Author, Conservationist, and Founder of The Writers’ Union of Canada Graeme Gibson Has Passed Away

Graeme Gibson at the 2013 TWUC AGM in Ottawa.
Graeme Gibson at the 2013 TWUC AGM in Ottawa.

The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC) is deeply saddened by the news of Graeme Gibson’s passing. Mr. Gibson died this morning in London, England where he was accompanying his partner, Margaret Atwood, on a book tour. He was 85 years old.

Gibson was the author of four novels and an influential book of interviews with Canadian writers. He was also a renowned birder and conservationist. He edited two anthologies, The Bedside Book of Birds (2005) and The Bedside Book of Beasts (2009), exploring the natural world.

It was Gibson who, in the early 1970s, climbed the statue of Egerton Ryerson outside Ryerson University in Toronto in order to protest the sale of Ryerson Press to a US company. This incident, widely covered in the press at the time, is credited with sparking the collective fire among Canadian writers that quickly led to the foundation of a number of institutions, including The Writers’ Union of Canada and the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Interviewed by TWUC Past Chair Christopher Moore for 2015’s Founding The Writers’ Union of Canada: An Oral History, Gibson said of the statue-climbing stunt, “We discovered we had influence. That then started the pot boiling.”  

In 2013, at the 40th anniversary TWUC AGM in Ottawa. Gibson once again provided historic leadership to the Union when he seconded the motion to accept self-published authors into TWUC, and spoke passionately about expanding the tent to help all writers.

Tributes to Graeme Gibson have already been published in several media outlets, including the Toronto Star and the CBC.

An In Memoriam appreciation will appear in the Winter issue of Write magazine.