21 Best Canadian Authors Of All Time

Are you interested in exploring new frontiers in literature? If so, look at the list of the best Canadian authors below!

Canada is a country with a rich history, and this includes literature. Much Canadian literature has been influenced by authors from the United States, England, and France. Canadian writers have become prolific in their own right, with some of them listed among the greatest writers of all time. Regardless of whether you are interested in short stories, non-fiction, or even historical fiction, take a look at some of the top writers below.

Popular Canadian Authors 

Best Canadian Authors

With writers from Quebec, Ottowa, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and everywhere in between, pick up your first novel written by a Canadian author and see what everyone has been talking about!

1. Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood

Any list of the top Canadian writers of all time has to start with Margaret Atwood. Atwood is frequently listed as the most popular Canadian writer, but she is also listed among the most significant writers globally. Her work has received international acclaim, and she has set the standard for Canadian writers.

During her career, she has been awarded the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Scotia Bank Giller Award, and the Booker Prize, all of which testify to her literary prowess. While there are numerous works from which to choose, arguably her most famous work is The Handmaid’s Tale. This work made her a finalist for the Booker Prize and won the Governor General Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her other most famous works include The Robber Bride, Oryx and Clarke, and The Year of the Flood. Her work is known for its impressive character development, seamless plot transitions, and vivid imagery.

While her wit is present throughout her works, her style has certainly evolved throughout the years. She has written dystopian fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, and even satire. She has an interesting take on human identity, and she is an influential feminist.

The Handmaid's Tale
  • Great product!
  • Atwood, Margaret (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 311 Pages - 03/16/1998 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

2. Yann Martel

Yann Martel
Yann Martel

Even if you have not read a book by Yann Martel, there is a good chance that you have seen a movie based on one of his stories. Martel is a younger Canadian writer, but he has already positioned himself as one of the greatest. He is best known for Life of Pi.

Life of Pi won the Man Booker Prize, and it tells the story of a young boy who gets stranded at sea and develops strong relationships with a variety of animals. Martel’s work is known for its powerful, vivid, photo-like imagery, and Life of Pi is indeed a powerful example of this. 

While Martel has a playful style of writing, which undoubtedly shines through in Life of Pi, it is still paradoxical. Everything is organized and planned despite the spontaneity that shines through in his work. While he is known for his fantasy and science fiction endeavors, his writing has a solid thematic undertone. He frequently tells stories of truth, growth, reality, and adversity. 

Several titans influenced Martel throughout the evolution of 20th-century literature, and he is already influencing future generations of writers as well. 

Life of Pi: A Novel
  • Great product!
  • Martel, Yann (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 326 Pages - 05/01/2003 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books Classics (Publisher)

3. Lucy Maud Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery
L. M. Montgomery

Frequently shortened to L.M. Montgomery, Lucy Maud Montgomery is widely considered one of the greatest Canadian writers of all time. She is known for Anne of Green Gables, which was made into several TV series and movies.

Montgomery is mainly known as a children’s author. Her work is easy to follow, and there is always an important theme that unfolds in its pages. This is reflected in Anne of Green Gables, which tells the story of an orphan girl who is mistakenly adopted and sent to work on a farm. 

Montgomery herself had a lonely childhood; as a result, she made imaginary friends and worlds to entertain herself. This sparked her creative side and inspired her to become a writer. Time is a constant theme throughout her work, and while she is considered a modernist writer, her creation is distinct from their contemporaries.

Anne of Green Gables
  • Montgomery, L.M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 194 Pages - 07/06/2014 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

4. Kathleen Margaret Pearson

Kathleen Marget Pearson, who often went by Kit Pearson, is another famous Canadian novelist. She is mainly a children’s writer who gets her inspiration from the children she sees in her local community. She often combines what she sees with her own childhood experiences to craft unique stories that children of all generations can relate to.

She is a master of developing characters, storylines, plots, and settings. She lived in British Columbia as a child, where many of her stories occurred. She had a unique childhood, and this is reflected in her work. Even though time marches on, her stories are still relatable, and kids love them to this day. 

