Tanis, with books 2016 Join Us May 28 with Tanis MacDonald for a discussion and workshop on:

“What’s Your Archive? Inheritance and Artistic Practice.”

An archive is usually defined as a repository of materials that are preserved into order to document a history; these can be as exalted as official holdings in the Library and Archive Canada in Ottawa, or as humble as a box of old letters that is kept in an attic or garage. Archives are often material (paper, electronic files, Facebook pages) but they can also be oral (folk tales and songs, family stories, oral histories of dangerous times).  The archive sustains a tension between remembering and forgetting. If we keep things – material mementos like ticket stubs, or books, or rings, or old diaries – we do so in order to aid our memories: to remember better. But it also abets forgetting. The archive, as a repository of memory, is vulnerable to the choices the archivist makes. It can prompt us but can never record everything, which is why we write. The pieces of the story that the archive preserves can “tell” a narrative that is made up of as many gaps as fragments. This talk will explore how to access your own artistic archive of gaps and fragments and how to consider the richness of what remains as literary material.

The workshop will discover “Re-writing the Family Archive.”  

If you are planning to participate in the “Re-writing the Family Archive” please come with a family story* that you wish to re-tell. Write it down very briefly and factually, in 20-50 words. Keep it short; part of what we do in the workshop will focus on how and what to re-tell. You may, if you wish, bring an object that is significant to the story.

Example: One Christmas, my uncle arrived on the bus from Alberta carrying a frozen turkey under his coat.

Example: My parents smuggled a bottle of wine into my grandmother’s strict teetotaller house for their wedding night.

Example: In 1914, my grandfather joined the British Army because he was starving and cold and coveted the wool coat and strong boots all the soldiers were wearing.

* This story can take place outside of the family, but it must have happened to a) someone to whom you have a strong attachment, and b) someone other than you. The exercise will work across genres: for memoir, fiction, or poetry.

Tanis MacDonald is a poet, editor, reviewer, and creative non-fiction writer. She has won the national Bliss Carman Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize in 2013 for her book The Daughter’s Way. Her next poetry book, Mobile, is coming out with BookThug in Fall 2019, and she is currently completing work on her instructional memoir, The Necessary Geek: Creative Citizenship and the Art You Make, for publication by Wolsak and Wynn in Spring 2018. She has new work appearing in The New Quarterly, Rhubarb, The Fourth River, Room, Poetry is Dead, Contemporary Verse 2, FreeFall and The Mondegreen, and in the anthology Noise. She has taught all over Canada in the last twenty years and currently teaches Canadian literature and creative writing in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Click here to Register 


The Writers’ Community of Simcoe County

functions as a hub for practitioners and fans of the written word. Our aim is to engage, inform and encourage writers at all levels and of all genres, independently and in co-operation with existing cultural and writing-related organizations, associations, libraries and community groups.

From September to June, we meet one Sunday a month from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. at The Leacock Museum, 50 Museum Drive, Orillia. Each month we feature speakers from all aspects of the writing life – authors, freelancers, editors, agents, and publishers – to motivate, inspire and enlighten writers and aspiring writers in our community. Each month we offer an optional hands-on workshop which follows a short break after the speaker. The workshop is from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm.

WCSC offers you opportunities for information-sharing, networking and support, education and professional development. Whether you are a fiction or non-fiction writer, poet, playwright, screenwriter, songwriter, editor, or someone who just loves the way words connect, you’ll find yourself at home at a WCSC  meeting.

If you’d like to be notified of what is developing with the organization, please send us a notice via the contact form on this website or subscribe using our RSS feed. Better still, you can become involved as a charter member. For more information, click on the Membership tab.

To listen to a radio interview with WCSC Past-President Deepam Wadds about the organization, CLICK HERE


We’re also seeking energetic folks with a variety of skills, life experiences and interests, to work as volunteers. Bring your organizational and networking expertise and to help chart the future of WCSC!

You’ll work with the WCSC Board to:

  • provide input on a broad range of administrative and financial matters
  • contribute to the development of outreach strategies for new members, speakers and presenters
  • assist with organizing our workshops and meetings
  • build partnerships with cultural, literary and educational organizations in the region

If you’re interested in getting involved, or volunteer in another capacity, please send us a notice via the contact form.


Subscribe to our e-newsletter mailing list

* indicates required

Email Format


We look forward to meeting you face-to-face. Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary act!




Don't live in Simcoe County?

We are connected to a number of other writing communities in Ontario. Click on the links below to be directed to a writers' community nearer to you:

Durham Region
(Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Port Perry, Uxbridge, Beaverton)

York Region
(Richmond Hill, Aurora, Newmarket, King, Vaughan, Whitchurch-Stouffville, East Gwillimbury, Georgina Townships)

Mississauga/Etobicoke WEN

(Minden, Haliburton, Carnarvon, Dorset, West Guilford, Oxtongue Lake)