Alice Munro Has Deep BC Roots

Posted by Howard on Oct 10, 2013
Alice Munro

In the flurry of press coverage about Alice Munro, Canada's first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the reclusive Canadian short story writer is invariably described as an Ontario resident who writes about small town Ontario. It is seldom mentioned that she lived for 22 years in British Columbia, formed many of her deepest associations in BC, launched her career here and wrote some of her most memorable stories about her BC experience as a young wife and mother struggling to become a writer. All four of her children were born in BC. While living in Vancouver Munro became a close friend of the novelist Margaret Laurence, who was then going through her own struggles to become a professional writer, and received encouragement from the established BC novelist Ethel Wilson. In 1963 she and her first husband Jim Munro started Munro's Books in Victoria, which has since become a BC institution and one of the finest independent bookstores in Canada. In 1968 Munro published her first book, Dance of the Happy Shades, which won the Governor General's Award for fiction and set her on her way as a writer. Her contributions to BC literature are such that in 2005, she became the 11th recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an Outstanding Literary Career in British Columbia.


In 1975 she moved back to Ontario, taking up residence in Clinton, 35 miles from where she was born in Wingham, but in the early 1990s she began spending winters back in BC, acquiring property near Comox. Since the death of her second husband Gerald Fremlin in April, 2013, she has been living in Victoria. "I like the West Coast attitudes,” Munro has said. “Winters [there] to me are sort of like a holiday. People are thinking about themselves. The way I grew up, people were thinking about duty."


For more on Alice Munro, see