Berton House Writers’ Retreat
Photos by Shelagh Plunkett and Nicole Dixon
Heralded as "the best three months of your life" by past writers-in-residence, Berton House provides a remote northern setting where authors can concentrate on their work — or just get away to think. With special roots as Pierre Berton's childhood home, the cozy Dawson City cottage comes complete with a sprawling front porch and library of nostalgic canlit gems. Because every Canadian should experience the North.
Professional Canadian writers who have published at least one book and are established in any creative literary discipline (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, play/screenwriting, journalism) may apply for a three-month residency.
Spoken word poet Shauntay Grant is our current Berton House writer-in-residence, staying from April to June 2016. Grant teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University, and was Halifax's third Poet Laureate. While in Dawson City, she is working on proof, a poetry novel for children set in the marginalized Black community of North Preston, Nova Scotia.
Catch readings with Shauntay Grant at Dawson City Library May 30 at 7pm and at Whitehorse Public Library on June 23 at 7:30pm.
Claire Caldwell (July to September 2016)
Toronto-based poet Caldwell cites her early childhood spent in the Yukon as the source of her first inspiration to write. She will be working on her second full-length poetry manuscript, picking up themes of the natural world that she explored in her debut collection, Invasive Species.
Debra Komar (October to December 2016)
PEI writer Komar, a former forensic scientist and professor, writes historical nonfiction using modern forensic science to re-examine historic Canadian crimes. The author of four previous books, she will be working on a fifth, exploring a criminal trial in 1920s Yukon.
Stacey Matson (January to March 2017)
Matson is a Vancouver-based writer of novels for younger readers, including Scenes from the Epic Life of a Total Genius. She is working on a new series of YA novels about the capers of a group of pre-teen girls locked in an aquarium overnight.
Drew Hayden Taylor (April to June 2017)
Playwright, fiction writer, and journalist Taylor, from Curve Lake, Ontario, is the author of numerous works including the novel Motorcycles and Sweetgrass and the play God and the Indian. He is working on a new play that he describes as a “comedic murder mystery from the perspective of a Native woman.”
About the Program
Inspired by the late Pierre Berton, Berton House is owned and operated by the Writers' Trust of Canada. Operational support is provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Dawson City Community Library Board, the Klondike Visitors Association, and the Winnipeg Public Library.
Further gratitude goes to Aeroplan for their generosity in supporting travel of the writers-in-residence to and from the Berton House Writer’s Retreat through their Beyond Miles program. Consider donating your own miles to support Berton House.
For additional information about the program visit bertonhouse.ca
“My stay at Berton House was like stepping into another dimension. I was satisfyingly productive in a house that welcomes each newcomer and allows us to focus on our work. But I also felt the pull that Dawson City, and the North, has always exerted on people: the excitement of Spring Break-up, the magnificence of the landscape, the adrenalin of endless light at midsummer. I met extraordinary people, relished my new friends’ eccentricity and creativity, and cannot wait to return.”
“I came to Dawson City expecting to do a lot of typing; what I wasn't prepared for was how relentlessly fascinating a place it is. Here you're confronted with history at every corner, and the past looms large in a way you don't find most places in Canada. I had a great summer, and would recommend the Berton House residency to any writer interested in getting work done — and some thinking, too.”
For more information about Berton House please contact:
James Davies, Program Director
416 504-8222 x 245