Books·The First Page

Red-Brick by Jack Trott-McDermott

Red-Brick by Jack Trott-McDermott is a finalist for The First Page student writing challenge of 2022.

2022 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Jack Trott-McDermott, 15, is a finalist in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Jack Trott-McDermott)

Red-Brick by Jack Trott-McDermott is one of 11 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 category for 2022.

Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. More than 1,800 students submitted their stories.

The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada. The winners, to be selected by bestselling YA writer Sarah Raughley, will be announced on May 31.

Trott-McDermott, 15, a student from Central Secondary School in London, Ont., writes about housing and technology.


The house was in good shape. Maybe a little rickety, but it didn't show it's age too badly. An old red-brick building, with a small afterthought of a garage stuck on the side (unnecessary seeing as the parking on the road was excellent), it would have been the height of fashion a meagre few hundred years earlier.

It was at the garage that Marks was currently working, carefully laying the last charges that would blow the whole thing to smithereens. In a few moments his work was done and he stood, frowning at the heat of the day. He reached up and used the back of his hand to wipe the sweat from his brow and then walked back to the road.

A mechanical plunger attached to spidery black wires lay on the pavement, and he walked over to it, bending over and placing his hands on the rubber grips. He tensed to depress the plunger, and then paused, straightening up with a sigh. He had spent a week working on this job, and he thought it deserved one last look.

If only homes could talk! Marks thought it would have quite a story, to watch the world growing up around you, and to be unable to join it.

The old house stuck out like a sore thumb between two newer builds, all flashy plastic compounds and tinted windows, and, he knew it was silly, he thought it looked awfully lonely on the new block on which it now found itself.

If only homes could talk! Marks thought it would have quite a story, to watch the world growing up around you, and to be unable to join it.

Marks wasn't a sentimentalist, and he had no great affinity for the old world. His own home was a new build, from 2168. It could recognize his voice, clean itself, and cook him dinner. Hell, it could cut it's own lawn when he pushed a button. Nevertheless, he couldn't help feeling a pang of sadness to watch the last brick building in San Francisco leave the world. It felt like he was bidding farewell to an old man, who knew more about the world than he ever would.

Progress is progress, he supposed, bending to the detonator once more.


About The First Page student writing challenge

The First Page student writing challenge asks students in Grades 7 to 12 to write the first page of a novel from 150 years in the future. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2172. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by bestselling author Sarah Raughley. 

A writer and lecturer from Southern Ontario, Raughley is the author of the YA Effigies series — which includes Fate of FlamesSiege of Shadows and Legacy of Light — and the fantasy novel The Bones of Ruin for ages 14 and up.

The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada:

The winner will be announced on CBC Books on May 31, 2022.

Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 free YA books. Special thanks to Penguin Random House, Raincoast Books, Scholastic Canada, Annick Press, KidsCan Press, Groundwood Books, Orca Books and Simon & Schuster for donating books for the prize.

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