Distinguished Canadian Annual Address 2003
Mr. Alistair MacLeod
On Being a Canadian Writer
Alistair MacLeod was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, in 1936. He lived on the Prairies until the age of ten, when his parents moved back to the family farm on Cape Breton.
Dr. MacLeod obtained his B.A. and B.Ed. (1960) from St. Francis Xavier University, his M.A. (1961) from the University of New Brunswick, and his Ph.D. (1968) from the University of Notre Dame.
A specialist in British literature of the nineteenth century, Alistair MacLeod taught English for three years at the University of Indiana before accepting a post in 1969 at the University of Windsor as professor of English and Creative Writing. He and his family return to Cape Breton every summer, however, where he spends part of his time "writing in a cliff-top cabin looking west towards Prince Edward Island."
Dr. MacLeod has earned a great critical reputation for his short stories, collected in The Lost Salt Gift of Blood and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories. His novel, No Great Mischief, which follows the lives of several generations of a family that emigrates from Scotland to Cape Breton Island, has received numerous awards, including the 2000 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, the 2000 Dartmouth Book & Writing Award for Fiction, the 2000 Atlantic Provinces Booksellers Choice Award, the 2001 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Lannan Literary Award for fiction.
Alistair MacLeod's works are considered among the very best Canada has produced in the twentieth century.
Last Modified: July 20, 2009