If you want to explore the creative talents of Kit Pearson, you should start with the Guests of War Trilogy. This story focuses on two English children who need to move from England to Canada due to the German Blitz during World War II. It contains numerous powerful themes along with vivid storytelling that everyone will love. 

The Guests of War Trilogy: The Sky is Falling / Looking at the Moon / The Lights Go On Again
  • Pearson, Kit (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 11/25/2003 (Publication Date) - Penguin Global (Publisher)

5. Rohinton Mistry

Rohinton Mistry is a talented writer of Indian and Canadian descent. He is a fiction writer known for his fantastic precision, as every line he writes has a clear purpose. Given his unique background, many of his works focus on that.

In his works, his characters often struggle to find themselves. It’s almost like they are stuck between two worlds; as a result, the characters in his stories go on a mission to discover their purposes in life while struggling with a lack of self-worth. They often have difficulty dealing with unusual social situations and struggle to fit into a new society while maintaining strong relationships with their family members. The honesty in his work is what sets it apart, and there is always an element of compassion with complete transparency. 

Ultimately, Mistry’s openness and direct writing style have made him one of the most popular writers in the history of Canada. If you want to explore his work for yourself, you should start with A Fine Balance. This is a novel that focuses on the central government in India and how it cracked down on civil liberties between 1975 and 1984. 

A Fine Balance
  • Great product!
  • Mistry, Rohinton (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 603 Pages - 07/23/1997 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

6. Mordecai Richler

It is not unusual for great writers to find themselves in a bit of controversy from time to time, and that is certainly the case with Mordecai Richler. He was outspoken, direct, and unafraid to tackle some of the biggest problems of his era. His essays are thought-provoking, and a bit is enraging.

He often wrote about nationalism and the issues that it creates. He has tackled antisemitism and the Quebec secession movement, which has come and gone throughout the years. His most famous work is The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which was turned into a movie shortly after publication.

Children might even know the work of Richler, as he is the creator of the Jacob Two-Two series. He has published numerous short stories, anthologies, and book series, while also contributing to movies and magazines. If you want to dive into the mind of Richler, consider starting with Barney’s Version

Barney's Version (Vintage International)
  • Mordecai Richler (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 417 Pages - 05/04/2010 (Publication Date) - Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (Publisher)

7. Alice Munro

Alice Munro is another writer who is often listed among the most outstanding Canadian authors of all time. She has written several powerful, deep, and touching short stories. Her work even won her the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013.

Her stories are deeply intimate, and the reader almost feels like they are getting a glimpse into a private diary. Even though there is a tremendous variety in her work, it all focuses on balancing work and love. Many of her books focus on gender roles.

Her powerful writing style has impacted Canadian society and the world. This has made her one of the most celebrated writers in recent memory.

Some of her most famous works include A Wilderness Station, How I Met My Husband, and Boys and Girls. Many of these stories occur in Huron County, Ontario, where she lives. While there are numerous stories you should explore, a short story collection called Dear Life is an excellent place to start.

Dear Life: Stories (Vintage International)
  • Alice Munro
  • short stories
  • women's fiction
  • Munro, Alice (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

8. Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat
Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat is the author to explore if you are looking for works that a true Canadian writes. Most of his books are written for a young adult audience, and many of them are required reading in Canadian schools. His works have been translated into dozens of languages, and he is usually listed among the most significant Canadian authors ever. 

As a result of his literary skills, he has won numerous awards. He has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and he has received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver, Diamond, and Golden Jubilee Medals.

While countless works are worth exploring, one of his most famous works is Never Cry Wolf. This book was published in 1963 and was even made into a movie in 1984.

The book focuses on changing the way people think about wolves, which certainly had that effect. The novel portrays wolves as necessary to society because they consume rodents instead of focusing on wolves as villains in stories, which is more common. When the book was published, there was a lot of concern in Canada that wolves were responsible for destroying the caribou population, which is sacred in Canada. 

