Farley Mowat did not consider himself an artist, but the man responsible for creating his likeness disagrees.

“This is probably the only time I disagree with Farley and have the last word. Farley Mowat was a true artist of the highest calibre,” said George Boileau, the sculptor behind the first-ever statue of the Canadian author, who died just five weeks ago at the age of 92.

Boileau was on hand alongside Mowat’s widow Claire and a grade two class from Saskatoon’s École Lakeview School as the statue was unveiled Wednesday at the University of Saskatchewan.

Boileau became friends with Farley and Claire Mowat over the last four years he spent working on the statue. Farley Mowat was able to see a wax version of the sculpture before he died, but the unveiling was the first time Claire saw the final product.

“I have to tell you it was rather a strange experience because Farley died only five weeks ago, and to see a replica of him was quite moving,” she said.

Mowat, before he died, personally invited the students from École Lakeview School to attend the unveiling. The grade two students had sent him letters.

“He was always delighted to hear from children who read his work and felt moved to write to him,” Claire said.

Farley Mowat’s prolific writing career spanned decades and his body of work was just as diverse. He wrote about life on the prairies, his time as a soldier during the Second World War and about the Canadian north.

His love of nature and his desire to protect it is showcased in the statue with the inclusion of his dog, Chester.

Mowat spent his teenage years in Saskatoon and, according to the University of Saskatchewan, he told Ron Rhodes, a Toronto businessman who commissioned the sculpture and donated it to the university, he wanted the statue placed in the city.