The Real Thing - A Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan

A collection of articles, book reviews, and book launch events about The Real Thing by Briony Penn


  1. Author Briony Penn's blog about taking The Real Thing on tour around B.C. Here, she curates comments from audiences around the province about the impact McTaggart Cowan has had on them and how the book continues to inspire the next generation of naturalists.
  2. Sept. 2016 "From his formative years roaming the mountains around Vancouver looking for venison to his last years co-editing the authoritative Birds of British Columbia, Cowan’s life provides a unique perspective on a century of environmental change with a critical message for the future."
  3. Book review by the Canadian Field Naturalist says, "The text reads well, and anyone who reads it all will learn a lot about Cowan and the fauna and flora of British Columbia and nearby regions. Assembling the many photographs was a triumph of archiving that will be appreciated."
  4. “I had been working as a writer and a journalist and I kept coming across all these beautiful British Columbians who were really enthusiastic about the natural world; who were really keen to share their knowledge and who worked hard to protect certain areas,” Penn said. “I would always ask these people what inspired them and many of them said Ian McTaggart Cowan.
    “It was kind of like all roads led to Rome.” Briony Penn
  5. Sept, 2016 Dr. Penn presents her book “The Real Thing: A Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan” and shares stories about Ian McTaggart Cowan who was known as the ‘father of Canadian ecology’. The Cowan Life and Legacy tour is sponsored by Sitka Foundation.
  6. Briony Penn has been awarded the first Mack Laing Literary Prize for The Real Thing A Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan
  7. May, 2016 Briony Penn wins the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional BC Book Prize for The Real Thing: The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan. The Haig-Brown prize recognizes the author of a book contributing most to "the enjoyment and understanding of British Columbia."
  8. March, 2016 The Real Thing: The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan by Briony Penn is up for both the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize and the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize. Winners announced April 30 in Victoria.
  9. Hakai Magazine Jan, 2016 "Cowan started keeping journals as a Boy Scout in 1926. For the next 50 years he recorded species that he found up and down the coast, from California to the Arctic’s Mackenzie Delta. His curiosity, his versatility on the range of animals that he studied, and his stamina in the field were legendary." Briony Penn