Writers' Guild of Alberta
ALBERTA LITERARY AWARDS HISTORY
R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature
This award was established in 1982 in honour of children’s author Ronald Ross Annett (1895-1988). Annett is best known for his Babe and Joe series of more than 70 stories in the Saturday Evening Post. His Especially Babe stories, set in Jenner, AB, were collected into a book in 1942 and reprinted by Treefrog Press in 1978. George Melnyk, in The Literary History of Alberta, comments that Annett’s stories dealt with “a family trying to make ends meet on a Depression farm. The stories had simple, homely dialogue and happy endings, comforting words for such uncertain times.”
The Amber Bowerman Memorial Travel Writing Award
The award was established in 2008 as a tribute to Amber Bowerman, a talented Calgary writer whose life met a tragic end at the age of 30. Amber Bowerman was a writer for a multitude of Alberta and Canadian magazines; as well as a mentor and inspiration to emerging writers through her work as publications editor and advisor at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Students Association.
George Bugnet Award for Novel
This award was established in 1982 in honour of novelist Georges Bugnet (1879-1981), who immigrated to Canada and homesteaded near Gunn, AB in 1905. Bugnet attended the Sorbonne in Paris, served in the French army and worked as an editor. He was also a botanist, researcher, poet, science fiction writer and novelist. At age 100, Bugnet was awarded a honourary doctorate from the University of Alberta.
Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction
This award was established in 1982 in honour of Wilfrid Eggleston (1901-1986). Eggleston’s family homesteaded near Manyberries, AB in 1909. He was a teacher with the Golden Prairie School District and later attended Queen’s University and became a journalist. His career included jobs with the Toronto Daily Star and the Reuters News Agency. He headed the school of journalism at Carleton University and was awarded the Order of the Empire in 1943. In addition to his career as a journalist, Eggleston published several non-fiction works, including his memoir Literary Friends (1980).
The James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction
The James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction was established in 2010 in honour of Dr. James H. Gray (1906 - 1998) whose first book, The Winter Years was published when he was 66 years old. He then went on to write a dozen more books including Red Lights on the Prairies and Men Against the Desert, all of which profiled Western Canadian experiences and history. He ended off 12 years as an Ottawa senior correspondent for the Winnipeg Free Press then became the Editor of the Calgary-based Farm and Ranch Review, and later of the Western Oil Examiner. James H. Gray was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1987 and the Order of Canada in 1988.
Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction
This award was established in 1982 in honour of accomplished short story writer Howard O’Hagan (1902-1982). O’Hagan was born in Lethbridge and educated in law at McGill University. He was known as a mountain guide, and lived in Australia, England, the US, and the Alberta Rockies. He authored two novels and two books of short stories. Michael Ondaatje writes that “Howard O’Hagan’s Tay John was one of the first novels to chart important motifs that have become crucial to the work of later western writers.”
Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry
This award was established in 1982 in honour of Stephan G. Stephansson (1853-1927) who immigrated to Alberta and homesteaded near Markerville at the age of 36. He was considered the voice of the Icelandic immigrant community and his poetry expressed the alienation and loneliness felt by many who found themselves belonging neither to their homeland or their newly adopted country. Considered Iceland’s greatest poet since the 13th century, he was an avid reader, an ardent pacifist and a philosopher. By 1923, five volumes of his poems had been published and a sixth was published posthumously.
Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama
This award was established in 1985 in honour of Gwen Pharis Ringwood (1910-1984). Ringwood was born in Washington State in 1910 and moved with her family to a farm near Lethbridge in 1913. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alberta in 1939 and was appointed the registrar of the Banff School of Fine Arts. Her first published play Still Stands the House, published in 1939, was the most performed one-act play in Canadian theatre. Ringwood was honoured for her achievement with honourary doctorates from both the University of Lethbridge and the University of Victoria and the Governor-General’s Medal for outstanding service in the development of Canadian drama.
The Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Prize
This award was established in 1992 in honour of Jon Whyte, a much-respected writer, historian and community leader in Alberta. He was a poet, storyteller, journalist, curator and conservationist. A passionate master of the English language, Whyte was deeply committed to writing about, researching and advocating for the area in which he grew up – the Rockies around Banff – and its culture and natural history. He wrote or contributed to more than 20 books on the Rockies, and his poetry collection Homage, Henry Kelsey was the inaugural recipient of the WGA’s Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry.
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