Margaret Atwood talks writing on Pelee Island while meeting with Windsor-Essex students

Windsor high school students from L'Essor and Kennedy got a chance to meet acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood.

Atwood: 'I've done a lot of writing on [Pelee Island]'

(Aadel Haleem/CBC)

Margaret Atwood credits Pelee Island as the site where she's written most of her books.

The famed Canadian author talked about her passions for Pelee before meeting with students from Kennedy high school and École secondaire l'Essor at her annual fundraising dinner for the Pelee Island Bird Observatory.

This is the sixth year Atwood has hosted this event, as Pelee Island is a place she holds dear to her heart.

"I grew up in the Canadian north and my dad was a biologist, so I just grew up with it," Atwood told CBC, adding that she's had a home on Pelee Island since 1987.

"I've done a lot of writing on it so a number of the books that I've written, I've written half of them or most of them on the island," she added.

Atwood said she wrote much of Booker Prize-winning The Blind Assassin and her most recent book, Hag-Seed, while staying on Pelee. When asked about the TV adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood said she approves.

"They've done an excellent job. The cast is terrific. The design, the scripts, they're all very, very good. We've had outstandingly positive reaction to the series so far."

Margaret Atwood meets with students from École secondaire l'Essor. (Aadel Haleem/CBC)

Prior to the dinner, Atwood spoke to local high school students, joking they usually don't say much. "They're always a little alarmed to find out somebody that they studied in school was still alive."

For the students, however, meeting the literary giant was a special moment.

"It was amazing, She was so kind and down to earth," said Grade 12 student Cheyenne Dupuis. "We talked about how we started a Feminist Club and we talked about our Social Justice Forum that we held and she was very amazed and thought it was very cool." 

Kennedy high school students Cheyenne Dupuis and Dakota Jabbour told Margaret Atwood about their school's Feminist Club & Social Justice Forum. (Aadel Haleem/CBC)

17-year-old Dakota Jabbour said it was a nerve-wracking experience meeting "someone with such a prestige to her writing."

"She had some amazing insight on the current situation, especially in the States, and how great it was that we have such a strong presence for feminism at our school," Jabbour added. "She talked about her book, The Handmaid's Tale ... and how that relates to Trump and a lot of the misogyny that he kind of spews into his country and says to his people."

L'Essor student Jacob Wilson also meet Atwood, an experience he described as the "highlight" of his high school years.

On Thursday, Atwood will host a reading and book signing at the University of Windsor.

As for what she's working on next, Atwood said with a smile, "I never tell."


Aadel Haleem is a video journalist and host with CBC Windsor. Email him at