Fonds RC0014 - David Helwig fonds

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David Helwig fonds

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  • 1958-2018 (Creation)
    Helwig, David

Physical description area

Physical description

15.06 m of textual records, sound recordings and graphic material

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Biographical history

David Helwig was born in Toronto in April 1938 and was raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He received his BA from the University of Toronto in 1960 and earned his Masters at the University of Liverpool in 1962.

During the mid-1960s, Helwig became established in the Canadian literary scene by co-founding Quarry Magazine with Tom Marshall and Michael Ondaatje. Based in Kingston, Ontario, he became an English professor at Queens University and taught courses at Collins Bay Penitentiary. Using prose interviews with an inmate of the penitentiary, Helwig published a book about his experiences titled A Book About Billie (Oberon Press, 1972).

Between 1974 and 1976, Helwig worked as the literary manager of CBC’s television drama department, and continued to work freelance at CBC in the following decades.

Helwig is the author of 17 books of poetry, 25 books of fiction, and several other books which include translations, collected essays, and his memoir. Among his novels are a collection set in Kingston, Ontario, known as “The Kingston Novels”: The Glass Knight (1976), Jennifer (1979), It’s Always Summer (1982), and A Sound Like Laughter (1983). His autobiography, The Names of Things: A Memoir was published in 2006. His poetry collections have received numerous awards, including the CBC poetry award for Catchpenny Poems (1983), and the Atlantic Poetry Award for The Year One (2004).

In 1996, Helwig relocated to Prince Edward Island. He was appointed the province’s Poet Laureate in 2008 and received the Order of Canada in 2009. He is also a recipient of the Matt Cohen Award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada for lifetime contribution to Canadian literature.
As an essayist, Helwig published regularly in the Globe and Mail’s Facts & Arguments section (1990-1992) and the monthly PEI magazine, The Buzz (2005-2015).

His partner, Judy Gaudet, is an accomplished poet. His daughter, Maggie Helwig, is an Anglican priest, author, and social advocate in Toronto.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds contains material falling under the following catagories: correspondence; full-length fiction; short fiction; non-fiction; books edited; poetry, articles; book reviews; notebooks; radio scripts; television scripts; film scripts; plays; printed material; royalty statements; printing material for The Saturday Morning Chapbook Series and miscellaneous.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The first accrual was acquired in September 1985; the second in April 1989; the third in January 1992; the fourth in August 1994; the fifth in September 1998; the sixth in August 2003, all from David Helwig. The seventh accrual was acquired from George Loewen via David Helwig in March 2010.


The fonds consists of nine accruals. The first accrual is arranged into 14 series: correspondence; full-length fiction; short fiction; non-fiction; books edited; poetry, articles; book reviews; notebooks; radio scripts; television scripts; film scripts; plays; printed material and miscellaneous. Part of this accession was missed from the original description. It has been arranged as an addendum in three series: correspondence; manuscripts and typescripts and proofs; and reviews of Helwig's books and poems. The second accrual (20-1989) is arranged into five series: novels; plays; book reviews; poetry; and correspondence. The third accrual (11-1992) consists of Helwig's M.A. thesis as well as some of his published works. The fourth accrual (44-1995) is arranged into three series: correspondence; manuscripts and typescripts; and reviews of Helwig's books. Correspondence and reviews are arranged alphabetically. Following the correspondence files is a file of miscellaneous items including a 1992 calendar which was used by Helwig to record his appointments. Manuscripts and typescripts are arranged as follows: articles, fiction, books by others, translations, radio plays, scripts proposals and poetry. The fifth accrual (25-1998) is arranged into 7 series: correspondence; manuscripts and typescripts; manuscripts edited; poetry and essays; book reviews and movie reviews; radio talks and plays; newspaper journalism and miscellaneous. The sixth accrual (04-2004) is arranged into 6 series: manuscripts and typescripts; manuscripts edited; poetry; radio plays; articles; reviews and obituary and correspondence. The seventh accrual (22-2010) consists of correspondence between Helwig and George Loewen. The eighth accrual (2018-039) is arranged into 12 series: novels, short stories, translations, poetry, radio, television, and stage scripts, essays, correspondence, The Saturday Chapbook Series, royalty statements and publishing material, clippings, realia, and notebooks. The ninth accrual (2019-040) consists of correspondence with George Loewen.

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