Famous Canadian Poets

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Find out more about the greatest Canadian Poets, including Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Gordon Lightfoot, Tablo and John McCrae.
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 1 
Win Butler
(Songwriter, Singer, Composer, Poet, Guitarist)
Win Butler
7
Birthdate: April 14, 1980
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Truckee, California, United States

Win Butler is an American-Canadian multi-instrumentalist, musician, singer, and songwriter. He is credited with co-founding the popular Canadian indie rock band, Arcade Fire. Also a humanitarian, Butler contributed to a charity record named Do They Know It's Hallowe'en as part of a UNICEF benefit project. A multi-talented personality, Win Butler often participates in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.

 2 
Margaret Atwood
(Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic & Environmental Activist)
Margaret Atwood
21
Birthdate: November 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ottawa, Canada

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her works encompass themes, such as religion and myth, climate change, and gender and identity. An award-winning writer, many of Atwood's works have been made into films and television series; her work, The Handmaid's Tale, has had several adaptations. Perhaps, Margaret Atwood's most important contribution is her invention of the LongPen device.

 3 
John McCrae
(Poet and Soldier Best Known as the Author of War Memorial Poem 'In Flanders Fields')
John McCrae
5
Birthdate: November 30, 1872
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Died: January 28, 1918

Best known for his iconic war poems such as In Flanders Fields, Canadian poet John McCrae was also an army physician. He was the first Canadian to serve as a consulting surgeon for the British Army and had earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army.

 4 
Serge Monast
(Journalist)
Serge Monast
6
Birthdate: 1945 AD
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: December 5, 1996

Serge Monast was a Québécois investigative journalist, poet, and essayist. He was also known as a conspiracy theorist. He wrote extensively on the theme of the New World Order in the 1990s and was particularly inspired by the works of fellow conspiracy theorist William Guy Carr. Project Blue Beam (NASA) is one of his most popular works. 

 5 
Northrop Frye
(Literary theorist and philosopher who was best remembered for being one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century.)
Northrop Frye
4
Birthdate: July 14, 1912
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sherbrooke, Canada
Died: January 23, 1991

Considered one of the most important literary theorists of the century, Herman Northrop Fry gained international fame with his first book, Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake and later with Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Prolific writer and respected educator, he went on to write many more, concurrently championing Canadian literature and identity, receiving several honors for his contributions.

 6 
Robert W. Service
(Poet & Writer)
Robert W. Service
10
Birthdate: January 16, 1874
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Preston, Lancashire, England
Died: September 11, 1958

Robert W. Service was a British-Canadian poet and writer. Popularly called "the Bard of the Yukon," he wrote some of the most commercially successful poetry of his era. A bank clerk by profession, he often wrote while traveling for work. Besides poetry, he also wrote fiction and non-fiction. He was often compared to English writer and novelist Rudyard Kipling. 

 7 
Leonard Cohen
(One of the Most Accomplished Canadian Folk-Rock Singer-Songwriters of His Generation)
Leonard Cohen
0
Birthdate: September 21, 1934
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Westmount, Canada
Died: November 7, 2016

Leonard Cohen was one of the most popular Canadian celebrities of all time. After starting his career as a poet and novelist, Leonard went on to become a famous singer-songwriter, exploring themes like sexuality, religion, depression, and romantic relationships in his work. Leonard Cohen was one of the inspirations for Steven Clark and Matthew Bissonnette's 2002 film Looking for Leonard.

 8 
Anne Carson
(Linguist, Poet, Translator, Writer, University teacher, Literary critic)
Anne Carson
3
Birthdate: June 21, 1950
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Toronto

Born to a banker in Toronto, Anne Carson grew up to study Classics and later taught at institutes such as Princeton University. Her signature style consists of a mix of prose and poetry. One of her notable works, Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, was inspired by Greek mythology.

 9 
Michael Ondaatje
(Canada's Most Renowned Living Authors)
Michael Ondaatje
0
Birthdate: September 12, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, writer, and filmmaker. Born in Sri Lanka, he eventually migrated to Canada. He studied at Bishop's University and embarked on a teaching career. His literary works include poems, novels, and essays. He is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards, including the Giller Prize and the Booker Prize. 

 10 
Rupi Kaur
(Canadian Poet, Illustrator, Photographer, and Author)
Rupi Kaur
14
Birthdate: October 4, 1992
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Punjab, India

Rupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, photographer, illustrator, and author. Born in India, she moved to Canada at an early age. She began performing in 2009 and gained international fame through her Instagram posts. She often explores her South Asian identity and femininity in her work. Her latest poetry collection, Home Body, released in 2020, was a resounding success. 

 11 
Elisabeth Brooks
(Actress, Singer)
Elisabeth Brooks
0
Birthdate: July 2, 1951
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died: September 7, 1997
Shane Koyczan
4
Birthdate: May 22, 1976
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Yellowknife

Shane Koyczan is a Canadian spoken word poet and writer. He is a member of the group, Tons of Fun University, and often writes on topics like bullying, eating disorders, and death. He won the individual championship title at the beach National Poetry Slam in 2000, becoming the first Canadian to do so. He identifies himself as an 'okay atheist.' 

 13 
Susanna Moodie
(British-Born Canadian Author Who Wrote About Her Experiences as a Settler in Canada)
Susanna Moodie
3
Birthdate: December 6, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bungay, England
Died: April 8, 1885

English-Canadian writer Susanna Moodie is best known for her realistic depictions of her life in “the bush” or the wilderness of Canada, which was a British colony back in her time. Her most popular work remains Roughing it in the Bush. She had initially also penned several children’s stories.

 14 
Carol Shields
(Novelist)
Carol Shields
3
Birthdate: June 2, 1935
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oak Park, Illinois, United States
Died: July 16, 2003
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Canadian novelist Carol Shields was known for capturing and highlighting domesticity in her writings. Most of her writings centred around the lives of women, the genesis of art, notions of gender, etc. Her seventh novel, The Stone Diaries, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction (1995), and was shortlisted for a Booker Prize.
 15 
Charles de Lint
(Novelist, Writer, Poet, Musician)
Charles de Lint
3
Birthdate: December 22, 1951
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bussum

Charles de Lint is a Canadian writer who primarily writes fantasy fiction in the subgenres of urban fantasy,  mythic fiction, and contemporary magical realism. He is considered one of the pioneers of the genre of urban fantasy. His most popular works include Widdershins and The Blue Girl. He is married to  MaryAnn Harris, who is also his business manager. 

 16 
Thomas D'Arcy McGee
(Former Member of the Canadian Parliament for Montreal West (1867 - 1868))
Thomas D'Arcy McGee
5
Birthdate: April 13, 1825
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Carlingford, Ireland
Died: April 7, 1868

Thomas D'Arcy McGee was an Irish-Canadian politician, Catholic spokesman, journalist, and poet. As a young man, he opposed British rule in Ireland and was in favor of creating an independent Irish Republic. He later became conservative in his beliefs and moved to Canada. He helped create the Canadian Confederation in 1867 but was assassinated the following year.  

 17 
Lisa Robertson
(Canadian Poet, Essayist and Translator)
Lisa Robertson
3
Birthdate: July 22, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

Lisa Robertson is a Canadian poet, freelance writer, and teacher. She studied at Simon Fraser University and once ran an independent bookstore. She explores different literary forms in her work. Her book of poetry, Debbie: An Epic (1997), was nominated for a Governor General’s Award. She has taught at the California College of Art and the University of Cambridge.

 18 
Irving Layton
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1912
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Targu Neamt, Romania
Died: January 4, 2006
The Romanian-born Canadian poet Irving Layton did not start writing poems formally until he reached his 30s. He was a talented lyricist he considered himself a "romantic with a sense of irony." Known for his honest, outspoken, flamboyant and frank writing, Layton was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982 and 1983.
 19 
Duncan Campbell Scott
(Poet, Writer, Civil servant)
Duncan Campbell Scott
3
Birthdate: August 2, 1862
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ottawa
Died: December 19, 1947

Duncan Campbell Scott was a Canadian writer, poet, and civil servant. He is regarded as one of Canada's Confederation Poets. As a civil servant, he served as deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs. In this position, he supported the implementation of racist policies toward Canada's First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.  

