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Rene Schmidt

René Schmidt

Photo: Dan Schmidt

René Schmidt was born in Holland and immigrated to Canada when he was three. His parents came too. In his teens and twenties he worked as an underground mine worker, truck driver, construction worker, taxi driver, ship officer trainee and upholsterer. René studied theatre performance at Ryerson and is a graduate of York University's Creative Writing Program and Faculty of Education. As a teacher René began writing high-interest low vocabulary books for his students. His first book, Canadian Disasters by Scholastic Canada (1985 edition) was a top bestseller and reprinted three times. New editions followed in 1999, 2006 and 2013. Leaving Fletchville, an award-winning fiction novel, deals with parenthood, racism, friendship and bullying.

In the last ten years René built an energy efficient house, managed a youth drop in centre and taught Senior Drama at a local high school. He and Shirley have two sons, Adrian and Daniel. René enjoys his 40 acres and plants trees, cuts wood, does carpentry and rides a vintage motorcycle. He frequently judges short fiction for the Writer's Union.   

c/o Writers' Union of Canada


Canadian Disasters 43 True Stories . 2013, Scholastic Canada
Leaving Fletchville . 2008, Orca Book Publishers
Canadian Disasters . 2006, Scholastic Canada
Disaster! . 1999,2000 , Scholastic Canada
Canadian Disasters . 1985 , Scholastic Canada


Rene Schmidt for Leaving Fletchville , 2010
Best Books for Kids and Teens for Leaving Fletchville , 2009
Best Books for Kids and Teens for Canadian Disasters , 2013
School Library Journal USA - Recommended for Leaving Fletchville , 2010
Eligible for National Public Readings Program:


Are you available for public presentations and/or workshops:
Presentation Description

Rene presents historical events as accurately as possible and uses performance and teaching techniques to make presentations that are insightful, quick and never boring. He adapts to the needs of the audience and makes changes seamlessly.  He uses various electronic media for visual displays such as PowerPoint or Keynote, and he will present remotely with Zoom or Skype or similar programs.  He will address your specific historical needs or interests.       

Presentation Length:
from 45 to 90 minutes
Rene will present to any group of adults or specific interest groups such as reading clubs, historical societies or disaster response teams.
Audience Size:
5 to 100
$200 for an hour presentation, $400 for two sessions of an hour or more.
Workshop Description:

Fletchville Math. This math teaching and budgeting program was invented by another teacher but Rene developed it into a year-long, once a week series of lessons that teach financial awareness in realistic and enjoyable assignments. All five mathematics strands in the Ontario Curriculum are covered and marks are easily generated. Other subject areas are also covered, or can be, for self-contained classrooms using the Fletchville money management system. 

Participants are given outline lessons and adaptable assignments they can use the very next day.  

Workshop Length:
90 - 120 minutes
Workshop Intended Audience:
Teachers of Grades 6 to 12
Workshop Audience Size:
10 to 50
Workshop Fee:
$200 per session, plus travel expenses.
Are you available for school visits?:
School Presentation Description:

For almost 30 years, Rene taught every grade from Kg to OAC. He has many presentations in PowerPoint format and he can present remotely with Zoom or Skype or similar programs. 

The four Canadian Disasters series of books accurately cover 73 tragic events in Canada's pre and post-Confederation history. Some are forgotten stories that still appeal vividly to readers of all abilities. Rene brings this history to life with additional details, visuals, and little-known connections to people or places. He emphasizes how many disasters resulted in positive resolutions in law or safety standards. Presentations can be prepared thematically or with an eye to a geographical area or a historical time period.   

Leaving Fletchville is a heart-warming story of youth and loyalty and brotherhood in the face of racism and a difficult home life.  

School Presentation Length:
45 to 120 minutes
School Intended Audience:
Junior Intermediate or Senior Division
School Audience Size:
10 to 100
School Presentation Fee:
WITS Grants are available. $180 for one session, $250 for two, $350 for three and $500 for a full day visit.
Interested in participating in the Union’s Ontario Writers-in-the-Schools program:
Interested in participating in the Northern Ontario WITS program: