This site uses JavaScript. Please enable JavaScript in your Browser and reload the page to view the full site.

Ottawa Book Awards

About the Ottawa Book Awards

The Ottawa Book Awards and Prix du livre d’Ottawa recognize the top English and French books published in the previous year. Both awards have separate categories for fiction and non-fiction. All shortlisted finalists receive $1,000 and each winner receives a prize of $7,500. 

Since 1985, the Ottawa Book Awards / Le Prix du livre d’Ottawa have paid tribute to our city’s outstanding writers by shining the spotlight on the top English and French books published in the previous year. Join us in celebrating the talent and creativity of our authors past and present, and applaud their remarkable achievements on the world’s literary stage.

Announcement of 2018 Finalists

The 2018 Ottawa Book Awards Finalists were announced on September 17, 2018.

View the Public Service Announcement: City announces 2018 Ottawa Book Awards and Prix du livre d’Ottawa finalists

View the 2018 Ottawa Book Awards Finalists.

2018 Awards Ceremony

The 2018 Ottawa Book Award and the Prix du livre d’Ottawa will be presented to the winning authors on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, at 7 p.m. at Ottawa City Hall, Jean-Pigott Place, 110 Laurier Ave W.

Additionally, the following awards will also be presented at the ceremony:

A special thank you to our partners at the Ottawa Public Library / Bibliothèque publique d'OttawaOttawa International Writers Festival, L'Association des auteures et auteurs de l'Ontario français and ARC Poetry Magazine for their collaboration in the event.

Program Guidelines

The Ottawa Book Awards recognize published books of literary excellence, written by authors residing in Ottawa. A prize of $7,500 is awarded annually in each of the following four categories:  English fiction, English non-fiction, French fiction and French non-fiction.  Short-listed authors receive a $1,000 prize.

Eligible Entries

Eligible books must meet the following criteria:

  • a book of literary merit published with an ISBN number
  • a minimum of 48 bound pages (except children’s books)
  • a work of Fiction (including novels, short stories, children’s literature and poetry) or Literary Non-fiction (including biographies, memoirs, cultural histories, literary journalism and essays)
  • published in 2018
  • written in English or French
  • written by one or two authors 18 years of age or older and who reside in the City of Ottawa* or who are Algonquin Anishinabe and live within 150 km radius of Ottawa**

* To meet the residency requirements, authors must live in Ottawa at the time of the award submission deadline and / or book publication, and a minimum of 12 consecutive months up to and including either or both dates. City staff reserves the right to ask for proof of Ottawa residency. Residency is established by a personal CCRA Notice of Assessment (the statement you are sent after filing an annual income tax return) for the previous year, indicating a current residential address in Ottawa.

**Those who do not have a status card must include a letter of acknowledgement from their Band Council

Ineligible entries

  • translations
  • posthumous nominations
  • anthologies and books with works by more than two authors
  • ghost written books
  • manuscripts
  • works published solely in an electronic format
  • textbooks, catalogues, cookbooks, reference books, academic theses, technical manuals, self help books
  • re-prints or republications of titles originally published at an earlier date
  • books submitted by City of Ottawa employees and elected representatives

A minimum of 10 eligible entries must be received each year in a given category and language. If this minimum is not reached, submissions will be forwarded to the following year’s competition.

Submission Procedure

Either the author or publisher may submit an eligible book. However, in cases where the publisher submits the book directly, the author is required to submit a signed form under separate cover to attest that they meet the program’s eligibility and residency criteria.

Documents Required

Along with four copies of the nominated book, please send the following on a USB key (in an envelope identified with the author name and book title) or by email to (please include the Program name and the author name in the subject field):

  • a Hi-Res author photo in JPEG format (minimum 300 dpi), including photo credit
  • a Hi-Res colour image of the book cover in JPEG format (minimum 300 dpi)
  • a short, 50-word author bio
  • a short, 60-word book description

Please note that the books and USB key will not be returned.

Selection Process

The City of Ottawa uses a peer review process to select the Ottawa Book Award laureates. In each language and category, a three-person jury composed of writers and literary arts professionals reviews the books and selects a short list of up to four finalists and one award recipient.

Assessment Criteria

The criterion for selection is literary excellence. This is determined based on the following literary qualities:

  • Narrative Flow
  • Style/Technique
  • Tone/Voice
  • Perspective/Innovation
  • Ideas/Research
  • Significance

Submission Deadline

Deadline for submission is Monday, January 7, 2019 at 4 pm. All submissions must be received by the deadline date, or postmarked by that date. Late submissions will not be accepted.

A total of four copies of each book must be submitted to:

City of Ottawa
Ottawa Book Awards
Cultural Funding Support Section (26-49)
100 Constellation Drive, 9th Floor West
Ottawa, ON K2G 6J8

Please note that books and USB key will not be returned.