Never Cry Wolf : Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves
  • Mowat, Farley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 09/13/2001 (Publication Date) - Back Bay Books (Publisher)

9. Miriam Toews

Miriam Toews
Miriam Toews

Born in 1964, Miriam Toews is one of the younger writers on this list; however, she has already positioned herself as one of the most extraordinary literary talents of the younger generations of Canadian writers. Her sister’s suicide served as the inspiration for her landmark work, All My Puny Sorrows. 

She is also known for A Complicated Kindness. This book focuses on a 16-year-old girl coming of age but rebels against her community while keeping her family together as it comes apart at the seams. She is unsure of her place in society, but she finds it in the book.

Her works have won her several awards, including the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Writer’s Trust Engel and Findley Award.

A Complicated Kindness: A Novel
  • Toews, Miriam (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 01/05/2016 (Publication Date) - Counterpoint (Publisher)

10. Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden
Joseph Boyden

A First Nations writer, Joseph Boyden is an author of historical fiction. He usually picks a recent period in history and uses vivid imagery to spin a fantastic tale based on current events. Typically, he focuses on groups in Canada that have been traditionally marginalized. 

Boyden was interested in literature from a young age, and his novel Three Day Road put him on the map in 2006. The story focuses on two young men of Cree descent who volunteer to fight in World War I. They end up becoming snipers. It won the First Novel Award and, while it was controversial in some corners, it was defended by other high-profile writers.

Another novel, titled Through Black Spruce, earned him the Scotiabank Giller Prize award. He also published The Orenda, which won the Canada Reads award in 2013. While many of these books are recent publications, they are well on their way to becoming Canadian literature classics

Three Day Road
  • Boyden, Joseph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 354 Pages - 04/25/2006 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

11. Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies
Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies authored numerous critically acclaimed novels, writing plays, news articles, and essays. He also created the Stratford Shakespearean Festival of Canada while serving on the board of governors.

Robertson Davies worked with his family members, William Rupert Davies and Arthur Davies, to open several media outlets. They shared radio broadcasts and TV shows with countless individuals and families across the country. Robertson Davies also worked as the editor of The Examiner, which launched his writing career. Soon, he would become one of the greatest Canadian writers of all time.

Later, he was given The Order of Ontario and The Order of Canada. He was even a member of the Royal Society of Literature. During his literary career, he wrote 30 books, one of his most popular ones being What’s Bred in the Nine, which won him the Booker Prize. His most famous quote is, “all mothers think their children are oaks, but the world never lacks for cabbages.” This quote perfectly encapsulates the type of author he was. 

What's Bred in the Bone: The Cornish Trilogy, Book 2
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Audio CD – Audiobook
  • Davies, Robertson (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/01/2012 (Publication Date) - Blackstone Audiobooks (Publisher)

12. Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen

The list of amazing Canadian writers is long, but Leonard Cohen should undoubtedly be on the list. He has a wide variety of works that have earned him critical acclaim, including songs and poems. One of his most popular works is the song Hallelujah, written in 1984 and remains incredibly popular. The song has been translated into numerous languages and performed by more than 200 recording artists during the past few decades.

However, he is best known as a poet. He is widely considered a Renaissance artist of many talents, universally loved and respected by all. His landmark novel, The Favourite Game, remains a popular book and put him on the map as a talented author. If you enjoyed our round-up of the best Canadian authors, we have many more articles on the best authors from around the globe. You might want to check out our list of the best Russian authors. Or use the search bar at the top right of the page to search for authors in a country or region you are interested in.

The Favourite Game. Leonard Cohen
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  • Mint Condition
  • Dispatch same day for order received before 12 noon
  • Guaranteed packaging
  • No quibbles returns

13. Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson
Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson is a Canadian short-story writer and novelist known for her dark humor and disturbing storylines. Her Gothic fiction has impacted countless generations of readers, and her writing is incredibly intuitive despite how she explores the darkest sides of humanity. While there is always an element of humor, the reader will usually come away with questions about what people might be hiding. Some of her most significant influences include David Cronenberg and Stephen King, and she frequently writes about serial killers and drug dealers.

