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Writing Contests and Awards in Canada

Writing Contests and Awards in Canada

Calling all Canadian writers! Here is your 2024 guide to writing contests and awards in Canada.

fiction contests

All of these contests and awards are Canada-wide, and most offer cash prizes.

It can be hard for emerging writers to gain a foothold in the publication community; sometimes the best option is to submit to every contest you possibly can. In that spirit, we’ve compiled this list contests for emerging and established writers alike.

Alice Munro Festival Short Story Contest

This contest is for works of fiction of up to 2500 words. The entry fee is $25. The top prize is $1500.

Amazon Canada First Novel Award

This award, offered by The Walrus, gives a top prize of $60,000 for a first novel published in Canada.

Arc Poetry Poetry Contests

The Arc Poetry Poem of the Year contest awards $5000 as its top prize. The entry fee is $35 and poems submitted must not be longer than 100 lines. Other contests offered by Arc Poetry include: Arc Award of Awesomeness, Archibald Lampman Award, Diana Brebner Prize, Tamarack Prize, and the Critic’s Desk Award.

Austin Clarke Prize in Literary Excellence

The Ex-Puritan offers this prize annually. Submit poetry or fiction. Submit stories between 1000 and 7500 words, or up to 4 poems or 4 pages of poems, whichever comes first.

Canadian Stories Contest

This contest includes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry categories. Prizes vary but in previous years, first prize winners in these categories received $350 and publication by the Canadian Stories folk magazine. The entry fee is $20. Maximum length is 3000 words.

CBC Canada Writes

The CBC Canada Writes series of literary prizes are highly prestigious. Winning one of these can make your career as a writer. Winners receive $6000 and a 10-day writing residency. The entry fee for the CBC literary contests is $25. Contests include the CBC Nonfiction Prize, the CBC Short Story Prize for fiction, and the CBC Poetry Prize.

CNFC-HLR Nonfiction Contest

The Creative Nonfiction Collective Society (CNFC) and the Humber Literary Review join up to run this contest yearly in the fall. The winner receives $1000 and publication. Maximum length for the submission is 3000 words and the entry fee of $20 is discounted if you are a member of CNFC.

Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize

Offered by The Malahat Review, this contest opens yearly in the spring. The first place winner receives $1000. Maximum length for the submission is 3000 words. The entry fee is $35 and includes a one year subscription to The Malahat Review.

Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence

Numerous Awards for Crime Writing presented by Crime Writers of Canada. Prizes range from $200 to $1000 and entry fees range from $15 to $45.

CV2 2 Day Poetry Contest

This annual contest offered by Contemporary Verse 2 (CV2) involves writing a poem in 48 hours using 10 words provided at midnight on the Friday of a weekend in April (when Friday becomes Saturday). This means you have 48 hours to write your poem and it must include the 10 words provided. Cost to enter is $16 and the first prize is $500. Other CV2 contests include the CV2 Foster Poetry Prize and the CV2 Lina Chartrand Award.

Dreamers Creative Writing Literary Contests

Dreamers offers 4 literary contests each year with entry fees between $10 and $25, and prizes from $150 to $250 for the winning entries. The contests including:

  • Stories of Migration, Sense of Place and Home for submissions on the theme of Place and Home in any format including a poem, a nonfiction or creative nonfiction piece, a personal essay, an article, a fiction story, a children’s story, a dramatic piece, a comic or an experimental piece, however you choose to tell your story;
  • Micro Nonfiction Story Contest for nonfiction stories “from the heart” of between 100 and 500 words.
  • Haiku Contest for previously unpublished, original haiku.s
  • Flash Fiction Contest for flash fiction of between 300 and 1000 words.

Do Wha(ts) Write

This contest is in support of Tourette Canada, a charity that provides support for individuals with Tourette Syndrome. The contest is for flash fiction up to $1000 and the cost to enter 1 story is $3.