 20 
Émile Nelligan
3
Birthdate: December 24, 1879
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: November 18, 1941
Émile Nelligan was French-Canada’s one of the most beloved and admired poets. A hugely talented poet, Nelligan's literary career was short-lived as he was sent to mental asylum aged 20. He took French-Canadian poetry into the modern age and poetry inspired several music composers. His poems have become the subject of numerous films, novels, and a ballet and an opera. 
 21 
Al Purdy
3
Birthdate: December 30, 1918
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Quinte West
Died: April 21, 2000
One of Canada's most beloved poets, Al Purdy, in his own words, wrote a lot of bad poetry in his initial forty years of life. He is said to have learned the craft of poetry through practice and experimentation. Purdy was honored with the Governor-General's Award for The Cariboo Hunters (1965) and later for the Collected Poems.
 22 
Félix Leclerc
(Singer-songwriter)
Félix Leclerc
3
Birthdate: August 2, 1914
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: La Tuque, Québec, Canada
Died: August 8, 1988

Félix Leclerc was a French-Canadian singer-songwriter and writer. Growing up during the Great Depression, he held a series of odd jobs before becoming a radio announcer in Québec City and Trois-Rivières. With time, he built a successful career as a singer and writer. In 1986, he was made a Chevalier of the French Légion d'honneur. 

 23 
Heather O'Neill
(Novelist, Poet)
Heather O'Neill
0
Birthdate: October 4, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
 24 
George Woodcock
(Writer, Literary critic, Poet, Historian, Biographer, Anarchist)
George Woodcock
2
Birthdate: May 8, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Winnipeg
Died: January 28, 1995

George Woodcock was a Canadian writer, philosopher, literary critic, essayist, and thinker. As the founding editor of Canadian Literature, the first academic journal dedicated to Canadian writing, Woodcock played a major role in the success of the journal. The recipient of many awards like the Molson Prize, Woodcock's life and career inspired the documentary, George Woodcock: Anarchist of Cherry Street.

 25 
Dionne Brand
(Poet, Novelist)
Dionne Brand
0
Birthdate: January 7, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Guayaguayare, Trinidad and Tobago
 26 
Alden Nowlan
(Novelist)
Alden Nowlan
2
Birthdate: January 25, 1933
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Stanley, Nova Scotia
Died: June 27, 1983

Alden Nowlan was a Canadian novelist, poet, and playwright. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most popular Canadian poets, Nowlan served as the University of New Brunswick's writer-in-residence in Fredericton. He was also the recipient of several prestigious awards, such as the Governor General's Award, which he won for his collection Bread, Wine and Salt.

 27 
Bliss Carman
2
Birthdate: April 15, 1861
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Fredericton
Died: June 8, 1929

Bliss Carman was a Canadian poet whose works earned him international recognition. His poem, Autumn ,inspired Leo Sowerby to write Comes Autumn Time, which became his best-known organ piece. Throughout his illustrious career, Carman was honored with many prestigious awards like the Royal Society of Canada's Lorne Pierce Gold Medal. During his later years, Carman served as Canada's poet laureate.

 28 
E. J. Pratt
2
Birthdate: February 4, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Newfoundland Colony, Canada
Died: April 26, 1964

E. J. Pratt was a Canadian poet who won the Governor General's Award, Canada's top poetry prize, on three occasions. Regarded as the most important Canadian poet of his generation, Pratt is also considered the leading Canadian poet of the first half of the 20th century. During his career, he also won other prestigious awards like the Canada Council Medal.

 29 
Marie-Claire Blais
(Canadian Writer, Novelist, Poet, and Playwright)
Marie-Claire Blais
2
Birthdate: October 5, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Quebec, Canada
Died: November 30, 2021

Marie-Claire Blais is a French Canadian writer, poet, and playwright. Born into a blue-collar family, she was unable to pursue full-time education. However, she did attend a few classes at Université Laval and began her literary career at the age of 20. She eventually became a successful author with numerous novels, plays, and poetry collections to her name. 

 30 
Anne Michaels
(Canadian Poet Known for the Beauty and Precision of Her Language and the Depth of Her Philosophical Themes)
Anne Michaels
2
Birthdate: April 15, 1958
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

Anne Michaels is a Canadian novelist and poet whose works have been published in over 45 countries. Her novels, such as Fugitive Pieces, have also been adapted into films. Michaels, who served as the poet laureate of Toronto from 2016 to 2019, has received several awards like the Orange Prize, the Lannan Award for Fiction, and the Guardian Fiction Prize.

