Canadian literary figures who died in 2017
In memoriam: here are just a few of the Canadian authors, writers and champions of literature who died this year.
Richard Wagamese was perhaps one of the greatest storytellers of our time. Born in 1955, the prolific Ojibway writer wrote six novels, a book of poetry and five non-fiction titles including: Indian Horse, Medicine Walk, For Joshua and Runaway Dreams. His love and passion for storytelling was equalled only by his belief in its transformative, world-changing power.
Montreal-born Norah McClintock was a bestselling Canadian writer of young adult fiction. Born in 1952, McClintock published over 60 books, including the popular Robyn Hunter mysteries, Chloe & Levesque mysteries and the Mike & Riel mysteries. She won five Arthur Ellis Awards for crime fiction for young people. Her books have been translated into 16 languages.
Stuart McLean, the host of CBC Radio's The Vinyl Café and an award-winning humorist and author of Christmas at the Vinyl Café, died at age 68 after a battle with melanoma. The Montreal-born creative's trademark blend of storytelling — part nostalgia, part pithy observations about everyday life — and folksy, familiar delivery made him a hit with audiences for more than 20 years.
Legendary broadcaster, author and radio personality Fil Fraser died of heart failure at the age of 85. The Montreal-born, Edmonton-based Fraser — regarded as Canada's Black broadcaster — was committed to social justice, excellence in journalism and in supporting the local arts scene. He was the author of How the Blacks Created Canada, a 2009 nonfiction work about the contributions Black individuals made to the country.
Born in 1945, Bonnie Burnard was an award-winning author born in Petrolia, Ont. Burnard won the Giller Prize in 1999 for A Good House and, the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award for her work Casino & Other Stories. Her first short story collection, Women of Influence, won the Commonwealth Best First Book Award.
Réjean Ducharme was a Canadian novelist and playwright based in Montreal. Born in 1941, he has been credited for influencing the province of Quebec's culture during the Quiet Revolution with his 1966 debut novel, The Swallower Swallowed. The book is an interior monologue of a young girl who rejects the world of adults and traditional values. Ducharme was named Officer of the Order of Quebec in 2000 and in 2016. The Quebec government named the 1966 publication of The Swallower Swallowed a "historical event" due to it being an "emblem of the effervescence of Quebec literature."
The Montreal-born, Toronto-based Jack Rabinovitch was a Canadian philanthropist best known for founding the Giller Prize, an award widely regarded as the preeminent honour in Canada for English-language literature. The prize was established in 1994, a year after the death of Rabinovitch's wife, literary journalist Doris Giller. Born in 1930, Rabinovitch wanted to create an award to honour Giller while also recognizing excellence in Canadian fiction.
Rienzi Crusz was an underrated master of the poetic form. Crusz was originally from Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada in the 1960s. His writing style was best described as romantic and keenly self-aware.
Jan Andrews was a highly regarded children's author and storyteller based in Lanark, Ont. Andrews was known for her colourful storytelling and her love of the arts and folklore. Born in 1942, she covered literature from The Odyssey to children's books.
Michael Bliss was a Canadian historian and award-winning author born in 1941. Bliss was known as one of the country's leading intellectuals and wrote 14 books on an array of subjects, from business to politics, including the Governor General's Award–nominated Plague: A Story of Smallpox in Montreal.
Bharati Mukherjee was an Indian-American author and professor. She is the author of 1971 novel The Tiger's Daughter and had a prolific career that included novels, story collections and works of nonfiction. She called both Toronto and Montreal home for a period of time and was married to Canadian-American author Clark Blaise. She was 76.
William Weintraub, an author and filmmaker involved in 150 National Film Board productions and a gifted chronicler of Montreal during the city's heyday and decline, died at the age of 91. His 1961 novel Why Rock the Boat, is a cynical tale of a young reporter in Montreal during the 1940s. He was presented with the Order of Canada in 2004.