Margaret Laurence Lecture Series

John Metcalf, 2017 Margaret Laurence Lecturer

Intimate, frank, and revealing in tone, The Margaret Laurence Lecture Series invites Canada's most prominent authors to discuss the theme of “A Writer's Life." On Friday June 2, award-winning writer and Member of the Order of Canada John Metcalf will deliver the 32nd annual lecture in Vancouver at The Writers' Union of Canada's OnWords 2017 conference.

John Metcalf was senior editor at the Porcupine’s Quill until 2005, and is now fiction editor at Biblioasis. A scintillating writer and an almost magisterial editor and anthologist, he is the author of more than a dozen works of fiction and nonfiction, including Standing Stones: Selected Stories, Adult Entertainment,Going Down Slow and Kicking Against the Pricks. He lives in Ottawa with his wife Myrna.

Friday, June 2, 2017
8-9pm, Post reception to follow
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts 
149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
Free and open to the public 

Past Lectures

Among others, MacLennan, Gallant, Findley, Mitchell, Berton, and Atwood have all shared candid stories of how they became writers. These lectures give us unprecedented access to our nation's literary luminaries—insights into their work, the profession of writing, and the cultural history of Canada. The Writers’ Trust provides a $5,000 honorarium to each speaker.

Last year's Margaret Laurence Lecture was delivered by beloved children's writer Jean Little, who was joined on the Canadian Writers' Summit‬ stage by her sister Pat de Vries. Brimming with cheeky banter and heartwarming anecdotes, their speech highlighted Jean's path from childhood to celebrated author. Read the lecture online or listen below.


Kay,Guy-GavrielListen to Guy Gavriel Kay's 2015 lecture, where he returned to his hometown of Winnipeg to argue that the value of a writer’s life lies in the words they give us, not the life they lead. He cautioned his fellow writers against seeking shortcuts, gurus, or trivializing their craft, and underlined the supreme value of the written word.

vanderhaeghe_guyRead Guy Vanderhaeghe's 2014 lecture, which includes a professional blessing from Margaret Laurence herself. Vanderhaeghe describes how his early life of over achievment circuitously led to a passion for history and literature, and thanks his mother for being his luckiest break.

Lorna CrozierListen to Lorna Crozier's 2013 lecture. Inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke, Crozier entitled her lecture "Letters to a Younger Writer," and framed it as a series of ten letters written by a younger poet. Over the course of her 45 minute lecture, she shared stories of what mattered most to her and passed on words of wisdom to aspiring young writers. 

Dionne Brand
Listen to Dionne Brand's 2012 lecture, an ode to what is written and what is withheld, what is said and what is left unsaid. In her lecture, "Versos 11," Brand explores the recursive nature of the left-hand page while recreating past memories using masterfully rhythmic language.   

Read complete transcripts of past lectures by Mavis GallantAlistair MacLeod, and Farley Mowat.   

A Writer's Life_Margaret Laurence Lecture Anthology


An anthology of the lecture series was published in May 2011 by McClelland & Stewart to coincide with the 25th anniversary. For anyone who loves great literature—or aspires to write it—this is an essential collection, full of insight, wisdom, humour, and candour from Canada's most important and beloved literary figures.  



  • 2017 John Metcalf
  • 2016 Jean Little
  • 2015 Guy Gavriel Kay
  • 2014 Guy Vanderhaeghe
  • 2013 Lorna Crozier
  • 2012 Dionne Brand
  • 2011 Graeme Gibson
  • 2010 Marie-Claire Blais
  • 2009 Elspeth Cameron
  • 2008 Josef Skvorecky
  • 2007 Margaret Atwood
  • 2006 Antonine Maillet
  • 2005 Rudy Wiebe
  • 2004 Audrey Thomas
  • 2003 Alistair MacLeod
  • 2002 Janet Lunn
  • 2001 William Deverell
  • 2000 Peter C. Newman
  • 1999 P.K. Page
  • 1998 Al Purdy
  • 1997 Edna Staebler
  • 1996 W.O. Mitchell
  • 1995 Farley Mowat
  • 1994 Pierre Berton
  • 1993 June Callwood
  • 1992 Timothy Findley
  • 1991 Maria Campbell
  • 1990 Roch Carrier
  • 1989 Dorothy Livesay
  • 1988 Mavis Gallant
  • 1987 Hugh MacLennan


Woodcock Fund


Writers' Trust Fellowship


April 27, 2017

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
First Submission Deadline

May 24, 2017


Recommended Reading List

We asked some of Canada's finest writers about their favourite books of 2016.

Read their Recommendations.


E Newsletter Sign Up

Sign-up for our eNewsletter. Get info about Authors and our latest Events.

Sign up now!

Site design & development supported by

ecentricarts inc