The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award was established in 1977 to honour the work of non-fiction writers in Nova Scotia. It is named for Evelyn Richardson (1902 - 1976), who won the 1945 Governor General’s Non-Fiction Award for We Keep A Light, her memoir of life in a family of lighthousekeepers on Bon Portage Island, Shelburne County.

One prize ($2,000) is awarded each year for a book of creative non-fiction that was written by a full-time resident of Nova Scotia and published and/or distributed for the first time in Canada in the year prior to the submission deadline. Creative non-fiction includes narrative non-fiction, collected essays, biography, memoir, and long-form academic publication that offers a complex and reflective narrative about original research. See Submission Guidelines for details.

Past Recipients | Meet Evelyn Richardson


Richardson Non-fiction medallion

Past Recipients 

Kate Inglis, Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief (Shambhala Publications) Lezlie Lowe, No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs (Coach House Books) Lori Neilsen Glenn, Following the River: Traces of Red River Women (Wolsak & Wy

2019: Kate Inglis, Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief (Shambhala Publications) | Finalists: Lezlie Lowe, No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs (Coach House Books); Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Following the River: Traces of Red River Women (Wolsak & Wynn)

Jury: Deidre Dwyer; Sandra Phinney; Simon Thibault

Jury's citation: "Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief by Kate Inglis is a compassionate exploration of the many guises of grief. It is an engaging, heart-warming, heart-wrenching guide that begins with the personal and takes us to the universal. In this sometimes lyrical book, Inglis, a lover of language and the founder of Glow in the Woods, a 'groundbreaking online community,' teaches us all what it means to face and live with grief."


John DeMont, The Long Way Home: A Personal History of Nova Scotia (McClelland & Stewart) Joan Baxter, The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest (Pottersfield Press) Pauline Dakin, Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood (Viking)

2018: John DeMont, The Long Way Home: A Personal History of Nova Scotia (McClelland & Stewart) | Finalists: Joan Baxter, The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest (Pottersfield Press); Pauline Dakin, Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood (Viking)


Erin Wunker, Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on everday life (Book*hug) Burnley “Rocky” Jones & James W. St. G. Walker, Burnley “Rocky” Jones: Revolutionary (Roseway Publishing) Jon Tattrie, Redemption Songs: How Bob Marley's Nova Scotia Song Lights

2017: Erin Wunker, Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on everyday life (Book*hug) | Finalists: Burnley “Rocky” Jones & James W. St. G. Walker, Burnley “Rocky” Jones: Revolutionary (Roseway Publishing); Jon Tattrie, Redemption Songs: How Bob Marley's Nova Scotia Song Lights The Way Past Racism (Pottersfield Press)

 

2016: Gary Saunders, My Life With Trees (Gaspereau Press) | Finalists: Marq de Villiers, Back to the Well: Rethinking the Future of Water (Goose Lane Editions); Dean Jobb, Empire of Deception: From Chicago to Nova Scotia—The Incredible Story of a Master S

2016: Gary Saunders, My Life With Trees (Gaspereau Press) | Finalists: Marq de Villiers, Back to the Well: Rethinking the Future of Water (Goose Lane Editions); Dean Jobb, Empire of Deception: From Chicago to Nova Scotia—The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation (HarperCollins)

 

Kaleigh Trace, Hot, Wet, & Shaking: How I Learned To Talk About Sex (Invisible Publishing) Heather Sparling, Reeling Roosters & Dancing Ducks: Celtic Mouth Music (Cape Breton University Press) Graham Steele, What I Learned About Politics: Inside the Rise

2015: Kaleigh Trace, Hot, Wet, & Shaking: How I Learned to Talk About Sex (Invisible Publishing) | Finalists: Heather Sparling, Reeling Roosters & Dancing Ducks: Celtic Mouth Music (Cape Breton University Press); Graham Steele, What I Learned About Politics: Inside the Rise and Collapse of Nova Scotia's NDP Government (Nimbus Publishing)

 

Stephen Kimber, What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five (Fernwood) John DeMont, A Good Day’s Work: In Pursuit of a Disappearing Canada (Doubleday) Richard Foot, Driven: How the Bathurst Tragedy Ignited a Crusade for Change (Goose Lane

2014: Stephen Kimber, What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five (Fernwood) | Finalists: John DeMont, A Good Day’s Work: In Pursuit of a Disappearing Canada (Doubleday); Richard Foot, Driven: How the Bathurst Tragedy Ignited a Crusade for Change (Goose Lane Editions)

