Due to pandemic travel restrictions, Writers' Trust is currently unable to bring writers to Yukon. We are optimistic about resuming regular Berton House operations and issuing a call for applications in summer 2021.
Berton House is a cozy cottage on the edge of Dawson City, Yukon on the traditional territory of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in. The community is situated at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, where for countless generations the Hän speaking people have lived alongside a diverse mix of families descended from Gwich’in, Northern Tutchone, and other language groups. The Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in traditional lands extend from the Yukon valley into the mountains to the north and south, and include Tombstone Territorial Park, a must-see wilderness of "rugged peaks, permafrost landforms and abundant wildlife." The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in have been a self-governing Yukon First Nation since 1998.
The Berton House Writers' Retreat has special roots as Writers' Trust co-founder Pierre Berton’s childhood home. Since becoming a writing residency in 1996, the little home on Eighth Avenue has hosted 84 writers and played an influential role in the publication of dozens upon dozens of manuscripts. Poets, fiction authors, creative nonfiction writers, playwrights, and writers of children’s literature are invited to apply. Housing and travel costs to and from Dawson City are covered by the Writers' Trust. Residents also receive a $9,000 honorarium, part of which may be covered by the Canada Council for the Arts’ Research and Creation grant program. Writers are required to deliver two public readings and encouraged to interact with the community and Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre during their stay.
The discovery of gold in the Yukon in 1896 brought an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon. Many settled in Dawson City and Tr’ochëk, an important fishing camp across the river from Dawson. The fast migration had an immediate impact on the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in way of life, as did the building of the Alaska Highway in 1942.