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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
September 30, 2016
Canadian Excellence


1994: Linda Johns

The information below is adapted from the news release issued in 1994

A remarkable book about a Nova Scotian artist's relationship with a robin is the winner of the 1994 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction.

The winning book is Sharing a Robin's Life by Linda Johns, published by Nimbus Publishing out of Halifax, NS.

Sharing a Robin's Life is a story that challenges our preconceptions about the lives of birds and the way that humans relate to the natural world around us. It is the story of County (a robin) and Linda Johns (an artist) who developed a truly unique relationship. The lives of robins, although they live in close proximity to humans, are virtually unknown to us. But through the remarkable friendship these two individuals created, we can better understand these creatures in our midst.

When Linda found County, the robin was an ailing baby crouched at the side of the road. When no parents appeared to claim her, Linda brought County home and gave her all the help she would provide to any bird needing care. But this bird refused to leave when she was well enough to be returned to the wild. Sharing a Robin's Life describes the amazing relationship that developed between County and Linda.

During their time together, Linda was able to replicate all the rituals that robins go through in the wild. She provided appropriate food and allowed County the freedom to be a regular robin but in the most irregular of settings–her own house. Every fall she went through a simulated migrating pattern and in the spring Linda would help County build a nest. Their increasingly symbiotic relationship helped to create a bond that allowed Linda entry into a mysterious yet intelligent world–one that has never been described before.

Linda John's story is remarkable in itself, but it also offers valuable insights into nature and robin behaviour–insights that challenge our assumption of being the only animal capable of conscious thought. It also challenges many other premises about the way humans co-exist with nature.

Linda Johns is an artist and naturalist who lives and paints in rural Nova Scotia, surrounded by woodlands, meadows, and birds, in a house she built herself.

Other Publications by Linda Johns: 

  • Birds of a Feather: Tales of a Wild Bird Heaven (2004)
  • Touchstone (2004)
  • Wild and Woolly: Tails from a Woodland Studio (2000)
  • For the Birds: Nature Notes from a Woodland Studio (1999)
  • In the Company of Birds (1995)
  • The Eyes of the Elders (1995)
  • Sharing a Robin's Life (1993)
  • Spiritus (1992)
  • Touching Water, Touching Light (1990)

For more information visit Linda Johns' website