Bemrose was born and raised in Paris, Ontario, where his father, Fred Bemrose, a 2009 recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, remains the town historian. He graduated from the Victoria University in the University of Toronto in 1970, where he published early poems in Acta Victoriana. His debut novel, The Island Walkers, was published in 2003. It was a nominee for that year's Giller Prize. and well as making the longlist for the Man Booker Prize.
He has also published a play, Mother Moon, and two volumes of poetry.
His second novel, The Last Woman, was published in 2009 by McClelland & Stewart. It is set in Ontario's cottage country and is being touted by its publisher as a vehicle for the vivid characterizations for which he's become known.
The Times Literary Supplement said in a review of The Island Walkers: "Bemrose’s characters […] live as real people live: contradictory, capable of kindness and disdain, of near-simultaneous love and hate, of gross betrayal…."
Set in Northern Ontario, The Last Woman takes place in the summer of 1986 as the province is suffering its way through a drought that drains the water from rivers and lakes. "New reefs have surfaced," the reader is told, "while in remote bays floating carpets of lily and arrowhead have given way to flats of dry mud."
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-06. Retrieved 2010-05-25. >
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2010-03-21.
- "Familiar territory", The Globe and Mail, Steven Hayward, Friday, Oct. 16, 2009
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