Author Bonnie Burnard, Giller Prize winner, dead at 72
Burnard won the Giller in 1999 for A Good House and was writer in residence at Western
Award-winning Canadian author Bonnie Burnard is being remembered for her strong views and care for words.
Burnard died Saturday at the age of 72.
Her longtime friend and fellow author Joan Barfoot said Burnard died in hospital in London, Ont., but had no other details.
Burnard won a string of awards for her work, including the prestigious Giller Prize in 1999 for A Good House, a novel about an ordinary Ontario family who lived through the post-Second World War boom.
Burnard's ability to create characters that seemed real and genuine to readers was one of her shining abilities, Barfoot said.
"You could read her work and feel that those people existed and they were recognizable, you could feel a kind of tenderness toward them," Barfoot said in an interview Sunday, adding Burnard cared about every word she put down.
"A real precision, a real care for words and what they mean and how she wanted them placed."
Burnard was born in Petrolia, Ont., in 1945. She lived for many years in Regina before moving to London, Ont., where she became a writer in residence at the University of Western Ontario in the 1990s.
In addition to her Giller Prize, she won the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award for her work Casino & Other Stories, and her first short story collection Women of Influence, won the Commonwealth Best First Book Award.
Barfoot said Burnard contacted her out of the blue when she moved to the London-area from Regina and the two became friends.
"There's not a whole lot of writers around so we found each other, or she found me," recalled Barfoot, who has written 11 novels and received the Marian Engel Award.
Burnard was "feisty" with strong views but very compassionate, said Barfoot.
"She was very caring, very strong minded and had strong opinions, that made for interesting conversations," said Barfoot, who said they had many talks over "a lot of wine."
"We talked about books we liked, we exchanged books ... we talked literary gossip sometimes and we talked about politics."
Burnard is survived by her three children and four grandchildren.
A celebration of her life is to be held at a London funeral chapel March 10 with a private family service to be held at a later date.