Category Archives: 2017 Festival

Michael Ondaatje and Jane Urquhart Headliners of 2017 Alice Munro Festival

Michael Ondaatje
for immediate release
May 5, 2017

This year’s Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story starts things off with a screening of the 1974 documentary The Clinton Special: A Film About the Farm Show by Michael Ondaatje. The film documents the creation of the now legendary collective theatre play The Farm Show. In 1972 Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille Company moved into the farming community of Clinton, Ontario and area, and made a play out of the stories and events of the people of that region. The following spring, the company took its play, "The Farm Show," on a tour of the farming communities of southwestern Ontario, sometimes performing in auction barns and town halls.

The screening will be followed by an onstage discussion with Mr. Ondaatje and Paul Thompson, director of The Farm ShowThe Clinton Special screening takes place at 7:30 pm on Friday, June 2 at Blyth Memorial Hall. Tickets are $15.00 and are available through the Blyth Festival Box Office, 1-877-862-5984 or

The story of The Farm Show and its impact on Huron County and Canadian theatre continues with a program called The Drawer Boy from Stage to Screen on Saturday, June 3.  The Drawer Boy, an award winning play by Michael Healey revisited the creation of The Farm Show. Set in 1972 on a farm near Clinton, Ontario the play follows three characters: the farm's two owners, Morgan and Angus, and Miles, a young actor from Toronto doing research for a collectively created theatre piece about farming. A new film adaptation of the play was shot during the late summer of 2016 using many of the original locations in Huron County.  As a thank you to the community where the story takes place and film was shot, the film's Director/Producer, Arturo Perez Torres and Associate Director/Producer, Aviva Armour-Ostroff will be on hand to share the process of adapting the play for the screen, before the film debuts on the film festival circuit in 2017. This special event is by invitation only and anyone wishing to attend is asked to contact the Blyth Festival Box Office to reserve their space. 

Filmmaker, Rachel Thompson will also be screening her new documentary Theatre Beyond Walls with Paul Thompson, that tells the incredible story of Paul Thompson and a theatre company that provoked a cultural movement in Canada which includes The Farm Show.

Governor General Award winning author, Jane Urquhart will read from her national bestseller, A Number of Things: Stories About Canada Told Through 50 Objects at the Short Story Contest awards luncheon on Saturday, June 3.  Ms. Urquhart will be joined by the book’s illustrator, Scott McKowen. Together they will share some of the remarkable stories of the fifty objects and places that tell a powerful narrative about Canada in our sesquicentennial year.

A new partnership between the Festival and the Maitland Trail Association will see author Kyo Maclear go off the page and into the field as she and local guide Roger Goddard, lead a birding walk along the Maitland Trail on the morning of Sunday, June 4. Maclear’s national bestseller, 

Birds Art Life, follows her year-long adventure following a Toronto musician that is also a bird lover and photographer. The memoir celebrates the particular madness of loving and chasing after birds in a big city.

Other programming highlights for 2017 include:  

Grandmothers, Sisters, & Aunties: The Female Voice in First Nation Storytelling, a panel of three acclaimed Canadian First Nation authors: Lee Maracle, Cherie Dimaline and Falen Johnson discuss how their own work and the voices of other indigenous female authors is contributing to the oeuvre of CanLit in the 21st century. 

Screening of the 2015 documentary film, Al Purdy Was Here with director and producer Brian D. Johnson. The documentary looks at the legacy of Canada’s unofficial poet laureate.  In 1957 Al Purdy and his wife built an A-frame cabin on Roblin Lake in Ontario’s Prince Edward County that becomes a mecca for the early pioneers of Canadian literature. 

Our annual Books & Brunch event on Sunday, June 4 at The Livery in Goderich will have an all-Canadian theme in celebration of Canada’s 150th.  Panelists Merilyn Simonds, Marni Jackson and Eva Crocker will share and discuss their favourite Canadian short stories and authors.

The 2017 Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story includes a series of masterclasses that allow emerging writers of all levels to learn from and network with the guest authors as well as readings and panel discussions. Program details, including box office information, for the festival can be found on the website The Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story is supported by the Ontario Arts Council, Township of North Huron, the County of Huron, Howick Mutual Insurance Company and Capital Power Corporation.


Michael Ondaatje photo credit: Linda Spalding



Rick Sickinger        519-482-5457 ext. 2730

Connie Goodall        519-357-3550 ext. 131


Winning Short Stories 2016

Youth Category
Caleb Butcher of Ottawa wins first place for his story, He Waits
Iza Agullar of the Waterloo region wins second place for Remembering Autumn
Curtis Jeffrey of Goderich wins third place for Creeping Normality

Adult Category
Judy Waytiuk of Winnipeg wins first place for her story, The Neighbour
Ragna Goodwin of Peterborough wins second place for Wits End
Connie Cook of Melancthon wins third place for Reflections at a Funeral