Cape Breton friends and neighbours of Farley Mowat are remembering the Canadian author and environmentalist as a wonderful neighbour who strolled along the beach and attended local functions.

Mowat often spent hours writing inside his cottage next to his summer home in Grand Gully, near River Bourgeois in Richmond County.

"We’re very upset, a very sad day for sure," said Ann Louise Touesnard, a friend a neighbour. "I know his wife Claire will totally devastated, and his children.

"We are sure going to miss him around here. Every summer he walked the beach over here with his wife and the dogs."

Mowat received many awards for his writing and more than 17 million copies of his books have sold worldwide. But he was also a well-known environmentalist who donated land he owned in Cape Breton to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust.

Bonnie Sutherland, the executive director of the nature trust, said Mowat never outgrew a childlike wonder and hands-on connection to nature.

"He started to realize that writing could be his tool for protecting what he cared so much about," she said.

"He put the two together and obviously did an incredible amount to use his writing to help protect the environment."