Calling all Canadian writers! Here is your guide to writing contests and awards in Canada.
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.
This contest is for works of fiction of up to 2500 words. The entry fee is $25. The top prize is $1500.
This award, offered by The Walrus, gives a top prize of $60,000 for a first novel published in Canada.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
The awards, offered by subTerrain, are for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. The cost to enter is $30 and awards $3000 in prizes.
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.
This bi-annual contest awards $20,000 for a poem of 40 or fewer lines.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Annual contests offered by The Fiddlehead literary magazine include fiction and nonfiction contests with a top prize of $2000.
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.
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 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.
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 offers awards to author’s of chapbooks and poetry. Top prize is $750 for poetry and $300 for chapbooks.
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.
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.
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.
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.