 31 
Joy Kogawa
(Poet, Novelist)
Joy Kogawa
0
Birthdate: June 6, 1935
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
 32 
F. R. Scott
(Canadian Poet)
F. R. Scott
2
Birthdate: August 1, 1899
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Quebec City, Canada
Died: January 30, 1985
F. R. Scott, was a Canadian poet and intellectual whose work spans law, literature, and politics. Canada's top literary prize, the Governor General's Award, was bestowed upon him twice. Scott was part of the Montreal Group of poets and helped shape modernist poetry in Canada. Besides poetry, he was known for his political activism, and his authority on constitutional law.
Billene Seyoum Woldeyes
2
Birthdate: 1982 AD
Birthplace: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
 34 
Charles G. D. Roberts
(Canadian Poet Who was One of the First Canadian Authors to be Internationally Known)
Charles G. D. Roberts
2
Birthdate: January 10, 1860
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Douglas, New Brunswick, Canada
Died: November 26, 1943
Known as the Father of Canadian Poetry, Charles George Douglas Roberts was a remarkable poet and prose writer. Besides poetry, he published various works on natural history, travel, verse, and fiction. He served as an inspiration for various Canadian poets of his time, including his cousin Bliss Carman, Duncan Campbell Scott, and Archibald Lampman.
 35 
Anne Hébert
(Canadian Author and Poet)
Anne Hébert
2
Birthdate: August 1, 1916
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sainte-Catherine de Fossanbault, Canada
Died: January 22, 2000

Anne Hébert was a French Canadian poet and author who won the Governor General's Award, which is regarded as Canada's top literary honor, on three occasions. During her career, she also won other prestigious awards like the Molson Prize and the Ludger-Duvernay Prize. Hébert's works have been translated into many languages, including Spanish, English, and German.

 36 
Susan Musgrave
(Canadian Poet, Novelist, and Children’s Writer)
Susan Musgrave
2
Birthdate: March 12, 1951
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Santa Cruz, California, United States

Susan Musgrave is a Canadian poet and writer of children’s literature. She started writing as a child and published her first work when she was 16. She has authored several collections of poems, fiction, and children’s literature. Besides writing, she teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia. She was married to  Stephen Reid, a writer and convicted criminal. 

 37 
Robert Stanley Weir
(Former judge and poet most famous for writing the English lyrics to "O Canada", the national anthem of Canada.)
Robert Stanley Weir
2
Birthdate: November 15, 1856
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hamilton, Canada
Died: August 20, 1926

Robert Stanley Weir was a Canadian judge and poet. He is best known for writing the English lyrics to the national anthem of Canada, O Canada. He was trained as a teacher and lawyer. Over the course of his successful legal career, he was appointed a municipal court judge. He published several poems in magazines and book collections. 

Archibald Lampman
2

Archibald Lampman was a 19th-century Canadian poet considered to be the most outstanding exponent of the Canadian school of nature poets. He is often referred to as the “Canadian Keats” and classified as one of Canada's Confederation Poets. He was a quiet and dignified person with high ideals. He passed away at the age of just 37. 

 39 
Earle Birney
(Canadian Novelist and Poet)
Earle Birney
2
Birthdate: May 13, 1904
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Calgary, Canada
Died: September 3, 1995

Earle Birney was a Canadian novelist and poet. He is best remembered for winning the prestigious Governor General's Award on two occasions. In 1953, he was also honored with the Lorne Pierce Medal for his immense contribution to Canadian literature and poetry.

 40 
Annie Louisa Walker
2

Annie Louisa Walker was an English and Canadian teacher and author. Born in England, she moved to Canada as a young girl. She ran a school with her sisters and also embarked on a literary career. With the help of her second cousin, prominent writer Margaret Oliphant, she was able to build a successful career as a novelist. 

 41 
Charles Fenerty
(Inventor)
Charles Fenerty
2
Birthdate: 1821
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Upper Sackville, Canada
Died: June 10, 1892

Charles Fenerty was a 19th-century Canadian inventor and poet. He is best remembered for inventing the wood pulp process for paper-making. His invention did not receive much attention in his lifetime and he never took out a patent on it. He was well known as a poet and published numerous poems. He was an extensive traveler as well. 

