The Eden Mills Writers Festival was founded in 1989 and takes place annually in the charming hamlet of Eden Mills. A Canadian festival
for words, the Eden Mills Writers Festival is a chance for Canadian authors and writers
to join in celebration in the streets during the first Sunday after Labour Day to experience the diversity
of Canadian writing. The festival itself is also the personal vision of Governor General
’s award winner Leon Rooke
who is one of Canada's more fruitful writers. Audiences of several thousand come each year and enjoy the mix of pastoral
surroundings, great literature
and a relaxed ambience.
The first public reading took place in 1989 outside the Eden Mills General Store where Leon launched his latest novel and read passages to an audience of 350. What occurred were the small beginnings where writers old and new could come together as one group all in the name of words. Since then, the festival has grown to take over the entire hamlet offering residents a colourful arrange of talents to share with writers, authors, poets and artists.
2005 marks the festival's 15th celebration, and Leon Rooke's 81st birthday. The festival itself runs on volunteers sitting on the planning board and committees from the general membership of fifty people who donate their time for the life of Canadian writing. The board spends their year working on fundraising, operations, publicity, author selection, entertainment and music to ensure a smooth and exciting afternoon of events. The town of Eden Mills itself is an eclectic collection of people who are dedicated to the continuing success of the festival itself. All of the land used for readings and music are proudly donated by the residents for the afternoon and often help with the days events. Through the work of the residents of the hamlet and the board members, it ensures ticket prices for the event is kept affordable.
Eden Mills itself is a tranquil town located in the western reaches of North Halton, Ontario. It is located off the banks of the Eramosa River, which is indigenous to stunning wild life and fauna native to Southern Ontario. Often during the afternoon readings, crowds are delighted with the sightings of Blue Herons, Deer, and flocks of native Canadian birds. The main readings take place off a platform located by the river surrounded by the enchanting natural forests and nature of the area. Other locations include a popular Aboriginal Area and an established Children’s site, which both run continually throughout the afternoon. Featured are fringe and young adult readings, along with French language readings by French authors, which started last year in 2004. The main street is decorated with the Publisher’s Way, inviting festivalgoers to purchase books, magazines and where producers and non-profit groups such as PEN highlight their talents. Authors come to this area to sign copies of their books.
Besides the books, authors and readings, the festival displays live musical performances between readings. Featured artists from Jazz ensembles from Guelph and the surrounding area add to the eclectic beauty of the day. Refreshments are served by local and universal cuisines and offer people a chance to experience a new flavour in their travels along the festival road.
You come for the words but you stay for the experience. It is a chance for Canadian writers to collect and interact with each other in the beauty of North Halton. Eden Mills Writers Festival may be the vision of one man, Leon Rooke, but his passion for expression resulted in a phenomenal writer experience that will continue for years to come.
Jane Hasting, Publicity Coordinator for Eden Mills Writers Festival
Ann Kornuta, Eden Mills Writers Festival,The Halton Compass Newspaper, August 4th, 2005, Volume 9, Issue 14