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RBC Taylor Prize

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RBC Taylor Prize
Awarded forEnglish-language Canadian literary non-fiction work
Presented byRBC Wealth Management and the Charles Taylor Foundation
First awarded2000
Last awarded2020

The RBC Taylor Prize (2000–2020), formerly known as the Charles Taylor Prize, was a Canadian literary award, presented by the Charles Taylor Foundation to the best Canadian work of literary non-fiction. It was named for Charles P. B. Taylor, a noted Canadian historian and writer. Instituted in 2000, the 2020 prize was the final year the prize was awarded.[1][2] The prize was originally presented every two years until 2004, and became an annual award from 2004 onwards. The monetary value of the award increased over the years. The final award in 2020 had a monetary value of $30,000.

The award adopted its present name in December 2013, when RBC Wealth Management was announced as the new corporate sponsor.[3] In addition, under RBC's sponsorship the award added a second $10,000 award for an emerging Canadian literary non-fiction writer between the ages of 18 and 35, to be chosen by the winner of the main award. This award was presented for the first time at the 2014 ceremony.[3]

In 2018 the new RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers Mentorship Program was unveiled. This was a professional development program designed to support the next generation of Canadian writers and was part of the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers Award, a distinction that was given annually to a Canadian author whose work embodies the pursuit of excellence in literary non-fiction.

The mentorship program was made available to five Canadian non-fiction writers, who were selected in partnership with a national network of university and college writing programs. These students were paired with the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize shortlisted authors, who would help support their career development and growth.

In 2020, the organizers announced that the 2020 award would be the final presentation of the award.[4]

Winners and nominees[edit]

RBC Taylor Prize winners and finalists
Year Author Title Result
2000 Wayne Johnston Baltimore's Mansion Winner [5]
Witold Rybczynski A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and North America in the Nineteenth Century Finalist
Eric Wright Always Give a Penny to a Blind Man
Lisa Appignanesi Losing the Dead
Wayson Choy Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood
2002 Carol Shields Jane Austen Winner [5]
Nega Mezlekia Notes from the Hyena's Belly: Memories of my Ethiopian Boyhood Finalist
Margaret Visser The Geometry of Love: Space, Time, Mystery and Meaning in an Ordinary Church
A. B. McKillop The Spinster and the Prophet: Florence Deeks, H.G. Wells and the Mystery of the Purloined Past
Michael David Kwan Things That Must Not Be Forgotten: A Childhood in Wartime China
Clark Blaise Time Lord: The Remarkable Canadian who Missed His Train and Changed the World
2004 Isabel Huggan Belonging: Home Away From Home Winner
J. Edward Chamberlin If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? Finalist
Gertrud Mackprang Baer In the Shadow of Silence: From Hitler Youth to Allied Internment, A Young Woman's Story of Truth and Denial
Warren Cariou Lake of the Prairies: A Story of Belonging
Margaret MacMillan Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World
2005 Charles Montgomery The Last Heathen: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in Melanesia Winner
Paul William Roberts A War Against Truth: An Intimate Account of the Invasion of Iraq Finalist
Christopher Dewdney Acquainted With the Night: Excursions Through the World After Dark
Patrick Lane There is a Season: A Memoir in the Garden
2006 J. B. MacKinnon Dead Man in Paradise Winner
Laura M. MacDonald Curse of the Narrows: the Halifax Explosion of 1917 Finalist
John Terpstra The Boys, or Waiting for the Electrician's Daughter
James Chatto The Greek for Love: A Memoir of Corfu
2007 Rudy Wiebe Of This Earth: A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest Winner
John English Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Vol. One: 1919-1968 Finalist
Ross King The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism
2008 Richard Gwyn John A.: The Man Who Made Us: The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald, Vol. One: 1815-1867 Winner
Lorna Goodison From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People Finalist
Anna Porter Kasztner's Train: The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust
Kevin Bazzana Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick
David Gilmour The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son
2009 Tim Cook Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1917-1918 Winner
Ana Siljak Angel of Vengeance: The Girl Assassin, the Governor of St. Petersburg and Russia's Revolutionary World Finalist
Elizabeth Abbott Sugar: A Bittersweet History
2010 Ian Brown The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search For His Disabled Son Winner
John English Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-2000 Finalist
Daniel Poliquin René Lévesque
Kenneth Whyte The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst
2011 Charles Foran Mordecai: The Life & Times Winner
Ross King Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven Finalist
Stevie Cameron On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver’s Missing Women
George Sipos The Geography of Arrival: A Memoir
Merrily Weisbord The Love Queen of Malabar: Memoir of a Friendship with Kamala Das
2012 Andrew Westoll The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery Winner
Madeline Sonik Afflictions & Departures: Essays Finalist
Charlotte Gill Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe
Wade Davis Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest
JJ Lee The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son and a Suit
2013 Andrew Preston Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy Winner [6]
Sandra Djwa Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page Finalist
Ross King Leonardo and The Last Supper
Carol Bishop-Gwyn The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca
Tim Cook Warlords: Borden, Mackenzie King, and Canada’s World Wars
2014 Thomas King The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America Winner [5][7]
David Stouck Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life Finalist [7][8]
Graeme Smith The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan
Charlotte Gray The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial That Shocked a Country
J. B. MacKinnon The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be
2015 Plum Johnson They Left Us Everything Winner [9]
M. G. Vassanji And Home Was Kariakoo: A Memoir of East Africa Finalist
Kathleen Winter Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage
David O'Keefe One Day in August: The Untold Story Behind Canada’s Tragedy at Dieppe
Barbara Taylor The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Times
2016 Rosemary Sullivan Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva Winner [10][11]
David Halton Dispatches from the Front: The Life of Matthew Halton, Canada’s Voice at War Finalist [12][13]
Ian Brown Sixty: The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning? [13]
Wab Kinew The Reason You Walk
Camilla Gibb This Is Happy
2017 Ross King Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies Winner [14]
Max Eisen By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz Finalist [15]
Marc Raboy Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World
Matti Friedman Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story [16][15]
Diane Schoemperlen This Is Not My Life: A Memoir of Love, Prison, and Other Complications [15][17]
2018 Tanya Talaga Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City Winner [5][18]
Max Wallace In the Name of Humanity Finalist [19][20]
Stephen R. Bown Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on Bering’s Great Voyage to Alaska
James Maskalyk Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine
Daniel Coleman Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place
2019 Kate Harris Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Roads Winner [21]
Elizabeth Hay All Things Consoled: A Daughter’s Memoir Finalist [22][21]
Ian Hampton Jan in 35 Pieces: A Memoir in Music
Bill Gaston Just Let Me Look at You: On Fatherhood
Darrel J. McLeod Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age
2020 Mark Bourrie Bush Runner Winner [23][5]
Robyn Doolittle Had It Coming Finalist [23]
Jessica McDiarmid Highway of Tears
Timothy Winegard The Mosquito
Ziya Tong The Reality Bubble

RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award[edit]

The RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award was instituted for the first time in 2014. The award was presented to an emerging writer selected by the winner of that year's primary award, and consisted of $10,000 and a mentorship from the writer who made the selection.

In 2018, the RBC Taylor Foundation also announced the creation of a mentorship program for writers who had not yet published their first non-fiction manuscript. Five writers would be selected for the mentorship each year, each receiving mentorship from one of the shortlisted main prize authors.[24]


  1. ^ "RBC Taylor Prize Concludes" (PDF). rbctaylorprize.ca. November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  2. ^ van Koeverden, Jane (November 21, 2019). "RBC Taylor Prize, an annual $30K Canadian nonfiction prize, is ending after 2020". CBC. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Charles Taylor Prize now known as RBC Taylor Prize; adds secondary award" Archived October 16, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Victoria Times Colonist, December 9, 2013.
  4. ^ Jane van Koeverden, "RBC Taylor Prize, an annual $30K Canadian nonfiction prize, is ending after 2020". CBC Books, November 21, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Bethune, Brian (March 3, 2020). "A vibrant biography of explorer Radisson wins final RBC Taylor prize". MacLean's. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  6. ^ Quill, Greg (March 4, 2013). "Andrew Preston takes Charles Taylor Non-Fiction Prize". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Thomas King wins $25K RBC Taylor Prize for non-fiction". CBC. March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  8. ^ Taylor, Kate (January 15, 2014). "Five authors vie for prestigious $25,000 Taylor Prize". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  9. ^ Medley, Mark (March 2, 2015). "Plum Johnson wins the RBC Taylor Prize for non-fiction". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  10. ^ Medley, Mark (March 7, 2016). "Rosemary Sullivan wins RBC Taylor Prize". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  11. ^ "Seeking justice for Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin's only daughter". Maclean's. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  12. ^ "Exclusive excerpt: David Halton immortalizes his legendary father". Maclean's. January 31, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Ahearn, Victoria (January 13, 2016). "RBC Taylor Prize short list stacked with 'searingly honest' personal tales". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  14. ^ La Rose, Lauren (March 6, 2017). "Ross King wins $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize for 'Mad Enchantment'". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  15. ^ a b c Medley, Mark (January 11, 2017). "RBC Taylor Prize finalists: Ross King shortlisted for fourth time". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  16. ^ Bethune, Brian (February 24, 2017). "Pumpkinflowers, a soldier's story". Macleans. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  17. ^ Bethune, Brian (January 26, 2017). "Diane Schoemperlen on what happens when a writer falls for a killer". Macleans. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  18. ^ Bethune, Brian (February 26, 2018). "Tanya Talaga wins RBC Taylor Prize for Seven Fallen Feathers: "I'm writing the history of now"". Maclean's. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  19. ^ Bethune, Brian (January 10, 2018). "These are the five very different books shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize". Macleans. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  20. ^ Dundas, Deborah (January 10, 2018). "The Star's Tanya Talaga shortlisted for RBC Taylor prize for non-fiction". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  21. ^ a b The Canadian Press (January 9, 2019). "Finalists for RBC Taylor Prize announced". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  22. ^ Balser, Erin (March 4, 2019). "Kate Harris wins $30K RBC Taylor Prize for travel memoir Lands of Lost Borders | CBC Books". CBC. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  23. ^ a b Deborah Dundas, "Winner of last RBC Taylor prize chokes back tears: ‘I wondered if anybody cared about what I wrote’". Toronto Star, March 2, 2020.
  24. ^ "New Mentorship Program announced for Emerging Writers". Canada NewsWire, February 7, 2018.
  25. ^ "Writer, scholar, storyteller and First Nations activist Leanne Simpson named recipient of inaugural RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award". CNW Group, March 17, 2014.
  26. ^ "Iain Reid wins $10K RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award". CBC Books, May 11, 2015.
  27. ^ "Awards: Adnan Khan receives RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award". Quill & Quire, May 17, 2016.
  28. ^ "Saskatchewan’s Cassi Smith wins $10,000 RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award". The Globe and Mail, April 19, 2017.
  29. ^ "Alicia Elliott wins RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award". The Globe and Mail, May 3, 2018.
  30. ^ "Jessica J. Lee wins $10K RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award". CBC Books, April 16, 2019.
  31. ^ Samraweet Yohannes (March 18, 2020). "Simone Dalton wins $10K RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award". CBC Books. Retrieved July 25, 2020.

External links[edit]