 Announcement of Finalists and Winners

A short-list of finalists will be announced in September, 2019.

The names of award winners will be announced in October, 2019.

Application Forms & Contact Information

Do not fill in this PDF form through your web browser (such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge or others). Please first download the form onto your computer and open it with Adobe Acrobat Reader to complete. Any information added to the form through the web browser will be lost when the form is downloaded to your computer.

Contact Information

Program Inquiries

For specific information on your submission, or to discuss eligibility, contact:

Marlène Barré
613-580-2424 ext. 28517

General inquiries

For general information or to request an application form, contact:

613-580-2424, ext. 29404

2018 Winners

The following winners of the 2018 Ottawa Book Awards were announced during an awards ceremony on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at Ottawa City Hall, Jean Pigott Place.

News Release: City announces Ottawa Book Award and Prix du livre d’Ottawa recipients

English Fiction

Dead White Men

(Coach House Books)

Dead White Men by Shane Rhodes
Dead White Men by Shane Rhodes

A vital collection that interrogates the stories of the dead white men that litter our histories and landscapes. Juxtaposing the seemingly benign names of Europeans that permeate our geographies with the details of their so-called discoveries and conquests, Dead White Men turns ideas of exploration, discovery, finding and keeping back upon themselves. Engaging with exploration and scientific texts from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries – texts wrapped up in the history and ongoing present of colonization – this collection builds a fascinating poetry of memory out of histories that are largely forgotten.

Shane Rhodes is the author of six books of poetry, and has won awards including an Alberta Book Award and the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Jury Statement: 
"Shane Rhodes’s Dead White Men shows extraordinary range – temporally, geographically, emotionally and historiographically. Rhodes makes especially powerful use of a range of masks and narrative voices to reframe our perceptions of landscapes we thought we already knew. Brilliantly inventive in both language and layout, these poems leave us awe-struck and wanting more."

Jury members: Sylvia Adams, David Groulx, Y.S. Lee

English Non-Fiction

Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada

(Penguin Random House of Canada)

Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada by Roy MacGregor
Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada by Roy MacGregor

Expanding on his landmark Globe and Mail series documenting his travels down 16 of Canada's great rivers, Roy MacGregor tells the story of our country through the stories of its original highways, and how they sustain our spirit, identity and economy—past, present and future. MacGregor weaves a story of Canada and its ongoing relationship with its most precious resource.

Roy MacGregor is the acclaimed and bestselling author of multiple award-winning books and has been a regular columnist at The Globe and Mail since 2002. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has been called one of Canada's "most gifted storytellers." He lives in Kanata, ON.

Jury Statement:
Whether they be glamorous, powerful or recovering from a fetid past, Roy MacGregor masterfully conveys the beauty and fragility of the 16 rivers whose characters he portrays in Original Highways. This unique history of place and people from the geological past to the present day offers a heart-felt call to cherish the precious resource of these waterways. By turns fascinating, funny and poignant, this book is a vivid and compelling read."

Jury members: Pius Adesanmi, Sylvia Barrett, Suzanne Evans

2018 Finalists

Titles by 2018 Ottawa Book Award finalists are available at the Ottawa Public Library.

2018 Finalists: Fiction

Awarded for outstanding published works of fiction including novels, short stories, children’s literature and poetry.

What if Zen Gardens... by Henry Beissel

What If Zen Gardens... by Henry Beissel
What If Zen Gardens... by Henry Beissel

In What If Zen Gardens …, Henry Beissel, often considered the master of the long poem, turns to the time-honoured tradition of the haiku to help bring to light what he calls “the world's hidden affairs.” Included in the collection are a series of black-and-white illustrations by Arlette Francière, themselves polished gems reflecting and enhancing the poems.

Henry Beissel is an Ottawa poet, playwright, fiction writer, translator and editor with over 30 books published. His more than 20 collections of poetry include the epic Seasons of Blood, the lyrical Stones to Harvest, Sightlines, and most recently a bilingual English-French reprint of his epic Cantos North. As a playwright he came to international fame with Inuk and the Sun, premiered at the Stratford Festival in 1982 and since then translated into many languages. He is Distinguished Emeritus Professor at Concordia University (Montreal) where he taught English Literature for thirty years and founded a flourishing Creative Writing program. For more information,

The Mosaic by Nina Berkhout

The Mosaic by Nina Berkhout
The Mosaic by Nina Berkhout

A teenaged pacifist and a PTSD-afflicted Marine form an unexpected bond over a secret buried in a decommissioned nuclear missile silo in this beautifully written and thought-provoking novel about a teen facing the collision of love, ideals and uncertainty about her own future.

