The Mongolian Chronicles – Eagles, Demons & Empires - Allen Smutylo, Spring 2023

DATES:                  March 21, 28, April 4, 11, 18, 25 (2023), (Back-up day: May 2)

TIME:                     10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon     

This lecture series is based on Allen Smutylo’s recent travels to Mongolia. The talks will include his written accounts, historical research, avian biology, original artwork, portions of a film documentary, photographs (personal and historic), and creative musings. This series is based on his award-nominated book The Mongolian Chronicles which was long listed for the prestigious RBC Taylor Prize.


  1. The Land of Golden Eagles - March 21 

            A detailed look into the rarified life and the nomadic culture of the legendary eagle hunters of Mongolia. This insight comes from Smutylo living with seven eagle hunters and their families during two trips to the Olgii – Bayan and the Altai Mountain area of West Mongolia, in 2016 and ’17.


  1. ‘The Eagle Huntress’ - March 28

          This presentation will include excerpts from a 2015 award-winning documentary, featuring the 13-year-old Mongolian girl, Aisholpan, who learns to become an eagle hunter. This film parallel’s many of Smutylo’s personal experiences with the eagle hunters.  


  1. Back to the Future - Genghis Khan & The Mongol Empire - April 4

       A look at how Mongolia is currently resurrecting its past identity, back to the time of Genghis Khan and the infamous Mongols - the largest (and perhaps the most unlikely) empire the world has ever seen. The talk will survey how tent-dwelling nomads came to conquer and dominate 100-million people from the Pacific Ocean to Eastern Europe.


  1. Mongolia at the Turn of the 20th Century - April 11

            A little-known, but equally fascinating (and turbulent) part of Mongolian history occurred in more recent times. At the beginning of the 20th century, with its former glory a faded memory, Mongolians found themselves shackled and subjugated by the imperialistic ambitions of their surrounding neighbours.


  1. The Eagle Brand & Shamanism - April 18

             This lecture will explore avian biology and intelligence, including why the eagle (and specifically the golden eagle) has become an emblematic symbol for nations, states, empires, tribes, sports teams and companies. Also, a review of the Mongolian’s past and present belief in shamanism and the spirit world.


  1. The Hunt - April 25

            This final week will explore the ethics and future of the Mongolian eagle hunting culture, including Smutylo’s experiences hunting with the nomads and their golden eagles.



Allen Smutylo was born in Toronto in 1946 and graduated with honours from the Ontario College of Art in 1970. He was a founding member of Circle Arts in 1969.

         For the past thirty-eight years Smutylo’s artwork and writing has been based on extensive traveling to some of the most remote areas in the world, including the Canadian High Arctic, Greenland, Antarctica, Patagonia, the Amazon, the Himalaya, central India, Rajasthan, North and West Africa, and Mongolia. His focus of interest in these locales often includes threatened cultures or those that have disappeared.  

         Smutylo’s work is in over 300 corporate and public collections. His etchings and paintings have won numerous awards including Graphex 4, a Canadian national print competition; and the Sapporo International Print Biennale in Japan.      

Commendations for Smutylo’s writing include:

Best Travel-Adventure Book at the Banff Mountain Book & Film Festival for Wild Places Wild Hearts – Nomads of the Himalaya.  His second book, The Memory of Water, was short listed for The Governor General’s Literary Award in non-fiction; the Best Travel / Adventure Book Award at the Banff Mountain Festival; and the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. His latest book The Mongolian Chronicles – A Story of Eagles Demons and Empires was nominated for the prestigious RBC Taylor prize for non-fiction literature.


Allen Smutylo lives in Big Bay, Ontario.