May 26, 2022
For Immediate Release
BRANTFORD – A panel made up of academics and award-winning authors selected a short story titled Eight, Ten, Twelve by Cavelle Sproule as the winner of the third biennial Laurier Stedman Prize.
Results of this creative writing competition, hosted every other year by the English program at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus, were announced at a virtual ceremony on May 26. Sproule, a student at Pauline Johnson Collegiate and Vocational School, receives a $3,000 cash prize, one of the largest of its kind for a creative fiction competition open exclusively to high school students.
“It’s wonderful to see how accomplished the young writers are who enter this competition, and we are grateful to be able to help encourage them to further develop their talent,” said Ken Paradis, associate professor of English at Laurier’s Brantford campus and coordinator of the Laurier Stedman Prize. “Thank you to the teachers at each school who do such a great job of preparing their students. Their work and dedication really show through in the quality of the entries that we receive.”
First awarded in 2018, the Laurier Stedman Prize is funded through an endowment and estate gift given to Wilfrid Laurier University by the late Miss Mary Stedman for the purpose of celebrating and promoting arts and culture. Stedman, who passed away in 2014, was a great champion of Laurier’s Brantford campus, and during her lifetime served as an executive member of the Canadian Booksellers Association.
The university created the Laurier Stedman Prize program, managed under the auspices of the English program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts, as a way to honour Stedman’s wishes. Participants were asked to submit original, unpublished works of fiction, up to 1,500 words in length. The competition was open to students studying within the boundaries of Brantford’s local school boards. It drew 51 entries from nearly every secondary school in the Grand Erie and Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District school boards, as well as the Six Nations Polytechnic STEAM Academy, and W. Ross Macdonald School.
“The Laurier Stedman Prize is such a wonderful way to celebrate our young storytellers,” said Heidi Northwood, Senior Executive Officer of the Brantford campus and host for the evening’s event. “We are so grateful for the generosity of the late Miss Mary Stedman and her vision for our community. The endowment she left to Laurier allows us to continue to inspire young authors in our region: to hone their craft as writers, find their voice and tell their stories.”
All entries were submitted anonymously and vetted by a series of sub-juries. The top 10 were then passed on to a prize jury to rank the finalists, and ultimately select the winner. The prize jury was chaired by Ian MacRae, associate professor in the English program at Laurier, and also included: award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Susanna Kearsley; 2020 Laurier Stedman Prize winner Samiha Sanjida; Pushcart Prize nominated writer and 2022 Edna Staebler Writer in Residence Ali Bryan; and Mariam Pirbhai, award-winning author and professor of English and Film Studies at Laurier.
In all, $10,000 in prize money was awarded at the Laurier Stedman Prize celebration. In addition to the $3,000 grand prize, the jury awarded two second-place prizes of $2,000 each and three third-place prizes of $1,000 each. The top 10 submissions as ranked by the prize jury are:
Read the grand-prize winning story and additional information on the Laurier Stedman Prize at wlu.ca/LaurierStedmanPrize.
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Members of the Stedman family were active in the business, social and cultural fabric of Brantford and Brant County for more than a century. Mary Stedman’s father, Samuel W. Stedman, went into business with his brothers in 1904, establishing the first Stedman’s Bookstore on Colborne St. in Brantford. They went on to create a chain of five-and-10 cent department stores with locations across Canada. The Stedman name has become synonymous in Brantford with generosity and community building.
Mary Stedman served as managing director of Stedman's Bookstore Ltd. from 1950 to 1974 and was a member of the executive of the Canadian Booksellers Association. She was also the director and former chair of the bursary committee of the Samuel W. Stedman Foundation.
Mary Stedman was an early supporter of the idea of a university in Brantford, providing an important kick-start as one of the first donors to the fledgling campus in 1999. The university’s bookstore bears the Stedman family name in recognition of their exceptional generosity. Gifts from Mary and the estate of her sister Ruth supported the construction of the university’s Research and Academic Centre. In accordance with Stedman’s wishes, the Brantford campus bookstore is open not only to Laurier students, but to everyone in the community.
Beth Gurney, Director: Strategic Communications and Community Engagement
Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford Campus