In focus

Ottawa writers win Governor General’s Literary Awards

The annual awards presented by the Governor General of Canada are among the most prestigious literary honours in Canada. Over the years, several Francophone writers from the Ottawa region have received these awards, which testify to the quality of the literature produced in the national capital.

Claire Martin, pseudonym of Claire Montreuil, obtains a Governor General’s award in 1966 for La joue droite, the second part of her autobiography Dans un gant de fer. In 1994, Michel Ouellette, a playwright born in Smooth Rock Falls, receives one for his play French Town. Nicole V. Champeau, a native of Cornwall, obtains her 2009 award in non-fiction for Pointe Maligne, l’infiniment oubliée. Finally, Daniel Poliquin wins in 2014 for L’Indien Malcommode, his translation of Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian, and again in 2017 for Un barbare en Chine nouvelle, his translation of Alexandre Trudeau's Barbarian Lost: Travels in New China.

The grand prize, nevertheless, goes to Jean Marc Dalpé. This Ottawa playwright, poet and novelist has won the award three times! The first two times, in the drama category for Le Chien in 1988 and Il n’y a que l’amour in 1999, and again in 2000 for his first novel, Un vent se lève qui éparpille.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards are launched in 1936 by then Governor General, His Excellency the Right Honorable John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir. Since 1959, the awards have been administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, which is behind the Francophone component. Today, the Governor General’s Literary Awards recognize the best work in French and English in the following seven categories: fiction (novels and short stories), poetry, drama, non-fiction, young people’s literature – text, young people’s literature – illustrated books, and translation. Governor General’s Awards are also presented in the visual and media arts.