The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest


Winning Essay: $1000

Deadline: March 28, 2017

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The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest: $1000 for one winning essay

Edna Staebler was a pioneer in the field of literary journalism and a beloved figure in her (our) home region of Waterloo, Ontario. Her first article, “Duellists of the Deep,” a story about swordfishing with Neil’s Harbour fishermen, and published in Macleans when she was in her forties, won the Canadian Womens Press Club Memorial Award. Edna went on to publish with Macleans, Chatelaine, Saturday Night, and other flagship magazines, while her books include the Food that Really Schmecks series—cookbooks so entertaining that people read them in bed. Edna led by example in other ways as well, founding eponymous writers’ awards, scholarships, and bursaries to nurture writers. She helped to found The New Quarterly in 1981, and in 2005 her generous bequest allowed us to establish this award, in her honour.

Entry & Eligibility Details

  • One $1000 top prize will be awarded for one personal essay (no word limit).
  • Entry fee: $40 per essay (includes a 1-year Canadian subscription or renewal to The New Quarterly).
  • We are interested in essays in which the writer’s personal engagement with the subject provides the frame or through-line.
  • If names used in your essay might reveal your identity, please use pseudonyms and make a note on your entry form; that way we can ask for real names should the piece go to publication.
  • Submissions must be unpublished, nor can they be accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • Submissions are accepted online only.
  • Entrants must be Canadian (citizen or resident).
  • Entrant’s name must not appear in the essay.
  • All entries will be considered for publication in The New Quarterly ($250 paid upon publication).

Please note: Entrants’ anonymity will be preserved throughout the judging process. Decisions will be made by August 31. Finalists will be notified by email.

Interviews with Past Contest Winners:

2016: Julie Paul for “It Not Only Rises, It Shines”
2015: Elana Wolff for “Paging Kafka’s Elegist”
2014: Emily McKibbon for “Latencies”
2013: Caterina Edwards for “Light and Space on the Piazza”
2012: Sierra Skye Gemma for “The Wrong Way”
2011: Lisa Martin-DeMoor for “A Container of Light”
2010: Theresa Kishkan for “Arbutus menziesii: The make-up secrets of the Byzantine Madonnas”

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