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Hilary Weston, former lieutenant governor of Ontario, is sponsoring the Writers Trust non-fiction prize with a $60,000 prize pot. (Canadian Press)

Canada is to have a new $60,000 prize for non-fiction writing beginning this fall, the Writers Trust of Canada announced Wednesday.

The Writers' Trust Hilary Weston Prize, to be sponsored by former Ontario Lt.-Gov. Hilary Weston, will be Canada's richest non-fiction prize. British Columbia's National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction is $40,000 and the Charles Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction is $25,000.

The new award replaces the Writers' Trust Non-fiction Prize, which was without a sponsor since 2008.

Weston told CBC News the Writers' Trust approached her about sponsoring the award.

"They felt there was a real need to raise the bar as far as non-fiction was concerned, and yet when you think of the history of non-fiction — the great Northrop Frye, Marshall McLuhan and of course Margaret MacMillan’s wonderful book 1919, you wonder why you have to raise the bar," she said.

There will be five writers nominated for the award this fall, with the winner taking the top prize and each of the finalists garnering $5,000.

Weston said studying non-fiction was an important part of her own education and she is helping to develop an educational component that will connect the finalists with high school students.

Weston, who ended her term as lieutenant governor in 2002, led the huge fundraising campaign behind Renaissance ROM, which supported the expansion of Royal Ontario Museum, and also serves on the board of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Married to Galen Weston of Weston Foods, she is also a corporate director of Wittington Investments and Selfridges Group Ltd. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2005.