, wildlife artist, and founder of the Woodcraft Indians organization as well a founder and first Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts of America. Some of our favorite ETS books from the Farm School bookshelf:
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More Ernest Thompson Seton links:
The Ernest Thompson Seton Pages, maintained by Ron Edmonds; including his biography and also the Blue Skies Today blog, an online journal “designed to provide a community for all people interested in the life, works and philosophy of Ernest Thompson Seton and Woodcraft to share thoughts, writings, poetry, questions and information.” Ron Edmonds at Blue Skies also points you to this audio download of Seton’s “The Wolf That Talked Too Much”.
Works by ETS at Project Gutenberg, including The Arctic Prairies : a Canoe-Journey of 2,000 Miles in Search of the Caribou; Being the Account of a Voyage to the Region North of Aylemer Lake. So far, nothing yet online at LibriVox.org.
Online edition of ETS’s The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indian League of America
The Philmont Museum and Ernest Thompson Seton Memorial Library at the Philmont Scout Ranch (owned by the Boy Scouts) in Cimarron, New Mexico. Seton’s widow Julia donated his personal library and many works of art, including Seton’s painting, Triumph of the Wolves, and also Lobo’s pelt.
Manitoba Author Publication biography
The Seton Centre in Carberry, Manitoba; Seton and his brother lived on a homestead near Carberry in the 1880s and 1890s, and it was here that he began to write. The Mammals of Manitoba was published in 1886, followed by The Birds of Manitoba in 1891. The following year he was appointed Provincial Naturalist.
The Academy of the Love of Learning has a connection to Seton. From the website: “The mission of the Academy for the Love of Learning is to awaken, enliven, nurture and sustain the natural love of learning in people of all ages. We seek to encourage and cultivate the powers of critical thought, imagination, curiosity, innate sense of purpose, wonder and inspiration, and an ongoing awakening of the heart.”
In 2003, the Academy purchased the old Seton Castle, the last residence of ETS, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here’s the link to the online Seton Art Exhibit, planned, it sounds, for later this year; the page does have one work, Seton’s “Sleeping Wolf” painting.
Seton’s biography from the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; with some of his chipmunk illustrations
Paul Giambarba‘s 100 Years of Illustration blog has several recent posts featuring Seton’s artwork: Ernest Thompson Seton’s The American Bison or Buffalo; Ernest Thompson Seton — 2; Ernest Thompson Seton — 3
And, on film:
“The Legend of Lobo”, Walt Disney, 1962; on DVD once upon a time. Check your local library.
“Chico, the Misunderstood Coyote”, Walt Disney, 1961; apparently not generally available in any format
And while CBC Television has produced two shows about Seton — “Ernest Thompson Seton, Keeper of the Wild” (1974) and “Seton’s Manitoba” (1984), both of which seem to have sunk into vaults without a trace — the National Film Board of Canada seems to have ignored him completely. Curious.