Site Accessibility Information Access Key 1 to Skip to Top Navigation Access Key 2 to Skip to the Three One One link Access Key 3 to Skip to City of Winnipeg Main Menu Access Key 4 to Skip to Left Navigation Menu Access Key 5 to Skip to Content area Access Key 6 to Skip to Right Sidebar content area Access Key 7 to Skip to Footer Links
City of Winnipeg
|  Link to the City of Winnipeg French websiteFrançais  |
Winnipeg Public Library


History of the Program

The Winnipeg Public Library launched its Writer-in-Residence program in 1985 by appointing Sandra Birdsell for a short term. She was followed in 1986 by Carol Matas for another short term residency.

With the program well underway, the Library applied for a grant from the Canada Council to provide 50% of the funding for the program. Under Canada Council rules, the Library was obliged to choose a writer who did not live in the province. Over the next few years, the Library hosted several Canadian writers including Anne Szumigalski, Geoffrey Ursell, and Merna Summers.

During the mid 90s, the Library was unable to continue to fund its portion of the program and so it was suspended. In 1997, the Manitoba Writers' Guild decided to initiate its own program and offered the services of a writer-in-residence at the University of Winnipeg. Although the program was a success, the Guild recognized that the Library setting was more accessible to the general public.

In 1998, the Guild approached the Library to begin the program again as a partnership. The next residency was a short term one at the St. Boniface Library with Marcien Ferland working in French. The Guild and the Library successfully applied for a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council for a 9-month term and in the fall of 1999 Linda Holeman began her term as the Writer-in-Residence.

The next year, the Library took over the financial responsibility for the program and was successful in applying for funds from a variety of sources including the Manitoba Arts Council, the Winnipeg Arts Advisory Council, Friends of Winnipeg Public Library and the Winnipeg Public Library Board. With the assistance of the Manitoba Writers' Guild, George Amabile was chosen for a 6-month term beginning in the fall of 2000.

Since then, the Winnipeg Public Library has hosted poets (John Weier, Maurice Mierau, Di Brandt, Jennifer Still), short fiction writers (Chandra Mayor, Melissa Steele, Patricia Robertson), young adult writers (Duncan Thornton), genre authors (Doug Whiteway), and award-winning literary novelists (David Bergen, Miriam Toews, Terry Jordan). In 2008 the program chose its first playwright, Bruce McManus. In 2016, the program saw its first duo with the song writing, poetry and publishing team of Christine Fellows and John K. Samson.

List of Writers-in-Residence

Each writer's term began in the fall of the starting year and ended in the spring or summer of the following year. Writers who served a shorter term due to funding shortfalls are marked with an asterisk. If a year is omitted, the program was on hiatus during that time.

1985 - Sandra Birdsell
1986 - Carol Matas
1987 - Anne Szumigalski
1989 - Geoffry Ursell
1990 - Merner Summers
1991 - Kate Bitney *
1993 - Fraser Sutherland *
1993 - Larry Krotz
1998 - Marcien Ferland *
1999 - Linda Holeman
2000 - George Amabile
2001 - Margaret Sweatman
2002 - David Bergen
2003 - Miriam Toews
2004 - Duncan Thornton
2005 - John Weier
2006 - Chandra Mayor
2007 - Doug Whiteway
2008 - Bruce McManus
2009 - Maurice Mierau
2010 - Melissa Steele
2011 - Terry Jordan
2012 - Joan Thomas
2013 - Méira Cook
2014 - Di Brandt
2015 - Patricia Robertson
2016 - Christine Fellows and John K. Samson
2017 - Jennifer Still
2018 - Jordan Wheeler


The Writer-in-Residence position is funded by the City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Public Library Board, the Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library, and Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage.

For more information on the Writer-in-Residence program, please call Danielle Pilon at 204-986-2802 or email

Last June 13, 2019