Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

The Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People is awarded annually to reward excellence in the writing of an outstanding work of historical fiction for young readers, by a Canadian author, published in the previous calendar year. In 2008, the value of the prize was increased from $1,000 to $5,000. The award winner is decided by a jury selected by the Canadian Children's Book Centre. All books written by Canadian citizens or landed immigrants are eligible for consideration. The first Geoffrey Bilson Award in 1988 was presented to Carol Matas for her book Lisa.

About Geoffrey Bilson

Born on January 27, 1938, Geoffrey Bilson was an avid reader from an early age, and began to write while quite young. His published historical novels for children include Death Over Montreal and Goodbye Sarah. He also published several books for adults. Before his sudden death in 1987, Geoffrey Bilson taught as a professor of history at the University of Saskatchewan. The Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People was created in his honour in 1988. Previous Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People Winners and Finalists


Eligibility Requirements:

  • Books must be published between January 1 and December 31, 2015.
  • Both the author and illustrator (if applicable) must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada (who have lived in Canada for at least two years).
  • Books may be published in Canada or abroad.
  • Books must be first foreign or first Canadian editions. New editions or re-issues of previously published titles are not eligible for submission.
  • Books must be in English.
  • Translations are eligible, provided the translator is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada (who has lived in Canada for at least two years).
  • Books should be written for young people up to age 18. Adult books are not eligible.
  • Books submitted for consideration must be original works.
  • Books submitted must be a work of historical fiction.
  • Graphic novels are eligible.
  • Autobiographies are not eligible.
  • Picture books, short story collections by more than one author, and plots involving time travel are not eligible.
  • The award is only for books in the printed format, as distinct from digital (i.e., eBooks) and audio visual formats.
  • Books in manuscript form are not eligible.
  • All books must have an ISBN and be distributed in Canada.
  • Self-published books are eligible for submission provided they have a valid ISBN.


In identifying the best historical novel of the year, each jury member shall consider the following:
  • Historical setting and accuracy
  • Strong character and plot development
  • Well-told, original story
  • Suitability of book for its intended age group

Submission Information:

The deadline for submitting to the 2016 award (for books published in 2015) was December 18, 2015. We are no longer accepting submissions at this time.


Administered By



Contact Us
Meghan Howe
Canadian Children's Book Centre
Suite 217, 40 Orchard View Blvd.
Toronto, ON M4R 1B9
Tel: 416-975-0010 ext. 222
Fax: 416-975-8970


Awards Recipients

Year Detail Recipient
2015 Marsha Skrypuch, Dance of the Banished. Toronto: Pajama Press, 2014.
2014 Karen Bass, Graffiti Knight. Toronto: Pajama Press, 2013.
2013 Elizabeth Stewart, The Lynching of Louie Sam. Toronto: Annick Press, 2012.
2012 Kate Cayley, The Hangman in the Mirror. Toronto: Annick Press, 2011.
2011 Valerie Sherrard, The Glory Wind. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010.
2010 Shane Peacock, Vanishing Girl: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His Third Case. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2009.
2009 John Ibbitson, The Landing. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2008.
2008 Christopher Paul Curtis, Elijah of Buxton. Toronto: Scholastic Canada, 2007.
2007 Eva Wiseman, Kanada. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2006.
2006 Pamela Porter, The Crazy Man. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2005.
2005 Michel Noël, Good for Nothing. Translated by Shelley Tanaka. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2004.
2004 Brian Doyle, Boy O’Boy. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2003.
2003 Joan Clark, The Word for Home. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada, 2002.
2002 Virginia Frances Schwartz, If I Just Had Two Wings. Toronto: Stoddart Kids, 2001.
2001 Sharon McKay, Charlie Wilcox. Toronto: Stoddart Kids, 2000.
1999 Iain Lawrence, The Wreckers. New York: Delacorte Press,1998.
1998 Irene N. Watts, Good-bye Marianne. Toronto: Tundra Books, 1998.
1997 Janet McNaughton, To Dance at the Palais Royale. St. John’s: Tuckamore Books, 1996.
1996 Marianne Brandis, Rebellion: A Novel of Upper Canada. Erin, ON: The Porcupine’s Quill, 1996.
1995 Joan Clark, The Dream Carvers. Toronto: Viking, 1995.
1994 Kit Pearson, The Lights Go On Again. Toronto: Viking, 1993.
1993 Celia Barker Lottridge, Ticket to Curlew. Illustrated by Wendy Wolsak-Frith. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1992
1991 Marianne Brandis, The Sign of the Scales. Erin, ON: The Porcupine's Quill, 1990.
1990 Kit Pearson, The Sky is Falling. Markham, ON: Viking Kestrel, 1989.
1989 Martyn Godfrey, Mystery in the Frozen Lands. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 1988.
1989 Dorothy Perkyns, Rachel's Revolution. Hantsport, NS: Lancelot Press, 1988.
1988 Carol Matas, Lisa. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1987.