 42 
John Malcolm Brinnin
(American Poet)
John Malcolm Brinnin
1
Birthdate: September 13, 1916
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Halifax, Canada
Died: June 26, 1998

American poet, biographer and critic, John Malcolm Brinnin published his first collection of poems in the same year he graduated from the University of Harvard , thereafter, continuing to publish five more volumes of poems, biographies and travelogues. However, he is better known as the man who brought Dylan Thomas to America, guiding him on his speaking tour throughout USA.  

 43 
James Reaney
(Canadian Poet and Playwright Whose Works Transform Ontario Small-Town Life Into the Realm of Dream and Symbol)
James Reaney
2
Birthdate: September 1, 1926
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Stratford, Canada
Died: June 11, 2008

James Reaney was a Canadian poet, playwright, and professor. He developed an early love for literature and theater and studied English at University College, University of Toronto. He pursued an academic career while also focusing on his writing. He was the recipient of Canada's highest literary award, the Governor General's Award, thrice. He also enjoyed drawing and painting. 

 44 
Gaston Miron
(Canadian Poet)
Gaston Miron
1
Birthdate: January 8, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Canada
Died: December 14, 1996

A renowned French-Canadian essayist and poet, Gaston Miron was known for his numerous interpretive works, the most celebrated collection of his poems being L’Homme rapaillé. Also the editor of Quebec's Quiet Revolution, he was committed to the establishment of an independent French-speaking country in North America and is hailed as the most important literary figure of Quebec's nationalist movement.

 45 
A.M. Klein
(Canadian Poet, Novelist and Short Story Writer)
A.M. Klein
3
Birthdate: February 14, 1909
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ratne, Ukraine
Died: February 20, 1972

A.M. Klein was a Canadian lawyer turned poet, journalist, novelist, and short-story writer. He studied law at the Université de Montréal and embarked on a legal career. He eventually turned his focus to writing and published several pieces of fiction and numerous volumes of poetry. He was honored with the Governor General's Award in poetry. 

 46 
Louis Dudek
(Canadian Poet Known for His Role in Defining Modernism in Poetry)
Louis Dudek
1
Birthdate: February 6, 1918
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: March 23, 2001

Louis Dudek was a Canadian poet, publisher, and academic who played a major role in defining Modernism in poetry. Dudek is also remembered for his literary criticism. He also played a key role as a theoretician and teacher, influencing the way Canadian poetry is taught in most Canadian universities and schools.

William Wilfred Campbell
2
Birthdate: June 1, 1860
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Newmarket, Canada
Died: January 1, 1918

A versatile writer and poet, William Wilfred Campbell began writing poems while in college, continuing to do so while serving as Episcopal priest, publishing his first two books of poems during this period. Later, he gave up his post due to a crisis of faith and continued with his writing, regularly publishing volumes of verses, verse dramas, fictions and non-fictions.

 48 
Matt Cohen
(Writer)
Matt Cohen
1
Birthdate: December 30, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kingston, Canada
Died: December 2, 1999

Matt Cohen was a Canadian writer whose novel, Elizabeth and After, earned him the Governor General's Award under the English-language Fiction category in 1999. Cohen is credited with co-founding the Writers' Union of Canada, where he served as the president in 1986. Under his presidency, the union was able to persuade the government to establish a Public Lending Right program.

 49 
Dorothy Livesay
1
Birthdate: October 12, 1909
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Canada
Died: December 29, 1996

Dorothy Livesay was a Canadian poet whose works earned her the prestigious Governor General's Award on two occasions. During the 1970s and 1980s, she was referred to as the senior woman writer in Canada, an honorable status in Canada. During her career, Livesay won several awards, including the Lorne Pierce Medal, the Queen's Canada Medal, and the Persons Case Award.

 50 
A.J.M. Smith
(Canadian Poet and Anthologist)
A.J.M. Smith
1
Birthdate: November 8, 1902
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: November 21, 1980

A.J.M. Smith was a Canadian anthologist and poet. Smith was an important member of a group called the Montreal Group, which played a key role in popularizing modernism at a time when Victorianism was prevalent. In 1943, he won the prestigious Governor General's Award under the English-language poetry or drama category. In 1966, he won the Lorne Pierce Medal.