Canada Writes


How are the semi-finalists picked to play Canada Writes on CBC Radio One?

Brent Bambury on GO! on CBC Radio One puts out the call for entries in the five Canada Writes categories in January. The Canada Writes / GO! production team creates a short list of 20 names, ten from the East (residents of Ontario eastward) and ten from the West and North (residents from Manitoba and all points west and north). These 20 short-listed candidates are then auditioned for the game shows through a short telephone interview and a one-hour timed writing challenge. The aim is to choose the best game-show contestants: they are not only the best writers but also those who can write under pressure and bring personality to the presentation of their work on-air.

Who can play the Canada Writes online challenge?

All Canadians can play the Canada Writes Online Challenge. See Rules and Regulations.

How do I play Canada Writes online?

There are two rounds online, as there are in the radio games. Go to the Canada Writes website, select Play Online as of March 14, 2009, at 2:30 pm ET and again on April 4th at 2:30 pm ET. You can try a total of five of the same writing challenges as those faced on-air by the semi-finalists, with a one-hour timer ticking off the minutes, to allow you to experience some of the same time pressures as the on-air contestants. You can also read and rate other submissions posted on the site. Scores from the two rounds of challenges will determine the People’s Choice award winner. It could be you!

How strict is the word limit?

Very. Any submission over 200 words is immediately disqualified. (There is no minimum.)

Do punctuation marks count as words?

A word is considered to be a group of characters separated by a space. Any term containing a hyphen (“twenty-five”) or an apostrophe (“can’t”, “don’t”) counts as a single word. Every article (“the”, “a”, etc.) counts as a separate word. Punctuation marks do not count as words.


If you need information, please fill out the form below!

Canada Writes Information Request Form

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How It Works

  1. Write In!

    Out of hundreds and hundreds of entries, just twenty Canadians made it to the Short List and won themselves an audition with Canada Writes. Then eight semi-finalists were picked to play in the Eastern semi-finals and Western/Northern semi-finals.

    Read their winning songs, blogs, ads, rants and movie pitches!

  2. Tune In… or Join Us!

    On March 14th and April 4th, tune in to GO! on CBC Radio One at 10 am (10:30 am NT) for the Eastern and Western/Northern semi-final games in Halifax and Vancouver. The finals will be held in Toronto on April 18th. Or join us at any of the three shows to root for the contestants in person. Go to for tickets.

  3. Play Online!

    The Canada Writes 09 Online Challenge is now over. Thanks for playing!


(Toronto, April 25, 2009)

Canada Writes Finalists

It was a very tight race in the end. Our four finalists fought it out by blog, song, ad and a three-line story. First, they each drew a blog topic, from “the best hundred dollars I ever spent” to “one fact I would like to ‘un-know’”. Challenge number 2 was to re-write a song by Queen, with Valerie Stanois from the musical We Will Rock You bringing power vocals to their surprising new words. Then judges Geri Hall, Terry O’Reilly and Darrell Dennis sent Kaveh Mohebbi through the infamous Trap Door. Challenge number 3 was the radio ad. Clever ads for Cornhobbler’s Crematorium and Juice Bar (obviously not a real business) and Christmas greetings from the makers of Flank Chainsaws won Katie Sanders and Laurie Schwartz a last chance at writing glory, but it was Margaret Beach’s turn to go through the Trap Door. Finally, Laurie and Katie had to come up with the first two lines of a three-line story… on yellow writing pads on their laps…and in 90 seconds….

After weeks of effort and tension and achievement -- from the writing contest in January, through the auditions, the short list, the semi-finals and the finals – it was all over in a couple of minutes. Katie pulled ahead by a crucial point -- and became the winner of Canada Writes 09! Listen to the show! Read the blogs!

Canada Writes Judges

For more photos, go to

Winner of the Online Challenge! Ontario's Heather Smith is the winner of this year's People's Choice Award. Her winning entry was a re-write of the ABBA song 'Waterloo.' Take a look!

Canada Writes Blog

David Tracey (Vancouver, BC)
David TraceyWestern semi-finalist 09

If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “Dave, you write such wildly creative things, where DO you get your ideas?” I’d have…let’s see…hang on… Okay, nothing.

Read full blog post

Read all the Canada Writes blogs.