A Rich Heritage
“The major awards given annually by authors to authors.”
Throughout their existence, these CAA Awards for Adult Literature have been designed as objective rewards for excellence. Judging is carried out by panels selected in confidence. No short lists are published. The Journal (CBC) has referred to them as
The major awards given annually by authors to authors.
Founded in 1936
The Canadian Authors Association has a long history of recognizing the best in Canadian literary talent. The Governor General's Literary Awards were established in 1936 by the CAA, and in 1960 were transferred to the new government-funded Canada Council for administration. With the transfer there would now be money attached to the winning of the medal, but the number of awards dropped from five to three. Later the medals would be dropped from the Governor General's Awards.
The Canada Council awards were later seen as appealing to academics rather than the reading public. In 1973 the CAA Awards were established. The intent is clear in the original motion:
Since this Association is comprised largely of writers who hope to communicate with a wide and varied audience, and since the original awards were instituted in the belief that literary excellence and popular appeal are entirely compatible,
Therefore be it resolved that this Association originate a set of prizes to be known as the Canadian Authors Association Awards; these to be medals or any other trophy the Executive may select. Carried.
With the support of Harlequin, the new CAA Awards were launched in 1975.
Recognizing that there is not always a suitable Canadian literary work produced, judges have not awarded prizes on some years. This has been the practice since 1937, maintaining the integrity of these writing awards.
A more detailed account of the founding and history of the CAA Awards is found in chapter 18 of Syllables of Recorded Time (The Story of the Canadian Authors Association 1921-1981) by Lyn Harrington, 1981. ISBN 0-88924-112-0. While currently out of print, this volume should be available in libraries and in the collections of CAA branches. It is also available to our members as a PDF in the CAA Members Area.
Shortlists Established in 2009
Begining in 2009, the CAA Literary Awards feature shortlists for the four adult literature awards. The winners are announced at the CAA Literary Awards gala at our Annual Conference each year.
Current Awards Process
The Selection of Judges
Each year a trustee for each award appointed by the CAA will select up to three judges. Identities of the trustee and judges is confidential. Short lists are not made public. Decisions of the trustee and judges is final, and they may choose not to award a prize.
As was the case in 1959, there are costs to administering such an array of awards. Books must be sent from the office to the trustee, who forwards the books to the judges. Books are then returned the same way.
Corporate sponsors are sought to help underwrite the costs involved in administration and a number of awards now bear the name of those sponsors and the corporate logo is displayed on our awards Website, at the readings and in our awards announcements where possible to honour the contribution made by this person or corporation. Those interested in sponsoring an award can find more information on our Awards Sponsorship page.
There is now also a fee per title entered for a number of the awards to offset a portion of the awards program administrative costs.
Withdrawn CAA Awards
The following CAA Literary Awards are no longer administered by the CAA or are discontinued:
- This award for the best English-language play for adults by an author who is a Canadian or a landed immigrant.
- This award was made possible through the generosity of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and Playwrights Canada Press from 2002 to 2010, after which funding was withdrawn.
- This award for body of work, short stories and short story editor was suspended by the CAA in 2002.
- The Vickie Metcalf Award for a body of work is now being administered by The Writers Trust.
- This award was administered by the CAA from their inception in 1976 to 1999 after which funding was withdrawn by Air Canada.
- This important and unique award was replaced in 2006 by the CAA-BookTV Emerging Writer Award, sponsored by BookTV 2006–2009.
- For 2010, it was sponsored by BookLand Press as the CAA-BookLand Press Emerging Writer Award
- The CAA Award for Drama (for any medium) was funded by Harlequin Enterprises of Toronto from 1975 to 1997. In 1998, it was funded by a member of the CAA who chooses to remain anonymous.
- In 2000, this award was withdrawn, replaced by the CAA Carol Bolt Award.
Obtaining More Information
Awards Needing Sponsorship
Information about awards that are currently available for funding is on our CAA Awards Funding page.
To Sponsor an Award
If you would like to sponsor one of the CAA literary awards or to receive further information about the CAA Literary Awards Programs please contact the CAA National Office for details.
Updated: May 21, 2011