Remembering Graeme Gibson

The Vancouver Writers Fest is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of beloved writer Graeme Gibson this morning, on September 18th, 2019.

“Our condolences go out to Margaret Atwood on the passing of her partner, the great Canadian novelist and conservationist, Graeme Gibson,” said Leslie Hurtig, Artistic Director. “He graced our stages many times over the years. He was a great soul, a wise writer and a friend to this organization.”

Gibson is beloved for both his novels – Five Legs, Communion, Perpetual Motion and Gentleman Death – and for non-fiction works Eleven Canadian Novelists, The Bedside Book of Birds and The Bedside Book of Beasts.

A true champion for authors and the craft of writing, Gibson was a founding member of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, a previous chair of the Writer’s Union of Canada and past president of PEN Canada. A tireless activist with a great generosity of spirit, Gibson supported several generations of Canadian writers, enriching our literary landscape for the better. In a statement, Writers’ Trust honoured Gibson as a “truly fine person with a brilliant legacy. Our hearts go out to his loving circle of family and friends.”

He is also remembered as a passionate birdwatcher and a deeply empathetic conservationist and environmentalist, with notable contributions including Chairman of Ontario’s Pelee Island Bird Observatory and a council member of World Wildlife Fund Canada.

Gibson was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1992.

“He had a lovely last few weeks, and he went out on a high, surrounded by love, friendship and appreciation. We are grateful for his wise, ethical, and committed life,” said Margaret Atwood, Gibson’s partner of 46 years, in a press statement.

We are deeply grateful for the contributions Gibson made to our own community and to literary communities across Canada. His abundant, energetic dedication to promoting the conditions for writers across our nation; his sage and perceptive advocacy for our planet; and his erudite, eloquent writing capture only a few of the Gibson’s innumerable virtues. We at the Writers Fest consider ourselves lucky to have known him, and to have been able to call him a friend.


Lauren Dembicky