Annual writers festival returns March 15-16

Campbell River writer’s festival a link to the highest ideals

You can enter bigger worlds through artistic experiences

The Words on the Water writers festival connects Campbell River with the big ideas and grander concepts of the arts.

“You can enter bigger worlds through artistic experiences,” said Ruth McMonagle, festival spokesperson. “In our small community, we have the best and most avante garde writers in B.C.”

McMonagle, one of the co-founders of the annual writers festival, is referring to the line-up of authors Words on the Water manages to attract every year for the last 13 years.

Attending this year’s festival March 15-16 at the Maritime Heritage Centre will be another stellar stable of


  • Charlotte Gill (Haig-Brown Writer in Residence)
  • Madeleine Thien
  • Fred Wah
  • JJ Lee
  • Rawi Hage
  • Matthew Hooton
  • Anakana Schofield
  • Janet Marie Rogers

In the 13 years the festival has been running, the publishing industry has undergone big changes but the core of it – the art of writing – has never been stronger. There are probably more venues for writers now than there ever was. More and more, people are self publishing or publishing with small companies, McMonagle said. There are also internet venues – blogs and websites – that writers use now.

“All that is changing and it is not negative changes, it’s a positive change,” McMonagle said.

Although the publishing industry has evolved, Words on the Water resists the urge to change in one sense, the organizers strive to keep the festival small and intimate, believing that’s a strength of the Campbell River event. A strength that attracts the writers as much as the audience.

“We’re just really, really excited because all of them (this year’s writers) are quality writers and they’re happy to come,” McMonagle said.

As always, the festival is a broad-based community effort from a committee of dedicated volunteers to supportive businesses. The festival has created a legacy of fostering a writing culture in Campbell River. Writing seminars are being held by the Campbell River Community Arts Council and other organizations.

“There’s an incredible increased passion for reading and writing in the community,” McMonagle said. “This is great. This is what we dreamed of is this passion for writing.”

You can indulge in your passion for writing by taking advantage of the early bird price for a festival pass – $65 if bought before March 1. After that, the Regular Weekend Pass is $85. Individual session passes are $20 for the Friday night; $20 per individual Saturday session; and $20 for Saturday night.

The schedule for this year’s event is:

  • Friday Evening Panel – This evening serves as an introduction to all of our guest writers. The writers will address questions about the craft of writing and the art of storytelling and the conversation will begin the Words on the Water Festival. The opening also features local musical talent, a no-host bar and delicious hors d’oeuvres.
  • Saturday Sessions – The Saturday readings are organized into four 90 minute sessions. Two writers are assigned to a session and each will have up to 40 minutes for a reading. Many writers leave time at the end for audience questions.
  • Saturday Evening Cabaret – A last glance at the authors and time for stories. Includes hors d’oeuvres, local musical talent and a no host bar.

Tickets are available online through the Tidemark Theatre’s website ( or by calling the theatre at 250-287-7465. Visit the festival’s website at