 

Steven Laffoley, Shadowboxing: the rise and fall of George Dixon (Pottersfield Press) Jerry Lockett, The Discovery of Weather: Stephen Saxby, the tumultuous birth of weather forecasting, and Saxby’s Gale of 1869 (Formac) Herb MacDonald, Cape Breton Railwa

2013: Steven Laffoley, Shadowboxing: the rise and fall of George Dixon (Pottersfield Press) | Finalists: Jerry Lockett, The Discovery of Weather: Stephen Saxby, the tumultuous birth of weather forecasting, and Saxby’s Gale of 1869 (Formac); Herb MacDonald, Cape Breton Railways: An Illustrated History (Cape Breton University Press)

 

Harry Thurston, The Atlantic Coast: A Natural History (Greystone Books/The David Suzuki Foundation) Chris Benjamin, Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada (Nimbus Publishing) Ray McLeod, Hope For Wildlife: True Stories of Animal Rescue (Nimbus

2012: Harry Thurston, The Atlantic Coast: A Natural History (Greystone Books & The David Suzuki Foundation) | Finalists: Chris Benjamin, Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada (Nimbus Publishing); Ray McLeod, Hope for Wildlife: True Stories of Animal Rescue (Nimbus Publishing)

 

Laura Penny, More Money Than Brains: Why School Sucks, College is Crap & Idiots Think They're Right (McClelland & Stewart) J. A. Wainwright, Blazing Figures: A Life of Robert Markle (Wilfred Laurier University Press) Christopher A. Walsh, Under the Electr

2011: Laura Penny, More Money Than Brains: Why Schools Suck, College is Crap & Idiots Think They're Right (McClelland & Stewart) | Finalists: J. A. Wainwright, Blazing Figures: A Life of Robert Markle (Wilfred Laurier University Press); Christopher A. Walsh, Under the Electric Sky: The Legacy of the Bill Lynch Shows (Pottersfield Press)

 

John DeMont, Coal Black Heart: The Story of Coal and the Lives it Ruled (Doubleday) Jason I. Brown, Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives (McClelland & Stewart) Harry Bruce, Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers (McClelland

2010: John DeMont, Coal Black Heart: The Story of Coal and the Lives it Ruled (Doubleday) | Finalists: Jason I. Brown, Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives (McClelland & Stewart); Harry Bruce, Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers (McClelland & Stewart)

 

William D. Naftel, Halifax At War: Searchlights, Squadrons and Submarines, 1939-1945 (Formac) Marq de Villiers, Dangerous World: Natural Disasters, Manmade Catastrophes, and the Future of Human Survival (Viking) Stephen Kimber, Loyalists & Layabouts: The

2009: William B. Naftel, Halifax at War: Searchlights, Squadrons and Submarines 1939-1945 (Formac) | Finalists: Marq de Villiers, Dangerous World: Natural Disasters, Manmade Catastrophes, and the Future of Human Survival (Viking); Stephen Kimber, Loyalists & Layabouts: The rapid rise and faster fall of Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 1783-1792 (Doubleday)

 

Marq de Villiers, Witch in the Wind: The True Story of the Legendary Bluenose (Thomas Allen Publishers) Stewart Donovan, The Forgotten World of R.J. MacSween: A Life (Cape Breton University Press) Steven Laffoley, Hunting Halifax: In Search of History, My

2008: Marq de Villiers, The Witch in the Wind: The True Story of the Legendary Bluenose (Thomas Allen Publishers) | Finalists: Stewart Donovan, The Forgotten World of R.J. MacSween: A Life (Cape Breton University Press); Steven Laffoley, Hunting Halifax: In Search of History, Mystery and Murder (Pottersfield Press)

 

Linden MacIntyre, Causeway: A Passage from Innocence (HarperCollins) Marq de Villiers, Windswept: The Story of Wind and Weather (McClelland & Stewart) Natalie MacLean, Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass (Doubleday)

2007: Linden MacIntyre, Causeway: A Passage from Innocence (McClelland & Stewart) | Finalists: Marq de Villiers, Windswept: The Story of Wind and Weather (McClelland & Stewart); Natalie MacLean, Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass (Doubleday)

 

Linda Johns, Birds of a Feather: Tales of a Wild Bird Haven (Goose Lane Editions) Dean Jobb, The Acadians: A People’s Story of Exile and Triumph (John Wiley & Sons) Laura M. MacDonald, Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion, 1917 (HarperCollins)