Nina Berkhout’s debut adult novel, The Gallery of Lost Species was acclaimed by the Toronto Star (“Berkhout does a masterful job”) and the Globe and Mail (“deeply moving”). The novel was named an Indigo and Kobo Best Book and a Harper’s Bazaar Hottest Breakout Novel.

We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx

We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx
We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx

One frigid winter night, the happily prosperous Mia and Michael Slate discover that a close friend and business partner has cheated them out of their life savings. On the same night, their son, Finn, passes out in the snow at a party — a mistake with shattering consequences. Who ultimately suffers when the privileged stumble?

Joanne Proulx’s first novel Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet won Canada’s Sunburst Award for Fantastic Fiction and was named a best debut by The Globe and Mail and Kirkus Reviews. A feature film adaptation of the novel will be released in 2018. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, Joanne lives, writes and teaches in Ottawa, Canada.

Up North by Jeff Ross

Up North by Jeff Ross
Up North by Jeff Ross

Rob Maclean and his mom have moved to a small community in northern Ontario in order to be closer to Rob’s imprisoned brother, Adam. One night Rob is involved in a fight on a First Nations reserve, and his friend ends up in a coma.

Jeff Ross is an award-winning author of 13 novels for young adults. He teaches English at Algonquin College. For more information, visit

2017 Finalists: Non-fiction

Awarded for outstanding published works of non-fiction including biographies, memoirs, cultural histories, literary journalism and essays.

Claire L'Heureux-Dubé: A Life by Constance Backhouse

Claire L'Heureux-Dube: A Life by Constance Backhouse
Claire L'Heureux-Dube: A Life by Constance Backhouse

Both lionized and vilified, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé has shaped the Canadian legal landscape – and in particular its highest court. Only the second woman on the Supreme Court of Canada, L’Heureux-Dubé anchored her approach to cases in their social, economic, and political context. This compelling biography takes a similar tack, tracing the experience of a francophone woman within the male-dominated Québec legal profession – and within the primarily anglophone world of the Supreme Court.

Constance Backhouse holds a Distinguished University Chair and a University Research Chair in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa.

Vimy: The Battle and the Legend by Tim Cook

Vimy: The Battle and the Legend by Tim Cook
Vimy: The Battle and the Legend by Tim Cook

How did a four-day battle at the midpoint of the Great War become elevated to a national symbol of Canadian identity? Tim Cook examines the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the way the memory of it has evolved over 100 years.

Tim Cook is a military historian at the Canadian War Museum, as well as an adjunct professor at Carleton University. He won the 2008 J.W. Dafoe Prize for At the Sharp End and the 2009 Charles Taylor Prize for Shock Troops. In 2013, he received the Pierre Berton Award and was recently inducted into the Order of Canada.

Shattered Illusions: KGB Cold War Espionage in Canada by Donald G. Mahar                 

Shattered Illusions: KGB Cold War Espionage in Canada by Donald G. Mahar
Shattered Illusions: KGB Cold War Espionage in Canada by Donald G. Mahar

This is the astonishing account of two highly flawed men at the centre of one of the most important Canadian / Soviet KGB espionage operations during the early part of the Cold War. Yevgeni Brik, a highly trained deep cover KGB illegal dispatched to Canada and RCMP Cpl. James Morrison who turned out to be a traitor, changed history.

Donald G. Mahar spent 41 years in Canadian intelligence working with the RCMP Security Service, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), within Canada and abroad. He is the National President of the Pillar Society, the retirement / alumni organization for CSIS.

Victor and Evie: British Aristocrats in Wartime Rideau Hall by Dorothy Anne Phillips

Victor and Evie: British Aristocrats in Wartime Rideau Hall by Dorothy Anne Phillips
Victor and Evie: British Aristocrats in Wartime Rideau Hall by Dorothy Anne Phillips

The experiences of the Duke of Devonshire, Governor General of Canada, and his family in the early twentieth century, revealed through recently released letters and diaries. Throughout the difficult years of the First World War and its aftermath, the duke travelled extensively and walked a fine line between the colonial authorities and Canada’s desire for greater independence.

Dorothy Anne Phillips, a social psychologist, retired from a research career in the federal civil service in 1996. The story of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire during his term as Governor General of Canada, is her first book. She lives in Ottawa.

(For outstanding books published in French, see the 2018 Prix du livre finalists.)

