by George J. Dance

The Canadian Authors Association began in 1921 to promote recognition of Canadian authors and their works, and to foster a climate favourable to creative writing in Canada.[1] Membership is available to both professional and would-be writers.[1]



The Canadian Authors Association was founded in 1921 to fight proposed changes in copyright law. The same year it launched Canadian Book Week, a program to promote Canadian writing which it ran until 1959.[2]

On October 28, 1921, Canadian poet Bliss Carman was feted at "a dinner held by the newly-formed Canadian Authors' Association at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal ... where he was crowned Canada's Poet Laureate with a wreath of maple leaves." [3]

The CAA established the Governor General's Literary Awards in 1936, and maintained them until 1959 (at which time they were taken over by the Canada Council).[4]

Also in 1936 the CAA launched Canadian Poetry Magazine, which promoted new Canadian poetry for more than 30 years (until 1968).[2] E.J. Pratt, an early member of the Association, was appointed the founding editor and served until 1943.[5]

The Association represented writers in both English and French until 1938, when the French writers set up their own Societe des Ecrivains Canadiens.[2]

1n 1946 the CAA drew up the first standard book contract used in Canada, to protect authors' rights in negotiations with publishers, and also "secured special tax privileges for writers."[2].

In 1947, the Association began administering the new Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.[2]

The CAA successfully lobbied to have Canada join the Universal Copyright Convention.[4]

In the 1980s the CAA began a campaign to implement a Public Lending Right program for Canadian authors. Other Canadian writing groups joined the effort and the program was finally created in 1986.[4]


The four goals of the CAA are:

  • To work for the encouragement and protection of writers.
  • To speak for writers before government and other inquiries.
  • To sponsor awards and otherwise encourage work of literary and artistic merit.
  • To publish publications designed to improve the professionalism of Canadian writers.[1]

Encouragement and ProtectionEdit

The CAA holds an annual conference/retreat, "CanWrite!" The 2011 conference was held in Grand Bend, Ontario.[6]

The Writers' Coalition plan, offered through the Association, offers health, drug, and dental care benefits for writers.[1]

The CAA helped create The Canadian Writers' Foundation, which continues to provide financial assistance to indigent authors and their families


In addition to the Governor General's Literary Awards (which it ran from 1937 to 1959), the CAA has given out its own CAA Awards annually since 1975.[4] Unlike the earlier awards, though, the CAA Awards are accompanied with cash prizes.[2]

The Association sponsors an annual CAA Award for Fiction (novels only) and for Poetry, plus the Lela Common Award for historical non-fiction, for a new book by a Canadian (or landed immigrant) writer. In addition, it awards a CAA Emerging Writer Award for the most promising Canadian (or landed immigrant) author, and the Allan Sangster Award, given to a CAA member "for extraordinary service to the Association."[7]

In addition, the Association administers the Vicki Metcalf Awards. There are three Metcalf Awards: a $3,000 authors' award for best short story, a $1,000 for the editor who published the story, and a separate $10,000 awarded for "lifetime body of work" of any type of writing.[2]

The CAA Awards are presented at an Annual Banquet, usually held in conjunction with the CAA's annual conference, Canwrite! The award winners are also given an opportunity to read from their work to the conference. In 2011 finalists were announced at CanWrite!, with the awards being presented in July in Orillia, Ontario, at the Leacock Museum National Historic Site, as part of the Leacock Summer Festival.[7]


The CAA long published a print quarterly, Canadian Author and Bookman, which suspended publication in 1998.[2] Currently the Association publishes a quarterly newsletter, Canadian Author (formerly National Newsline), which has been available since 2010 in an electronic version only. It also publishes various brochures, both about the CAA and its programs, and on topics of interest to writers.[8][9]

The CAA also puts out an annual Canadian Writers Guide (Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside. ISBN 1-55041-740-1.) The Writers Guide includes valuable insight and advice, including over 130 new and updated "how-to" articles, from professional writers from across Canada plus the United States, Europe, and Australia.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 <Canadian Authors Association, Web, June 4, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 John Lennox, "Canadian Authors Association," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 332-333.
  3. John Coldwell Adams, "Bliss Carman (1861-1929)," Confederation Voices, Canadian Poetry, UWO. Web, Mar. 23, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Canadian Authors Association," Book and periodical Council for Canada,, Web, Jun. 4, 2011.
  5. "Biography: Edwin John Dove Pratt,", Web, June 8, 2011.
  6. "CanWrite! 2011," Canadian Authors Association, Web, June 4, 2011.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Awards, Canadian Authors Association, Web, June 4, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "CAA Publications," Canadian Authors Association, Web, June 4, 2011.
  9. "Advertising," Canadian Authors Association, Web, June 4, 2011.

External linksEdit

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