If you would like to take a look inside the mind of Eden Robinson, you may want to start with Traplines. This story focuses on four teenagers from different backgrounds; however, none come from an ideal situation, as each of the four families is incredibly dysfunctional. Every teenager responds differently, and they all do some growing up along the way.

Traplines: Stories
  • Robinson, Eden (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 03/01/1998 (Publication Date) - Henry Holt & Co (Publisher)

14. Heather O’Neill

Heather O’Neill
Heather O’Neill

Next, you might want to take a closer look at the works of Heather O’Neill. She was born in Montreal, and she has always been interested in writing but is also known for her love of animals, particularly dogs. She is incredibly popular among academic circles, but she has written for a wide variety of audiences over the years.

Her debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, was released in 2007, and it won the award for Canada Reads that very same year. Lullabies for Little Criminals was also selected for the Hugh MacLennan Prize for fiction. The book became an international bestseller, and it placed O’Neill on the map. 

Lullabies for Little Criminals: A Novel
  • O'Neill, Heather (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 04/05/2016 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial (Publisher)

15. Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock
Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock is frequently listed among the top Canadian writers. His writing is known for its understated humor and keen ability to find comedy in the mundane situations of everyday life. 

Leacock became a writer due to an interest in comedy. His stories have a long list of comic characters, and he has a tremendous amount of artistic skill. He has a vast collection of short reports that are still popular.

While he was active during the first half of the 20th century, his works are still relevant, and people of all ages continue to read his stories. In addition to his work as a writer, he was a prominent social critic, teacher, and political scientist. If you want to explore Leacock’s works for yourself, you might want to start with Literary Lapses

Literary Lapses
  • Leacock, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 124 Pages - 12/19/2006 (Publication Date) - Echo Library (Publisher)

16. Thomas King

Thomas King
Thomas King

Thomas King is a screenwriter, photographer, short story writer, novelist, and essayist. He was a prominent activist for aboriginals in North America during his life. His stories showcase many of the issues that this marginalized group faces daily.

Many of his works put together an informal tone with humorous characters, helping people relate better to the trials and tribulations of his group. While relationships with natives in North America have improved during the past few decades, much work is still done. King’s work reminds us all that we should not forget it.

If you are interested in checking out King’s work for yourself, you may want to start with Green Grass, Running Water. This story focuses on the individual lives of an exciting group of characters from a small town in Canada in the not-so-distant past. 

Green Grass, Running Water: A Novel
  • King, Thomas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 469 Pages - 07/01/1994 (Publication Date) - Bantam Books (Publisher)

17. Sinclair Ross

Sinclair Ross is one of the most popular fiction writers from Canada. Much of his writing focuses on intellectual isolation, and many of his stories are about what life is like on the prairies of Western Canada. As a result, his work frequently contains vivid depictions of the unique Canadian landscape, giving the reader a glimpse into life in this part of the world.

If you would like to explore the mind of Sinclair Ross, you should start with As for Me and My House. This story focuses on a prairie town in the Midwest and focuses on the hardships faced by a minister and his wife. The reader will get a glimpse into what it is like to struggle to survive in this part of the world and the rewards it can bring to those who tough it out. 

As for Me and My House
  • Ross, Sinclair (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 165 Pages - 12/01/1978 (Publication Date) - Univ of Nebraska Pr (Publisher)

18. Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence
Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence is one of the most popular children’s writers of all time. She is widely regarded as one of the top Canadian writers, and she has always shown an interest in writing stories for others. She began telling stories at the age of seven, and her career blossomed quickly. 