Ottawa Book Award: Past Winners 


Ottawa Book Award


Ottawa Book Awards


Prix du livre d'Ottawa


Prix du livre d’Ottawa


2018 Shane Rhodes, Dead White Men Roy MacGregor, Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada Alain Bernard Marchand, Sept vies, dix-sept morts N/A
2017 John Metcalf, The Museum at the End of the World Charlotte Gray, The Promise of Canada: 150 Years - People and Ideas that Have Shaped our Country Andrée Christensen, Épines d'encre N/A
2016 Nadine McInnis, Delirium for Solo Harp Tim Cook, Fight to the Finish: Canadians in the Second World War, 1944-1945 Pierre-Luc Landry, Les corps extraterrestres Patricia Smart, De Marie de l'Incarnation à Nelly Arcan
2015 Scott Randall, And to Say Hello Heather Menzies, Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good Blaise Ndala, J’irai danser sur la tombe de Senghor N/A


David O'Meara, A Pretty Sight

Paul Wells, The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006 - N/A

Philippe Bernier Arcand, La dérive populiste


Missy Marston, The Love Monster

Michael Petrou, Is This Your First War? Travels through the Post - 9/11 Islamic World Marie-Josée Martin, Un jour, ils entendront mes silences



Jamieson Findlay, The Summer of Permanent Wants

Ruth B. Phillips, Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums Estelle Beauchamp, Un souffle venu de loin



Gabriella Goliger, Girl Unwrapped

Eric Enno Tamm, The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds


Lucie Joubert, L’envers du landau


Craig Poile, True Concessions

Andrew Horrall, Bringing Art to Life: a Biography of Alan Jarvis Claire Rochon, Fragments de Sifnos 



Andrew Steinmetz, Eva’s Threepenny Theatre

Kerry Pither, Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror Margaret Michèle Cook, Chronos à sa table de travail

Maurice Henrie, Esprit de sel


Elizabeth Hay, Late Nights on Air

Tim Cook, At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1914-1916 Andrée Christensen, Depuis toujours, j’entendais la mer



Janet Lunn, A Rebel’s Daughter

Charlotte Gray, Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell Daniel Poliquin, La Kermesse



John-James Ford, Bonk on the Head

John Geddes, The Sundog Season

Heather Menzies, NO TIME: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life Gilles Lacombe, Trafiquante de lumière

Réjean Robidoux, D’éloge et de critique


Frances Itani, Poached Egg on Toast

Valerie Knowles, From Telegrapher to Titan: The Life of William C. Van Horne

Maurice Henrie, Les roses et le verglas

Michel Thérien, L’aridité des fleuves



Elizabeth Hay, Garbo Laughs

Madelaine Drohan, Making A Killing: How And Why Corporations Use Armed Force To Do Business

Maurice Henrie, Mémoire Vive

Mila Younes, Ma mère, ma fille, ma sœur


Brian Doyle, Mary Ann Alice


Jean Mohsen Fahmy, Ibn Kaldoun :l'Honneur et la Disgrâce

Nancy Vickers, La Petite Vieille aux poupées




Anna Heilman, Never Far Away  

Françoise Lepage, Histoire de la littérature pour la jeunesse


Alan Cumyn, Burridge Unbound


Nicole Champeau, Dans les pas de la louve

Michèle Matteau, Quatuor pour cordes sensibles




Roy MacGregor, A Life in the Bush: Lessons From My Father  

Patricia Smart, Les femmes du Refus Global


Alan Cumyn, Man of Bone

  Pierre Raphaël Pelletier, Il faut crier l’injure




Dr. Isaac Vogelfanger, Red Tempest  

René Dionne, Histoire de la Littérature Franco-Ontarienne des origines à nos jours


Patrick Kavanagh, Gaff Topsails

  Maurice Henrie, Le Balcon dans le ciel




Clyde Sanger, Malcolm MacDonald: Bringing an End to Empire  

Dr. Elisabeth J. Lacelle,L’incontournable échange. Conversations oecuméniques et pluridisciplinaires


John Barton, Notes Towards a Family Tree

Frances Itani, Man Without Face

  Andrée Christensen, Noces d’ailleurs




Penelope Williams, That Other Place: A Personal Account of Breast Cancer  

Gilberte Paquette, Dans le sillage d’Élizabeth Bruyère


Rita Donovan, Daisy Circus

Nadine McInnis, The Litmus Body


Maurice Henrie, Le Pont sur le temps

Gabrielle Poulin, Petites Fugues pour une saison sèche




John Sawatsky, Mulroney: The Politics of Ambition  



Rita Donovan, Dark Jewels

  Daniel Poliquin, Visions de Jude




Roy MacGregor, Chief: The Fearless Vision of Billy Diamond  




  Maurice Henrie, La chambre à mourir




Patricia Morley, Kurelek: A Biography  



John Metcalf, Adult Entertainment





Joan Finnigan, Legacies, Legends and Lies

Jean Bruce, Back the Attack! : Canadian Women During the Second World War