Canadian Authors Association is this country’s national association for writers of every kind, for those actively seeking to become writers and for those who want to support writers. Founded in Montreal in 1921, Canadian Authors is a non-profit organization and is incorporated under federal charter. Some 25,000 writers have been members including, in the early days, Stephen Leacock, Bliss Carman, Robert W. Service, Ralph Connor, E.J. Pratt, Mazo de la Roche and Sir Charles G.D. Roberts.
Since 1983, the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association has been helping local writers by offering them a unique mix of workshops, guest speakers, writing groups, publications, networking opportunities and most of all, friendship. It all started back in the summer of 1981 when writer Peter D.A. Warwick placed a modest ad in the St. Catharines Standard, looking to meet a few local writers. When over fifty people replied, however, they knew they were onto something and soon formed the Niagara Peninsula Writer’s Group – an arrangement that lasted for two years until they formally joined the Canadian Authors Association.
During our regular meetings at the St. Catharines Public Library, we feature guest speakers from the industry who discuss areas of particular interest to writers – whether it’s manuscript editing, journalism, scriptwriting or self-publishing. Some past speakers include Sandra Bell-Lundy, Kelley Armstrong, Maxine Trottier, Robin Duke, Cora Taylor, Alexandra Leggat and Brad Smith. We also hold regular critiquing nights where members can read their work in progress and get suggestions about craft and potential markets. Members looking for a more detailed critique of their manuscripts can receive assistance by booking sessions with our writer-in-residence or attending one of the writing sub-groups that meet outside of branch meetings.
Writers looking for the incentive to write won’t have to look any further than the Niagara Branch. During the year, we run regular writing workshops in addition to all-day writing workshops that are open to the public and offer in-depth instruction from writing and publishing professionals such as Susan Musgrave, Barbara Kyle, Bruce Meyer, Brian Henry and Mary Jo Pehl. In addition, the Niagara Branch holds two annual poetry and fiction anthology contests – The Saving Bannister and Ten Stories High – that are open to members and writers across Ontario.
Always involved with the local community, we’ve collaborated in the past with members of the Niagara District Art Association and the St. Catharines Artists Association through our Poets & Painters exchanges. In 1985 and 1997, our branch hosted the National Conference of the Canadian Authors Association at Brock University featuring workshops and activities on a range of writing topics. The branch has also established the Joan Tovenati Memorial Prize for Poetry with Brock University.