During her adult years, she lived in Africa. She got to experience many of the problems that developing countries were facing at the time, and her experience overseas informed her writing, even though her primary audience was children. She published a wide variety of short stories, memoirs, and essays, to teach the younger generation to care about one another. She focused on both Canada and Africa, and her stories continue to impact people even today.

If you would like to explore the world of Margaret Laurence for yourself, you should start with The Stone Angel. This series of novels tells parallel stories about a woman in her 90s approaching her death as she looks back on everything in her life. 

The Stone Angel (Phoenix Fiction)
  • Laurence, Margaret (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 318 Pages - 06/15/1993 (Publication Date) - University of Chicago Press (Publisher)

19. Robert Munsch

Robert Munsch
Robert Munsch

Robert Munsch is frequently included on the list of the most significant Canadian authors of all time. Even though he always liked to share stories with other people, he didn’t truly begin writing until he felt his stories were down pat. Then, his writing took off from there.

He started as a student-teacher at a nursery school. He loved to share stories with children, and he frequently injected his stories with a tremendous amount of emotion to keep the attention of his listeners. If you grew up in Canada, there is a good chance that you read some of his stories for yourself. Many of them are still told in nurseries to this day.

If you would like to take a closer look at some of his work, you should explore Love You Forever. This classic picture book focuses on how the relationship between a boy and his mother evolves. Even though it is meant for children, it will tug at the heartstrings of just about everyone. 

Love You Forever
  • A young woman holds her newborn son And looks at him lovingly.
  • Softly she sings to him: "I'll love you forever I'll like you for always As long as I'm living My baby you'll be."
  • Robert Munsch (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 09/01/1995 (Publication Date) - Firefly Books (Publisher)

20. Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is arguably the most famous contemporary Canadian writer. He is well-known as a motivational speaker, non-fiction author, and journalist.

He looks for mundane activities in life and tries to make them appear counterintuitive. He focuses on social psychology, sociology, and sociology in his work and tries to shed light on what makes some people different and why people act the way they do. His ideas are always fascinating to people, and they have made him one of the bestselling authors of the 21st century. 

In addition, he weaves a tremendous amount of suspense into his stories, ensuring people cannot stop reading until they reach the end, which is what happens in his story titled Outliers: The Story of Success. It was a bestseller when it was released, and it remains popular to this day. The book focuses on the factors that drive people to the top of their respective fields, regardless of athletes, musicians, or researchers. He talks about natural talent and the hard work it takes to get there in the book. 

Outliers: The Story of Success
  • Portada aleatoria
  • Gladwell, Malcolm (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 06/07/2011 (Publication Date) - Back Bay Books (Publisher)

21. Susan Juby

Susan Juby is a writer who focuses on comedy and humor for younger adults. Her sole goal has been to write the types of books that she would want to read herself during her writing career. She has already positioned herself as one of the scholarly and artistic leaders of the next generation of talented writers.

She has spent a lot of time mentoring other writers to develop a career for themselves. While she draws on inspiration from numerous prior generations of Canadian writers, she has developed a uniquely her style, drawing on several important topics in Canadian culture today. 

If you want to take a closer look at Juby’s work, you should start with the Alice series. There are several titles, including Alice, I Think; Miss Smithers; and Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last. As the name suggests, the series focuses on Alice. She is a misfit teen who has been homeschooled for most of her life, but she needs to adapt to society.

Alice, I Think
  • Juby, Susan (Author) - Goethals, Angela (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/01/2003 (Publication Date) - Harpercollins Childrens (Publisher)

A Final Word On Canadian Authors

There are hundreds of Canadian authors to choose from, and these are only a few of the very best. There’s something for everyone on this list, from poetry, horror, and children’s fiction. If you enjoyed reading about the best Canadian authors, you might also be interested in learning about the best Japanese authors

Frequently Asked Questions About Canadian Authors

What Language Do Canadian Authors Write-In?

Most Canadian authors write in English, but many Canadians also speak French.

Who Are Some Up-And-Coming Canadian Authors?

Keep an eye out for Jillian Christmas, Gemma Hickey, and David Ly.