Marguerite R. Dow Canadian Heritage Award

Awarded by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities through the generosity of Marguerite R. Dow, Professor Emerita, The University of Western Ontario, who taught English and Drama in the Faculty of Education from 1965 to 1985.

A prize up to $1,000 is awarded to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident registered in any undergraduate or graduate program at Western. 

Congratulations to our winners!

Gabrielle Drolet - "Little Malta"

‘Little Malta’ is a touching exploration of familial identity. The speaker recounts the stories ‘Nana’ tells of Malta - ‘the clotheslines hanging between bright houses’, fish cooking in the family restaurant, picking snails from rocks – and describes her own life in ‘Little Malta’, ‘a small community of men and women who fled an isolated country’ and who still attend Maltese Mass and eat pastizzis. When Nana came to Canada, she came with her three young children and without their father, the speaker’s grandfather. Gabrielle reorients this reflection on familial identity beautifully when the speaker hears that the absent grandfather is alive, now an isolated island himself unable to communicate or remember, in a hospital room in either Malta or Australia.

Noelle Schmidt - "an inheritance"

The poem "an inheritance" powerfully features a direct address to "you," who turns out to be a young World War II soldier from Hungary who does not believe in the war but finds that no one cares and he must fight to survive. The speaker of the poem encounters the living and dead victims of the Nazis and the lines accumulate the horrific reality that "you are eighteen years old and alone / and everything is afire." The end of the poem finds the speaker in Canada but it is as if the war is still ongoing, but this time the bodies are of Indigenous peoples whose children are stolen and killed. The poem is intense and unrelenting from start to finish. The final words of the poem remain vividly nightmarish with the phrase "but i know there are / two genocides in my blood."

Contest Rules

  1. Entries must be submitted by Friday, February 1, 2019.
  2. Participants must submit, in English or French, any personal and recent work of creative writing, in any genre or length, on a theme of Canadian Heritage.
  3. The theme may focus on any subject (such as place, relationships, history, circumstances, etc.).
  4. You should submit work that has not hitherto been published or entered in any other competition.
  5. If submitting in French, please include an English translation.
  6. One entry per person.
  7. One of the following would be a suitable submission:
    • a poem, or a brief series of linked poems
    • a one-act play, or scenes from a longer work
    • a short story or novella, or selections from a longer work of fiction
  8. Submissions must include a cover page with the following information:
    • your name
    • student number
    • email address
    • telephone number
    • contest name: Marguerite R. Dow Canadian Heritage Award
    • do not include any personally identifiable information on the work itself
  9. Entries must be submitted in hard copy only to the Department of English and Writing Studies, University College, Room 2401, Western University.
  10. The winning entry will be named by April of 2019.
  11. The winner will be notified by email.
  12. The results will be posted on the Department of English website and social media channels.


Shelli Hunter |

Printable version Marguerite R. Dow 2018


Year First prize Title Adjudicators
2019 Gabrielle Drolet
Noelle Schmidt
"Little Malta" & "an inheritance" Professors Joshua Schuster and James Purkis
2018 Emma Croll-Baehre & Trevor Zaple "Untitled" & "Sodom Road" Professors Madeline Bassnett and Joshua Schuster
2017 Alero Ogbeide “The Best Worst Place I’ve Ever Lived” Professors Madeline Bassnett and Joshua Schuster