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Banner: Canadian Writers

IntroductionSelect a writerEducational ResourcesAbout This Site

Educational Resources

Writing Matters: Creative Writing Activities

Introductory Activity

This teacher-directed activity may be used to introduce students to the Canadian Writers website. Teachers can use all or part of the following tasks as an initiation strategy.


  1. Open the Library and Archives Canada website Have students explore the home page by clicking on the various menu choices such as the ArchiviaNet, AMICUS, and site search boxes, the featured sites and products section, the right-hand menu bar and the left-hand menu. Then ask them to select the "Browse Selected Topics" button, click on "Literature;" and under "Virtual Exhibitions," click on Canadian Writers.

  2. Present an overview of the Canadian Writers website. Many Canadian writers have generously deposited their papers with Library and Archives Canada, including Marie-Claire Blais, Jacques Brault, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, Roger Lemelin, Carol Shields, Elizabeth Smart, Michel Tremblay and Jane Urquhart. The following activities are intended as an introduction to the creative process using selected online resources from manuscripts of well-known Canadian writers. The exploration of these resources should connect students with the writers' best work and inspire them to create their own best work.

  3. Have students click on "About This Site," and ask them to answer the following questions:
    1. What information seems relevant to you?
    2. How does the digitization of heritage materials serve both the writer and the public?
    3. What is the meaning of the word "fonds" in this context? What does a fonds include?
    4. Notice the contributors to this project so far. Does this list seem inclusive and varied?

  4. Have students click on "Introduction." Instruct them to peruse the list of writers available and click on any writer they wish to explore. Have them answer the following questions:
    1. What are the three categories provided for the exploration of each writer?
    2. What seems to be contained within the three categories?
    3. Do any of the items spark your curiosity? Which ones?
    4. Have you read any of the stories or novels mentioned?
    5. Are you equally proficient in reading French and English? Which language do you prefer to read in?
    6. Why are some of the titles changed when translated into the other official language?
    7. Before exploring each writer on the Library and Archives Canada Canadian Writers site in depth, you may wish to read a work by one of the featured writers. Find a work and read it.

  5. Have students go to the Urquhart "Manuscript Gallery" and select The Whirlpool. Ask them to click on the cover of the black notebook entitled "Descriptions of Bodies Found in the Niagara River and Whirlpool…" Select one of the entries and read it aloud to the students. Point out that this notebook was kept by Jane Urquhart's husband's grandmother, who ran a funeral undertaking business in the Niagara Falls area. These unusual notebooks inspired Urquhart to write her popular novel The Whirlpool.

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