Awards


One of the awards with a very high women-to-men ratio of winners is the Edna Staebler Award, a unique Canadian award for creative nonfiction. Wilfred Laurier University attests that the Edna Staebler award is “the only [award] offered in Canada for the genre [of creative nonfiction]”. The award was established in 1991 by Edna Staebler, a “writer and literary journalist” to recognized outstanding work in Canadian creative nonfiction, “with a Canadian locale and/or significance.” It is administered by Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Arts

In 2012, of the twenty-two awards, thirteen awards—over half—have gone to women. These awards have been presented to authors of biography, autobiography, journalism, ethnography, and essay.

The award cites classic Canadian nonfiction writers as its inspiration, mentioning such writers as Susannah Moody, Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton, Marion Fowler, Harold Horwood, and, of course, Edna Staebler. The award encourages an imaginative, fresh, and novel perspective in works of creative nonfiction. The prize is for $10,000 Canadian, as well as notoriety for the winning book.

In 1991, the first winner of the Edna Staebler award was Susan Mayse, who won for her biography Ginger: The Life and Death of Albert Goodwin. Since, there have been twelve other women writers who have been presented the award, along with eleven men. Two awards were presented in 1993, both to women; multiple prizes have not been awarded again since.

YearWriterTitleGenre
1991Susan MayseGinger: The Life and Death of Albert GoodwinBiography
1992Marie WaddenNitassinan: The Innu Struggle to Reclaim Their HomelandAcademic
1993Elizabeth HayThe Only Snow in Havana Memoir
Liza PotvinWhite Lies (For My Mother) Memoir
1994Linda JohnsSharing a Robin’s LifeAcademic
1995Denise ChongThe Concubine’s Children: Portrait of a Family Divided Biography
1997Anne MullensTimely Death: Considering Our Last RightsAcademic
1998Charlotte GrayMrs. King: The Life and Times of Isabel Mackenzie King Biography
2003Alison WattThe Last Island: A Naturalist’s Sojourn on Triangle IslandMemoir
2004Andrea CurtisInto the Blue: Family Secrets and the Search for a Great Lakes ShipwreckMemoir
2005Anne ColemanI'll Tell You a Secret: A Memory of Seven SummersMemoir
2011Helen Waldstein WilkesLetters from the Lost: A Memoir of DiscoveryMemoir