Mark Bourrie has been named the final winner of the RBC Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction.
The Ottawa journalist and historian was awarded the honour, which comes with a $30,000 cheque, at a Toronto luncheon Monday for Bush Runner.
“For a long time I wondered if anybody cared about what I wrote,” he told the crowd, choking back emotion. “People do.”
Published by Biblioasis, the biography follows the swashbuckling escapes of fur trader Pierre-Esprit Radisson, who helped found the Hudson’s Bay Company.
In their citation, jurors praised Bourrie for his picaresque portrayal of “the humane con artist of heroic stamina and fluid loyalties.”
Bourrie beat out four other authors to win this year’s RBC Taylor Prize, which is shutting down after two decades of celebrating Canadian non-fiction writing.
Each finalist receives $5,000, with Bourrie taking home an additional $25,000.
Jurors Margaret Atwood, Coral Ann Howells and Peter Theroux culled the 2020 short list from a record 155 submissions, according to organizers.
First awarded in 2000, the RBC Taylor Prize honours late Canadian writer and historian Charles Taylor’s commitment to literary non-fiction.
In announcing that this year’s prize would be the last, the Charles Taylor Foundation said it had “more than fulfilled” its original mandate of fostering appreciation for the genre.
Organizers say more than 100 Canadian non-fiction writers have benefited from the prize program.
Previous recipients include Carol Ann Shields, Charles Foran, Thomas King, Ian Brown and Tanya Talaga.
Past laureates were shuttled in for a Toronto bash over the weekend to celebrate what the prize has accomplished over 20 years.
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