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About the Prize

The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction is given annually for excellence in the category of literary nonfiction, which includes essays, history, biography, memoir, commentary, and criticism. The winning book demonstrates a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique. The prize has been sponsored by The Hon. Hilary M. Weston since 2011 and is funded by the Weston Family Foundation.

2021 Winner

Tomson Highway

Permanent Astonishment: A Memoir

Doubleday Canada

Jury Citation

Permanent Astonishment is a mesmerizing story rich in detail about growing up in a Cree-speaking family in Northern Manitoba and later in a residential school. Highway’s writing delights in tales of eating muskrat tails, speaking Cree (and learning English), preparing for a Christmas concert, and listening to Hank Snow on a transistor radio. While unstinting about the abuse he and others suffered, Highway makes a bold personal choice to accentuate the wondrousness of his school years resulting in a book that shines with the foundational sparks of adolescence: innocence, fear, and amazement.”

— 2021 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction Jury (Kevin Chong, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Adam Shoalts)

2021 Finalists

Jury

A jury composed of Canadian writers Kevin Chong, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Adam Shoalts considered 107 titles submitted by 64 publishers before deciding on a shortlist of five.

“Winning the Weston Prize was like having a huge burst of fireworks go off in the middle of my life — an explosion of adrenaline and joy.”

– Candace Savage


2012 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction winner

About The Hon. Hilary M. Weston

The Hon. Hilary M. Weston served as the 26th lieutenant-governor of Ontario from 1997 to 2002. As the Queen’s representative in Ontario, Mrs. Weston was responsible for the Crown’s constitutional and representational roles in the province. Since leaving public office, Mrs. Weston has continued to pursue her diverse interests. She led Renaissance ROM, the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian cultural history, transforming the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. A recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, Mrs. Weston served on the board of the Aga Khan Museum for eight years, is a Trustee Emeritus of the Art Gallery of Ontario and is Founding Patron and Chair Emeritus of Prince’s Trust Canada.

Mrs. Weston is a director of Wittington Investments, the family holding company, and Selfridges Group; she is also a member of the Sotheby’s International Council and has served as deputy chair of the board of Holt Renfrew, promoting Canadian designers in the retailing business.

Mrs. Weston founded the Ireland Fund of Canada and remains a patron of this non-denominational organization promoting peace in Ireland. Her interests in homes and gardens resulted in the publication of In a Canadian Garden (1989) and At Home in Canada (1995). She served as first Chancellor of the Order of Ontario and was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2003. She received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. Mrs. Weston was invested by the Queen as a Commander in the Royal Victorian Order in October 2015 and is the recipient of several honorary degrees.