The awards were the first to honour excellence in Canadian writing and were initiated by our 15th Governor General, Lord Tweedsmuir. He was the Scottish politician and author, a.k.a. John Buchan, who wrote the celebrated spy novel The Thirty-Nine Steps. Since then, the awards have grown to include the categories of Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Children's Literature (text and illustration) and Translation, in both English and French.
The list of GGLA winners includes Canadian writers who are now recognized as global literary superstars: Farley Mowat, Stephen Leacock, Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, Alice Munro, Leonard Cohen, Gabrielle Roy, Daniel McIvor, Pierre Berton, Michael Ondaatje and Rohinton Mistry, to name just a few. Their work reflects the depth and richness of Canadian literature.
CBC Books has partnered with the Canada Council for the Arts to produce a series of videos to celebrate this landmark anniversary. We asked a number of high-profile Canadians to tell us about their favourite Governor General's Award-winning book.
Today's video comes from Rick Hansen. His favourite Governor General's Award-winning book is The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.
Rick Hansen is the Canadian Paralympian known as the "Man in Motion" for his two-year, round-the-world, wheelchair tour, which raised $26 million for spinal cord research. Based in Richmond, British Columbia, Rick participated in a cross-country relay this past summer to celebrate 25 years of the original Man In Motion World Tour. Rick was reluctant to choose just one great book from the list of Governor General's Literary Award winners, but in the end, he settled on The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, which was the English-language fiction winner in 1992.