The Whistler Writing Society was founded in 2001, became a non-profit organization in 2005, and a charitable organization in 2016. Our group includes over 150 members living in the Sea to Sky Corridor. From its inception the group has promoted the literary arts, provided a forum for local writers to develop their craft within the community, and sponsored literary events for readers and writers in the Sea to Sky corridor. A small group of volunteers within the Whistler Writing Society started the Whistler Writers Festival in 2002 and have delivered this and other literary programming in the corridor over the past 16 years. The festival showcases local, regional and internationally known Canadian writers. It allows us to meet the group’s mandate of promoting the literary arts in Whistler and the Sea to Sky corridor by:
- Exposing our community (readers and writers alike) to some of today’s best known as well as emerging Canadian authors, and,
- Being a catalyst for up-and-coming local writers to develop their craft, market-orient their work, and connect with other Canadian writers for inspiration, encouragement, and professional development right here within our community.
We achieve our mission by hosting literary events.
Whistler Writers Festival
This is an annual event in Whistler, which WWS started in 2002. It is a multi-venue, multi-artist, multi-day event. It involves over half of WWS’ volunteer and financial resources.
- Attendance: 1,810 (2016), 1,552 (2015), 1,441 (2014), 1,255 (2013), 546 (2012), 395 (2011).
- At the 2016 festival, three of the four evening reading events were completely sold out, and the Saturday workshops were all well attended. The program includes short seminars on various topics, a Masters workshop series for new and emerging writers on various topics of craft (e.g., writing the young adult novel, travel writing, completing your manuscript), panel discussions for the general public, reading events for the general public, a Literary Cabaret combining music and readings, and a Chef’s Reception with cookbook discussion and appetizers for tasting. There are also readings in local schools, and a workshop geared to writers who are under 18, in partnership with Whistler Public Library.
Since 2002, WWS has hosted over 100 Canadian authors, who have performed, read or instructed in Whistler, including: Caroline Adderson, James Barber, Maude Barlow, Paulette Bourgeois, Joseph Boyden, E.R. Brown, John Burnside, Kevin Chong, Ivan E. Coyote, Charles Demers, William Deverell, Emma Donoghue, Patrick deWitt, Candas Jane Dorsey, Charles Foran, Mark Forsythe, Damon Galgut, Stephen Galloway, Zsuzsi Gartner, Bill Gaston, Sue Goyette, Wayne Grady, Bruce Grierson, Genni Gunn, Ian Hamilton, Jennica Harper, Lee Henderson, Lawrence Hill, Miranda Hill, Mel Hurtig, Wayne Johnston, Susan Juby, Brian Kaufman, Arno Kopecky, Vincent Lam, Grant Lawrence, Sara Leach, Nancy Lee, Jen Sook Fong Lee, Janet Love Morrison, Annabel Lyon, Elizabeth Lyon, Carrie Mac, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Alistair Macleod, Margaret Macpherson, Lisa Moore, Kim Moritsugu, Claire Mulligan, Susan Musgrave, Sue Oakey Baker, Roberta Rich, Bill Richardson, Eden Robinson, Laisha Rosnau, Andreas Schroeder, Jane Silcott, Merilyn Simonds, Michael V. Smith, Madeline Sonik, Robin Spano, Mary Swan, Ania Szado, Timothy Taylor, Madeleine Thien, Audrey Thomas, Meg Tilley, Michael Tippert, Miriam Toews, Katherena Vermette, Richard Wagamese, Jack Whyte, Michael Winter.
Authors are hosted either as part of the Whistler Writers Festival, workshops, the writer in residence program, or in other contexts.
Writer in Residence Program
Organized and produced the annual writer-in-residence program since 2007: Paulette Bourgeois (2007), Candas Jane Dorsey (2008), Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady (2009), Brian Brett (2010), Sarah Selecky (2011), Fred Stenson (2012), Ania Szado (2013), Genni Gunn (2014), Michael Winter (2015) and Susan Juby (2016).
Authors in the Schools
- Organized and produced Authors in the Schools events for Sea to Sky elementary and high schools with Richard Wagamese (2013); Joseph Boyden, Katherina Vermette, Sue Oakey-Baker & Sara Leach (2014); Eric Walters, Stella Harvey, and Katherine Fawcett (2015); Lisa Moore, Kenneth Oppel and Richard Van Camp (2016)
- The event involving Richard Wagamese included grade 12 English classes studying his novel Indian Horse, followed by a session with Mr. Wagamese and the four area schools at the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Center where students heard him speak, read and answer their questions. As a result of the program, the Mount Currie youth have since organized a book club for youth in their community focused on reading books by First Nations authors.
- In 2014 the program was expanded to feature First Nations authors Joseph Boyden (The Orenda) and Katherena Vermette (North End Love Songs) who gave a joint presentation to Grade 11 and 12 students from Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and Mount Currie. We also included local authors Sara Leach (Count Me In) and Sue Oakey-Baker (Finding Jim) in the program, who gave presentations to students in Kindergarten and Grade 1, Grade 4 and Grade 10.
Whistler Centenary (2011)
- Produced a multi-disciplinary stage presentation in conjunction with the Whistler Museum, including writers, actors and musicians. This was to commemorate the centenary of the community of Alta Lake, which later became Whistler. It was staged in August 2011, and over 110 people attended.
- Hosted creative writing workshops in conjunction with Sea to Sky Corridor libraries.
- Organized and produced the Literary Leanings Reading series since 2002, and innovative public art installations such as the Collective Novel Experiment.
- Supported First Nations writers, through scholarships and mentorship, since 2007.
Partners and Funders
These include Cultural Capitals of Canada program (2008-2009), BC Arts Council Community Festival Grant Program (2004-2009, 2011-2014), BC Arts Council Innovations Grant (2013, 2014), BC Arts Council Capacity and Sustainability (2015), Resort Municipality of Whistler (2004-2015), Access Copyright Foundation (2010-2015), Canada Council for the Arts to support the festival (2015), to support the Writer in Residence Program (2011-2015), Writers Union of Canada Reading series (since 2003), RMI Funding (Whistler 2011-2016) and Arts Now (Catalyst) funding (2005, 2006, and 2009).