Sask. book fest founder Gary Hyland dies
Moose Jaw poet was 70
Gary Hyland, one of Saskatchewan's leading poets and the founder of the Moose Jaw-based Festival of Words, has died following a lengthy illness.
He was 70.
The Moose Jaw-born Hyland was the author of seven books of poetry, among them For the Love of Mirrors, which won the Saskatchewan Book of The Year Award in 2008.
In addition to writing poetry, Hyland taught in Moose Jaw, edited books, and helped build many organizations including Coteau Books and the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre.
Hyland became a member of the Order of Canada in 2005. At the ceremony, he was hailed for establishing the Saskatchewan Festival of Words, the province's most important literary gathering.
In recent years, he had been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), and was living at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina. He died on Tuesday.
In a 2008 interview with CBC, Hyland's friend Byrna Barclay recalled meeting him more than 40 years ago at an arts conference in Saskatoon.
"The knowledge that man had of who wrote what, when and why, how it developed, the development of poetry in Canada, and then peripherally in Saskatchewan, was utterly amazing," she said.
Hyland made a remarkable contribution to the province, said former Lieutenant-Governor Lynda Haverstock, a longtime friend.
"This was a fellow who, wherever he saw anything that should be done, he didn't wait for other people to do it," Haverstock said in a 2008 interview.
"He just stepped up to the plate, and as a result, not just Saskatchewan, but Canadian writers have the Festival of Words."