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PEI Book Award

The Prince Edward Island Book Awards promote and celebrate excellence in creation and publication of books by Prince Edward Island authors, editors and creators. The book award was first presented in Prince Edward Island in 2006.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 PEI Book Awards! Check back in Fall 2017 for details on the 2018 Book Award.

2016 Book Award winners are Finley Martin, David Helwig and Debra Komar

More about the winners

The Dead Letter by Finley Martin (Acorn Press)

The hometown crowd can be tough to please. Many authors duck the responsibility by inventing a location that they can bend and shape to their own desires. Others make their characters caricatures inventing quirky beloved figures in a landscape. Finley Martin has chosen to something different. He has used the real landscape of Charlottetown and Stratford to set a story with people who could indeed be real – complete with flaws. Just like the people that you and I know. Against this he has been able to tell a story which has a plausibility to it. He tells the story very well and all of the readers of the panel shared their desire to read it at a single sitting – a good mystery novel does that and this is a very good mystery novel. For these reasons the panel has agreed that The Dead Letter should be on the short list for the P.E.I. book Award for fiction.

"Keeping Late Hours" by David Helwig (Oberon Press)

In the elegance and stillness of "Keeping Late Hours", David Helwig offers time as navigator to memory
and anticipation. Each observation is an exquisite snapshot of a moment, a place, a person, rendered in
deep, clear language. These poems mark time's passage hourly, daily, yearly, suspending it just long
enough for us to recognize that, "Beauty's afoot, the universe in disguise/ " (The Hours). As an arresting
and ambitious addition to an extraordinary body of work, the panel is pleased to name "Keeping Late
Hours" to the shortlist for the 2016 PEI Book Award for Poetry.

The Bastard of Fort Stikine by Debra Komar (Goose Lane Editions)

Mutiny, mystery, murder; you may be thinking these words begin the description of a book in the fiction
category. The Bastard of Fort Stikine, The Hudson’s Bay Company and The Murder of John McLoughlin
Jr., by Debra Komar, uses the historical record and techniques of modern forensic science to unlock
what happened on the night of April 21, 1842. It was then, at the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at
Fort Stikine, that Chief Trader John McLaughlin Jr. was murdered by his own men. In delving into this
unsolved crime and its context, Komar paints a fascinating picture of the complex interpersonal and
inter-cultural relationships which characterized the frontier work of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the
19th century. The result, at once an historical portrait of the HBC, a glimpse into the life of 19th century
Canada and a captivating murder investigation, makes for truly compelling reading and a book that is a
significant achievement on many levels.

Short list for 2016 Prince Edward Island Book Award


Those Splendid Girls: The Heroic Service of P.E.I. Nurses in the Great War by Katherine Dewar

The Bastard of Fort Stikine by Debra Komar

Samuel Holland: His Work and Legacy on Prince Edward Island by Earle Lockerby and Doug Sobey


Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire by Jillianne Hamilton

Somewhere I Belong by Glenna Jenkins

Dead Letter by Finley Martin


Conversation with Crows by Judy Gaudet

Keeping Late Hours by David Helwig

Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds by J. J. Steinfeld

Submissions in each category are assessed by an independent jury for the content, quality of design, and production. Winners will receive a cash prize and a handmade item created by an Island craftsperson. This year’s selection was by potter Patti Hawkins of Hawkins Pottery.

Jurors, in alphabetical order:

Harry Holman has been associated with cultural activities on Prince Edward Island for more than thirty years, most recently serving as Director of Cultural Affairs for the province where he developed several programs of recognition and assistance in the areas of arts and heritage. He has served as Director of Libraries and as Provincial Archivist. He holds a law degree from Queens University and professional qualifications from Ohio State Archives and the National Archives of Canada. Recognized at a municipal and provincial level for his historical writing, he has been published in a number of professional, academic and popular publications.

Jesse Francis is active in many aspects of heritage, arts and culture on Prince Edward Island in various capacities. He has managed and contributed to a wide range of culture and heritage projects and is co-author, along with AJB Johnston, of Ni'n na L'Nu: The Mi'kmaq of Prince Edward Island, which won the 2014 PEI Book Award (Non-fiction) and the APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award (2014). Jesse is Manager of Joint Projects for the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of PEI and Parks Canada. He lives in Wellington with his wife Moira and their three children.

Pat Joas was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, and moved to Fredericton, NB in 1981. She has worked as a bookseller for over 38 years for both trade and campus stores. In trade, she has worked for two chains, and two independents. On the campus side, she worked at the University of New Brunswick Bookstore, Fredericton, for 4 1/2 years, transferring to the Saint John campus bookstore in 1988 to manage that store until her retirement in 2012. In addition to textbooks, both campus stores carried a full and varied selection of trade titles, for which Pat was the sole buyer in Saint John. Active in the book community, Pat was co-organizer for the Lorenzo Reading Series in Saint John, and spent 8 years on the executive of the Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (4 years as President), as well as 6 years on the board of the national Canadian Booksellers Association, serving as President from 2004 to 2005.

Past recipients of the Prince Edward Island Book Award:



  • Ni'n na L'nu: The Mi'kmaq of Prince Edward Island - Jesse Francis and A.J.B. Johnston

  • Riptides: New Island Fiction, edited by Richard Lemm

  • The TWIG Collective - A Gathering of Twigs, edited by P. Susan Buchanan and Margot Maddison-MacFadyen



  • Marian Bruce - Remembering Old Dan

  • Patti Larsen - Run

  • Dianne Hicks Morrow - What Really Happened is This



  • John Sylvester - Wild Island

  • Steven Mayoff - Fatted Calf Blues

  • Brent MacLaine - Shades of Green




  • Georges Arsenault - La Mi-Carême en Acadie

  • Richard Lemm - Shape of Things to Come

  • Joseph Sherman - Beautiful Veins




  • Catherine Edward - Brow of Dawn


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