2006: Linda Johns, Birds of a Feather: Tales of a Wild Bird Haven (Goose Lane Editions) | Finalists: Dean Jobb, The Acadians: A People’s Story of Exile and Triumph (John Wiley & Sons); Laura M. MacDonald, Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion, 1917 (HarperCollins)

 

Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle, A Dune Adrift: The Strange Origins and Curious History of Sable Island (McClelland & Stewart) David B. Flemming, Explosion in Halifax Harbour: The Illustrated Account of a Disaster that Shook the World (Formac) Roger Ma

2005: Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle, A Dune Adrift: The Strange Origins and Curious History of Sable Island (McClelland & Stewart) | Finalists: David B. Flemming, Explosion in Halifax Harbour: The Illustrated Account of a Disaster that Shook the World (Formac); Roger Marsters, Bold Privateers: Terror, Plunder and Profit on Canada’s Atlantic Coast (Formac)

 

Harry Thurston, Island of the Blessed: The Secrets of Egypt’s Everlasting Oasis (Doubleday) Billy Budge, Memoirs of a Lightkeeper’s Son: Life on St. Paul Island (Pottersfield Press)  Heather Laskey, Night Voices: Heard in the Shadow of Hitler and Stalin (

2004: Harry Thurston, Island of the Blessed: The Secrets of Egypt's Everlasting Oasis (Doubleday) | Finalists: Billy Budge, Memoirs of a Lightkeeper’s Son: Life on St. Paul Island (Pottersfield Press); Heather Laskey, Night Voices: Heard in the Shadow of Hitler and Stalin (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

 

Stephen Kimber, Sailors, Slackers and Blind Pigs: Halifax at War (Doubleday) Dan Falk, Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for a Theory of Everything (Viking) Michael Harris, Con Game: The Truth About Canada's Prisons (McClelland & Stewart)

2003: Stephen Kimber, Sailors, Slackers and Blind Pigs: Halifax at War (Doubleday) | Finalists: Dan Falk, Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for a Theory of Everything (Viking); Michael Harris, Con Game: The Truth About Canada's Prisons (McClelland & Stewart)

 

Kent Thompson, Getting Out of Town by Book & Bike (Gaspereau Press) Dean Beeby, Deadly Frontiers: Disaster and Rescue on Canada’s Atlantic Seaboard (Goose Lane Editions) Gary L. Saunders, Discover Nova Scotia: The Ultimate Nature Guide (Nimbus Publishing/

2002: Kent Thompson, Getting Out of Town by Book and Bike (Gaspereau Press) | Finalists: Dean Beeby, Deadly Frontiers: Disaster and Rescue on Canada’s Atlantic Seaboard (Goose Lane Editions); Gary L. Saunders, Discover Nova Scotia: The Ultimate Nature Guide (Nimbus Publishing & Nova Scotia Museum)

 

Joan Baxter, A Serious Pair Of Shoes: An African Journal (Pottersfield Press) Andria Hill, Mona Parsons: From privilege to prison, from Nova Scotia to Nazi Europe (Nimbus Publishing) Harold Horwood, Among the Lions: A Lamb in the Literary Jungle (Creative

2001: Joan Baxter, A Serious Pair Of Shoes: An African Journal (Pottersfield Press) | Finalists: Andria Hill, Mona Parsons: From privilege to prison, from Nova Scotia to Nazi Europe (Nimbus Publishing); Harold Horwood, Among the Lions: A Lamb in the Literary Jungle (Creative Book Publishing)

 

Robin Metcalfe, Studio Rally: Art and Craft of Nova Scotia (Goose Lane Editions) Marq de Villiers, Water: Why You Should Worry (Stoddart) Linda Johns, For the Birds: Nature Notes from a Woodland Studio (McClelland & Stewart)

2000: Robin Metcalfe, Studio Rally: Art and Craft of Nova Scotia (Goose Lane Editions) | Finalists: Marq de Villiers, Water: Why You Should Worry (Stoddart); Linda Johns, For the Birds: Nature Notes from a Woodland Studio (McClelland & Stewart)

 

Silver Donald Cameron, The Living Beach: Life, Death and Politics where the Land Meets the Sea (Macmillan) Michael Harris, Lament for An Ocean: The Collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery: A True Crime Story (McClelland & Stewart) Ann Spencer, Alone at Sea:

1999: Silver Donald Cameron, The Living Beach: Life, Death and Politics where the Land Meets the Sea (Macmillan) | This was the first year in which finalists for the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Prize were announced. Finalists: Michael Harris, Lament for An Ocean: The Collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery: A True Crime Story (McClelland & Stewart); Ann Spencer, Alone at Sea: The Adventures of Joshua Slocum (Doubleday)

 

1998: Harry Bruce, An Illustrated History of Nova Scotia (Nimbus Publishing)

 

Harry Thurston, The Nature of Shorebirds: Nomads of the Wetlands (Greystone Books)

1997: Harry Thurston, The Nature of Shorebirds: Nomads of the Wetlands (Greystone Books)

 

Simone Poirier-Bures, That Shining Place (Oberon Press)

1996: Simone Poirier-Bures, That Shining Place (Oberon Press)

 

1995: Elizabeth Pacey, Landmarks: Historic Buildings of Nova Scotia (Nimbus Publishing)

 

1994: Peter Brock, Variations on a Planet (Pottersfield Press)


1993: Sally Ross and Alphonse Deveau, The Acadians of Nova Scotia: Past and Present (Nimbus Publishing)


1992: Robert Pope, Illness & Healing: Images of Cancer (Lancelot Press)

 

1991: Harry Thurston, Tidal Life: A Natural History of the Bay of Fundy (Camden House)


Judith Fingard, The Dark Side of Life in Victorian Halifax (Pottersfield Press)

1990: Judith Fingard, The Dark Side of Life in Victorian Halifax (Pottersfield Press)

 

1989: Dean Jobb, Shades of Justice: Seven Nova Scotia Murder Cases (Nimbus Publishing)


1988: Harold Horwood, Dancing on the Shore: A Celebration of Life at Annapolis Basin (McClelland & Stewart)

 

1987: Tony Foster, Meeting of Generals (Methuen)

 

1986: P. B. Waite, The Man from Halifax: Sir John Thompson, Prime Minister (University of Toronto Press)

 

1985: Lilias M. Toward, Mabel Bell: Alexander's Silent Partner (Methuen)

 

1984: Brian C. Cuthbertson, The Loyalist Governor: Biography of Sir John Wentworth (Petheric)

 

J. Murray Beck, Joseph Howe: Volume 1, Conservative Reformer, 1804-1848 (McGill-Queen's University Press)

1983: J. Murray Beck, Joseph Howe: Volume 1, Conservative Reformer, 1804-1848 (McGill-Queen's University Press)

 

1982: Bruce Armstrong, Sable Island: Nova Scotia's Mysterious Island of Sand (Doubleday)


Kay Hill, Joe Howe: The Man Who Was Nova Scotia (McClelland & Stewart)

1981: Kay Hill, Joe Howe: The Man Who Was Nova Scotia (McClelland & Stewart)


1980: Joan and Lewis Payzant, Like a Weaver's Shuttle: A History of the Halifax-Dartmouth Ferries (Nimbus Publishing)

 

1979: Alden Nowlan, Double Exposure (Brunswick)

 

Harry Bruce, Lifeline: The Story of the Atlantic Ferries and Coastal Boats (MacMillan)

1978: Harry Bruce, Lifeline: The Story of the Atlantic Ferries and Coastal Boats (MacMillan)


Meet Evelyn Richardson

Evelyn Richardson was born Evelyn May Fox in 1902. Her first island home was Emerald Isle, also known as Stoddart Island, on the southern coast of Nova Scotia. She attended high school at Halifax Academy and later studied at Dalhousie University, earning a BA and becoming a teacher. In 1926, she married Morrill Richardson.

In her award-winning memoir, We Keep a Light, she describes how she and her husband bought tiny Bon Portage Island and built a happy life there for themselves and their three children. Although their main responsibility was tending the lighthouse, they kept a garden and raised sheep and a few cows. This memoir is known for its gentle humour, colourful stories and interesting personalities. According to the Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, We Keep a Light is “ an unsentimental, optimistic memoir of a simple lifestyle that suited the post-war mood and anticipated 1960s environmentalism.”

The Richardsons lived as lightkeepers on Bon Portage Island for 35 years. When they retired in 1964, the light was mechanized and the island acquired by Acadia University for its ecology and wildlife management programs.

Evelyn Richardson wrote several other books, including My Other Islands (1960)—“Mum’s best book,” says daughter Elizabeth Smith—and the historical novel Desired Haven (1953), set during the heyday of the Banks fishery. Where My Roots Go Deep, a collection of essays demonstrating her interest in local history, was published by Nimbus in 1996.