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The Charles Taylor Prize is presented by the Charles Taylor Foundation to the best Canadian work of literary non-fiction. It is named for Charles Taylor, a noted Canadian historian and writer.

The award has a monetary value of $25,000. The prize was inaugurated in 2000, and was presented biennially until 2004. At the 2004 awards ceremony, it was announced that the Charles Taylor Prize would become an annual award.

Memoir Wins Canadian $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize

The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search for His Disabled SonJournalist Ian Brown has won one of Canada's major non-fiction awards, the CDN $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize  for The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Search for His Disabled Son (Random House Canada).

Brown’s profoundly moving  personal memoir is  about his son, Walker, and the rare genetic disorder, cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome, from which he suffers.

The book recently won the CDN $40,000 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-fiction, the country’s richest non-fiction prize.

In accepting the award at a gala luncheon in Toronto, Brown said the Taylor Prize puts a spotlight on a genre that is losing ground. “Narrative non-fiction is being ignored these days in favour of faster, more frequent, shorter blurts of information,” he said.

2009 | 2008 | 2000- 2007

Feb 9th -WINNER OF the 2009 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction is Tim Cook for Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917 – 1918, Volume Two, , published by Viking Canada. The prize jury, composed of author Warren Cariou, author and journalists Jeffrey Simpson, and art and culture expert Shirley Thomson, who read 135 books and chose the winner from a shortlist of three, previously announced on January 6,

Blog: Award Tragic Comment Shock Troops Conquer Charles Taylor Prize

Judges comments- WITH TREMENDOUS DETAIL and almost unstoppable narrative momentum, this book gives a harrowing account of a pivotal moment in world history that would transform Canada’s idea of itself. By shifting focus between grand strategy and on-the-ground struggle, Tim Cook creates a kaleidoscopic story that reveals the difficult relationships that formed among politicians, commanders and ordinary soldiers in their attempts to prepare for, and execute, a series of near-impossible missions. Through these stories of horror and heroism, what shines through most brilliantly is the complex humanity of the characters.

TIM COOK is the Great War historian at the Canadian War Museum, as well as an adjunct research professor at Carleton University. He is the author of the award-winning books No Place to Run and Clio’s Warriors as well as At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War, Volume One, which won the 2007 J. W. Dafoe Prize and the 2008 Ottawa Book Award. Tim Cook lives in Ottawa.

2009 Charles Taylor Shortlist

Elizabeth Abbott for Sugar: A Bittersweet History, published by Penguin Group (Canada)

Winner: Tim Cook for Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917 – 1918, Volume Two, published by Viking Canada.

Ana Siljak for Angel of Vengeance: The "Girl Assassin," the Governor of St. Petersburg and Russia's Revolutionary World, published by St. Martin's Press.

Judges comments -THIS PANORAMIC NARRATIVE vividly evokes the pleasure and the extraordinary suffering wrought by the desire for sugar from the Middle Ages to the present. The author, whose great-great-grandfather was a bit-player in the colonial sugar industry, shows how Europe’s addiction to sweetness contributed to the formation of global empires, the enslavement of entire peoples, the creation of diasporas, and the destruction of the environment. The result is a consummate work of synthesis that powerfully reveals how past inequities continue to resonate in the present.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT is the former dean of women at Trinity College, University of Toronto, and is the bestselling author of A History of Celibacy and A History of Mistresses. She received her Ph.D. in 19th century history from McGill University and specializes in history, women’s issues, animals, and the environment. The founder of the Trinity College-Mount Sinai Pet Therapy Programme, Elizabeth Abbott lives in Toronto.

Judges comments- RANGING FROM THE COURTS of St. Petersburg to peasant huts, this meticulously researched book tells the dramatic and little-known story of one woman’s act of political desperation and her very public trial. It is also a much broader portrait of ideological struggles in nineteenth-century Russia, revealing the devastating conflict between a society that could not find a way to change and those who demanded that it must. The author provides added contemporary resonance to the story by masterfully penetrating the minds of terrorists.

