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Announcing the 2019-2020 Berton House writers-in-residence

The Writers' Trust is sending the next batch of talented writers to Canada’s most sought-after residency. This year’s selection committee was composed of two past writers-in-residence, Pasha Malla and Shelagh Plunkett, as well as Dawson City writer Gabriela Sgaga. The Writers' Trust received 82 Berton House applications from writers across the country.

Meet the five lucky writers selected to live and work for three months in the childhood home of Canadian literary icon Pierre Berton:

Greg MacArthur ◥
Lethbridge, AB
October – December 2019

Playwright Greg MacArthur’s works have been produced nationally and overseas. His writing credits include Snowman, The Toxic Bus Incident, and, most recently, A City. In 2011, he was a finalist for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.

At Berton House, MacArthur will work on Bill, a performance and literary text exploring themes of desire, obsession, sexuality, and morality through the voices of five queer male characters at different stages in their lives. 

Greg Bechtel ◥
Edmonton, AB
January – March 2020

Greg Bechtel’s debut story collection, Boundary Problems, won the Alberta Book of the Year Award for trade fiction in 2015, and was a finalist for the ReLit Award and the William L. Crawford Fantasy Award. He teaches English Literature, Creative Writing, and Writing Studies at the University of Alberta.

During his residency, Bechtel will work on a novel about amnesia, climate refugees, ghost-possession, and polyamorous relationships set in a future Edmonton.

Eliza Robertson ◥
Montreal, QC
April – June 2020

Eliza Robertson won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize last year for her first novel, Demi-Gods. She was a finalist in 2014 for the East Anglia Book Award and the Danuta Gleed Short Story Prize for her debut story collection, Wallflowers, and a Journey Prize finalist in 2013 for her short story “My Sister Sang.”

At Berton House, Roberston will work on I Got a Name, a literary nonfiction book about Krystal Senyk, who was murdered in Whitehorse in 1992.

Ailsa Ross ◥
Jasper, AB
July – September 2020

Journalist and illustrator Ailsa Ross is a contributor to BBC History, Outside Online, and National Geographic Travel. Her debut book, The Woman Who Rode a Shark, is a work of nonfiction for young readers about bold women who’ve gone on big adventures.

During her residency, Ross will work on A Field Guide for Feeling Free, a mix of biography and memoir on the subjects of curiosity, freedom, and fear told through the lives of eight iconic women who were drawn to remote places.

Robin Richardson ◥
Toronto, ON
October – December 2020

Robin Richardson is the author of three collections of poetry, including Sit How You Want, which was published last year. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Walrus, and Best Canadian Poetry. She holds an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College and is editor-in-chief at Minola Review.

At Berton House, Richardson will work on a book of poems about the implications and characteristics of euphoria and peak experience as encountered through a solitary relationship with the natural Canadian landscape.

About Berton House Writers’ Retreat

Created in 1996, Berton House provides three-month residencies for writers in Pierre Berton’s childhood home in Dawson City. In addition to time to focus on their writing, residents receive an honorarium, perform public readings, and are encouraged to become involved with the community.

Professional Canadian writers who have published at least one book and are established in any creative literary discipline are eligible. The program is administered and funded by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Support is provided by the Dawson City Community Library, Klondike Visitors Association, and Whitehorse Public Library. Travel assistance is provided by Aeroplan through their Beyond Miles program.

About the Writers’ Trust of Canada

The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs, including literary awards, financial grants, a fellowship, and a writers’ retreat.

Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country. For further information visit