Eden Mills Writers Festival Literary Contest

This contest, offered by the Eden Mills Writers Festival, is for creative nonfiction. It opens yearly in early spring. Winners receive $250 and an invitation to read at the Eden Mills Writers Festival. The entry fee is $10.

Event Non-Fiction Contest

Event Magazine runs a yearly nonfiction contest that opens in October. First prize is $1500 and publication in Event. The entry fee is $34.95 and includes a one year subscription for Event. Maximum length is 5000 words.

Far Horizon’s Award for Short Fiction

The Malahat Review offers this award to emerging short-story writers for submissions of book length works of short fiction. Writers who enter must not have previously published a book. The top prize is $1250 and the entry fee is $25 for Canadian entrants and $35 for international entrants.

FBCW Literary Contests

The Federation of BC Writers offers contests in 4 categories, including flash fiction (up to 500 words), short fiction (up to 3500 words), creative non-fiction (up to 1500 words) and poetry (up to 30 lines).

Feme Sole Award

The Feme Sole Award is a $1000 scholarship offered annually to 4 creative writing or publishing students who are Canadian, residing in Canada, and over 21 years old.

Free Fall Magazine’s Annual Prose and Poetry Contest

This contest, offered by Free Fall, offers a top prize of $500. The cost to enter is $25. Enter up to 3000 words of prose or 3 poems.

Governor General’s Literary Awards

Offered by the Canadian Council for the Arts, these are some of Canada’s most prestigious awards for literature, if not the most prestigious. Offered in over 10 categories, entries must be submitted by book publishers, and winners receive $25,000 each.

League of Canadian Poets Contests and Awards

The League of Canadian Poets offers numerous contests, including the Lesley Strutt Poetry Contest, and the Very Small Verse Contest. They also offer awards, including the Raymond Souster Award. Top prizes range from $300 to $2000.

Lush Triumphant Literary Awards

The awards, offered by subTerrain, are for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. The cost to enter is $30 and awards $3000 in prizes.

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

This award honours excellence in the picture book format. Awarded annually with a prize of $20,000 to an English book aimed at children aged 3 to 8, written and illustrated by Canadians. Genres that are eligible include fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Submitted by publishers with an entry fee of $35.

Montreal International Poetry Prize

This bi-annual contest awards $20,000 for a poem of 40 or fewer lines.

Nona Heaslip Best Canadian Short Fiction Competition

The Nona Heaslip “Best Canadian Short Fiction” Competition and Award in memory of Morley Callaghan awards $15000 in prizes for short fiction in any genre. It is one of the richest literary contests in Canada. The entry fee is $35.

NOWW Writing Contest

The Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop offers this contest early in the new year. It includes a Creative Nonfiction category. First prize is $125. The entry fee is $10 for non-members and free for members. Maximum length is 3000 words.

Open Mind’s Quarterly Poetry Contest

Offered each year, this BrainStorm Contest is open to people with lived experiences of mental health and neurodiversity. Submit up to 3 poems for $12. There is a top prize of $250 for first place.

Portent Writing Contest

Portal’s writing contest invites 2000-word entries from Canadian authors annually. The contest rotates each year between non-fiction, fiction, poetry and script. The top prize is $500 and the entry fee is $25.

Pottersfield Prize for Creative Nonfiction

Pottersfield Press offers this prize for submissions of full manuscripts of between 30,000 and 150,000 of any creative nonfiction genre. Top prize is publication and a $1000 advance on 10% of book royalties. The entry fee is $25.

Prairie Fire and McNally Robinson Booksellers Writing Contests

Contests include creative nonfiction, short fiction, and poetry. First place winners in each category receive $750 and publication in Prairie Fire. The entry fee is $34 and includes a one year subscription. Maximum length for prose is 5000 words.

Prism International Writing Contests

Prism offers 4 annual writing contests. They are the Creative Non-fiction contest, The Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize, The Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction and The Grouse Grind Prize for V. Short Forms. The entry fees range from $15 to $35 and the top prizes range from $500 to $1500.

Pulp Literature Writing Contests

Pulp Literature offers 4 contests annually for writers. They are the Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest, the Magpie Award for Poetry, the Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize, and the Raven Short Story Contest. The entry fees range from $15 to $20 and the top prizes range from $300 to $500.

Read at the Fringe Short Story Contest

This contest is run by the Eden Mills Writers Festival, the cost to enter is $10, and the winner is awarded an opportunity to read at the festival. Categories include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Room Literary Contests

Room magazine runs these contests yearly for poetry, fiction and nonfiction. First prize is between $500 and $1000 depending on the category. The entry fee is $35 and includes a one year subscription for Room. Additional entries are $7. Maximum length for prose is 3500 words.

Ruth and David Lampe Poetry Competition and Award

The Ruth and David Lampe Poetry Competition and Award in memory of Gwendolyn MacEwen is for a suite of poems not to exceed 16 pages and awards $3000 in prizes. The cost to enter is $35.

Scotiabank Giller Prize

Founded in 1994, this prize is awarded for excellence in Canadian fiction. The winner receives $140,000 and is Canada’s richest prize for fiction. Entries for this prize are submitted by publishers.

SiWC Writing Contest

The Surrey International Writers Conference offers this contest for short stories in any genre. The entry fee is $15 and prizes range from $150 to $1000.

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

This award recognizes excellence in Canadian children’s literature. It awards 2 prizes of $50,000 each to an English-language book and a French-language book that have made a significant contribution to excellence in Canadian children’s literature. Submitted by publishers with an entry fee of $35.

Canadian Stories Literary Contests

Offered by the publication, Canadian Stories, these contests award prizes for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The entry fee is $20 and the top prize is $350.

The Fiddlehead’s Annual Contests

Annual contests offered by The Fiddlehead literary magazine include fiction and nonfiction contests with a top prize of $2000.

The Malahat Review Writing Contests

Top Prizes for these contests range from $1000 to $6000. Genres include poetry, novella, short fiction, and nonfiction. Submission fees range from $20 to $35.

The New Quarterly Writing Contests

Offered each year, these contests include the Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest, the Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest, and the Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Contest. Top prize for all contests is $1000 and the entry fee is $40.

The Ontario Poetry Society Awards

The society runs many poetry contests each year. Prizes range from $100 to $500.

Toronto Star Short Story Contest (URL works when the contest is open for entries)

This annual contest is open to Ontario residents and offers a top prize of $5000.

Trillium Book Awards

Established by the Ontario Government in 1984, these awards recognize excellence and diversity in Ontario writing. The awards are open to books in any genre. Book publishers submit titles for consideration.

Vallum Awards

Vallum offers awards to author’s of chapbooks and poetry. Top prize is $750 for poetry and $300 for chapbooks.

Word on the Lake Askew’s Writing Contest

This contest, run by the Shuswap Association of Writers, opens annually in December and accepts entries of poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction. The top prize is $200. The entry fee is $15. Maximum length is 1500 words or up to 3 poems of no more than 1 page each.

Writers’ Trust of Canada Awards

These prestigious awards offer top prizes of between $10000 and $75000 and are given to emerging writers to established writers in a variety of genres. Some awards require the author to be nominated while others allow self-entry with no entry fee.

Writers Union of Canada Short Prose Competition

The Writers Union of Canada offers this contest yearly to emerging writers with no more than one book in print. Writers can submit fiction or nonfiction. The contest opens in late fall. First prize is $2500. The entry fee is $29. Maximum length is 2500 words.

Writing Battle

Includes Writing Battles offered on a quarterly basis. Entry fees range from $16 to $25 (USD not CAD). These battles are peer-powered (meaning judged by other entrants, with a panel of judges for those that make the final round). Top prize pool for each is approximately $5000.

Writing Matters

Moderated by members of the Montreal Writers Collective, Writing Matters is a free and easily accessible platform for fiction, flash-fiction, non-fiction, sci-fiction, poetry and playwriting. There is no entry fee and submissions are limited to 500 words.