ANA SILJAK is a professor of history at Queen’s University. She received her Ph.D. in Russian history from Harvard University and specializes in the subjects of pre-Revolutionary Russia and the history of terrorism. She also has an interest in Russian literature. Ana Siljak lives in Kingston with her husband and family.


gwyn_richards2008 Charles Taylor Prize Winner; Richard Gwyn, John A.: The Man Who Made Us: The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald, Vol. One: 1815-1867

The Winner of the 2008 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction is Richardteh_man_who_made_us_cover
Gwyn (left-Toronto) for his book, John A.: The Man Who Made Us: The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald, published by Random House Canada. The prize of $25,000.00 was awarded Monday, March 3, 2008 at a gala luncheon held in the historic Sovereign Ballroom of Toronto’s Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel. The four runners-up — Kevin Bazzana, David Gilmour, Lorna Goodison, and Anna Porter — each received $2,000.00.

2008 marks the seventh awarding of the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.The prize, which has contributed significantly to the growth and recognition of the genre, was founded to commemorate the life and work of the late Charles Taylor, one of Canada’s foremost essayists and a prominent member of the Canadian literary community.

Of the book, the jury said: “In a lively but thorough biography of John A. Macdonald
up to the day of Confederation in 1867, Richard Gwyn brings to life the young Scottishborn lawyer who found himself unexpectedly entering politics in Kingston in 1844. Gwyn writes from a twenty-first century perspective while painting for his readers a vivid image of nineteenth century Canada: its society, customs, characters and politics. Gwyn helps us understand Macdonald’s genius and vision, which would shape the nation that grew to the north of the United States.”

2008 Other Shortlisted

Kevin Bazzana, Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick
David Gilmour, The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son
Lorna Goodison, From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People

Anna Porter, Kasztner's Train: The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust

2007 Charles Taylor Prize Winner

Rudy Wiebe, Of This Earth: A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest

2007 Other Shortlisted
Ross King, The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism
John English, Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Vol. One: 1919-1968

2006 Charles Taylor Prize Winner

J. B. MacKinnon, Dead Man in Paradise

James Chatto, The Greek for Love: A Memoir of Corfu
Laura M. Mac Donald, Curse of the Narrows: the Halifax Explosion of 1917
John Terpstra, The Boys, or Waiting for the Electrician's Daughter

2005 Charles Taylor Prize Winner

Charles Montgomery, The Last Heathen: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in Melanesia

Other shortlisted
Christopher Dewdney, Acquainted With the Night: Excursions Through the World After Dark
Patrick Lane, There is a Season: A Memoir in the Garden
Paul William Roberts, A War Against Truth: An Intimate Account of the Invasion of Iraq

2004 Charles Taylor Prize Winner

Isabel Huggan, Belonging: Home Away From Home

Other Shortlisted
Gertrud Mackprang Baer, In the Shadow of Silence: From Hitler Youth to Allied Internment, A Young Woman's Story of Truth and Denial
Warren Cariou, Lake of the Prairies: A Story of Belonging
J. Edward Chamberlin, If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?
Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World

2002 Charles Taylor Prize Winner

Carol Shields, Jane Austen

Other shortlisted
Clark Blaise, Time Lord: The Remarkable Canadian who Missed His Train and Changed the World
Michael David Kwan, Things That Must Not Be Forgotten: A Childhood in Wartime China
A. B. McKillop, The Spinster and the Prophet: Florence Deeks, H.G. Wells and the Mystery of the Purloined Past
Nega Mezlekia, Notes from the Hyena's Belly: Memories of my Ethiopian Boyhood
Margaret Visser, The Geometry of Love: Space, Time, Mystery and Meaning in an Ordinary Church

2000 Charles Taylor Prize Winner

Wayne Johnston, Baltimore's Mansion: A Memoir

Other Shortlisted
Lisa Appignanesi, Losing the Dead
Wayson Choy, Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood
Witold Rybczynski, A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and North America in the Nineteenth Century
Eric Wright, Always Give a Penny to a Blind Man


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