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Berton House Painting

Writers' Trust to Post Authors in Canada's North: 
Future Berton House Writers-in-Residence Named

January 22, 2013 – The Writers’ Trust of Canada is pleased to announce the next four writers to attend the Berton House Writers’ Retreat, Canada’s most sought after residency program. Each writer travels to Dawson City, Yukon, to live and work for three months in the childhood home of noted Canadian author Pierre Berton. Past writers-in-residence include Lawrence Hill, Pasha Malla, and Charlotte Gray.

 “The Berton House Writers’ Retreat program has played a transformative role in the careers of the 62 Canadian writers who have had the good fortune to stay in this unique sanctuary,” said Mary Osborne, executive director of the Writers’ Trust. “Visiting writers have an impact upon the community, performing readings, providing workshops, and participating in the vibrant local arts scene. The Writers’ Trust is proud to operate this residency and to support Canada’s literary community through our portfolio of lucrative literary prizes and our programs to support both emerging writers and authors in financial distress.”

The writers selected are:

MurphyColleen Murphy (July to September 2013)

Murphy received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama in 2007 for The December Man. While in Dawson City, the Toronto-based playwright intends to focus on a new work “that dramatizes how patriotism, fuelled by religious ardour, inspires and devastates a family living on a potato farm in Prince Edward Island.”

FitzgeraldJames FitzGerald (October to December 2013)

FitzGerald is a Toronto-based writer of creative nonfiction whose second book, What Disturbs Our Blood: A Son’s Quest to Redeem the Past, won the 2010 Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize. His current work-in-progress is Dreaming Sally, “a true story of first love, sudden death, and ESP set in the summer of 1968.”

MartiniClem Martini (January to March 2014)

Martini writes for adults and young people, as well as for the theatre, film, and television. He currently serves as the Head of the Department of Drama at the University of Calgary. Martini is researching how the ancient Greek and Roman comic playwrights shaped comedic literature, and is writing a trilogy for young adults entitled Year of the Dog.

CumynAlan Cumyn (April to June 2014)

Cumyn is the award-winning author of eleven wide-ranging novels, including the Giller Prize-nominated Burridge Unbound and the Owen Skye series for young readers. At Berton House the Ottawa-based writer intends to “work on the strange young adult novel that I have started, called Pterodactyl.”

About the Selection Process

The program received 58 applications from writers across the country. The applicants were assessed by a three-member committee: Ken McGoogan, a past writer-in-residence and Toronto-based nonfiction writer best-known for his narratives about Arctic exploration; Sara Tilley, a past writer-in-residence and St. John’s-based writer, theatre artist, and clown; and Helen Winton, a retired English instructor at Yukon College, interpretive guide at the Jack London Museum, and long-time Dawson City resident.

About the Berton House Writers’ Retreat

Created in 1996, Berton House provides a three-month residency for writers in Pierre Berton’s childhood home in Dawson City. Writers receive a monthly honorarium, perform public readings, and are encouraged to become involved with the community. Professional Canadian writers who have published at least one book and are established in any creative literary discipline (including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, play/screenwriting, and journalism) are eligible. Funding for the program comes from the Berton House Writers’ Retreat Society (chaired by Elsa Franklin) and the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Additional support is provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, Dawson City Community Library, Klondike Visitors Association,, Aeroplan, City of Dawson, and Whitehorse Public Library. For further information visit

The current writer-in-residence is Chris Turner, a nonfiction writer from Calgary working on his first novel. In April, Victoria-based poet Melanie Siebert begins her residency.

About the Writers’ Trust of Canada

The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs, including literary awards, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers’ retreat. Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country.  


For more information, please contact:
Mary Osborne, Executive Director
416-504-8222 x244 



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