In Memory: Budge Wilson (1927-2021)

“Budge has been a pioneer – paving the way for the vibrant Canadian children’s book industry we have today.  Budge helped put Canadian children’s writing on the world stage – contributing 34 titles with 30 foreign editions in 15 languages.”

—Carol Macdougal, author and early literacy advocate


Budge Marjorie (nee Archibald) Wilson was born in 1927 to Mr. Justice Maynard Brown and Helen MacGregor Archibald in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was educated in Halifax, graduated from Dalhousie University (B.A., Philosophy & Psychology) in 1949, completed a Diploma in Education in 1953; a Phys. Ed. certificate; and undertook graduate studies in English at the University of Toronto from 1949-1951. At Dalhousie Budge met fellow student Alan Wilson; they married in 1953 and had two daughters: Glynis Marie and Andrea Kathryn. For 33 years the couple resided in Peterborough, Ontario, where Alan was a professor at Trent University. When he retired in 1989 the Wilsons returned to Nova Scotia’s South Shore where they continue to reside.

Budge Wilson has had a multifaceted career. Although best known as a Nova Scotian children’s author, she has been a teacher, illustrator, photographer, and fitness instructor. From 1951 to 1952 she taught English and art at the Halifax Ladies’ College (now Armbrae Academy), from 1953 to 1957 she worked at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Child Study doing filing, then editing and art work. She also worked at the Toronto Public Library in 1954, and at the Acadia University nursery school from 1956 to 1957 in Wolfville, N.S. In 1968 she returned to teaching with the Peterborough County Board of Education and Young Women’s Association, in Peterborough Ontario, as a fitness instructor; a position she held until 1987.

Wilson began writing full time in 1978 and published her first book in 1984 when she was 56. Since then she has published 30 books
and novels for readers of all ages which have been sold in 13 countries and translated into 10 languages. Her most recent book is Before Green Gables, which has been turned into an animated series in Japan. Her short stories have also been published in anthologies, Braille, and as audio books. CBC Radio and Television have aired readings and dramatizations of her works, as well as author profiles. She has also given readings, talks, and workshops in libraries, schools, and universities throughout Canada.

Wilson’s work has received much acclaim. The Leaving was featured on the American Library Association’s 1994 list of “The 75 best children’s books of the last 25 years. In 2004 she was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was awarded the Distinguished
Alumnae Award from Halifax’s Armbrae Academy; in 2003 she was awarded the Municipality of Halifax Mayor’s Award for Cultural Achievement in Literature; she has also earned First Prize, CBC Literary Competition; 19 Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice” awards; the City of Dartmouth Book Award; the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Award; the Marianna Dempster Award; the Ann Connor Brimer Award; the Lilla Stirling Award; and she was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, Canada-Caribbean Region, for The Leaving. Wilson received the Dalhousie University Alumni Achievement Award in 2008. She received an honourary degree (L.L.D) from Dalhousie University in 2010 and Mount Saint Vincent University (D.Hum.L) in 2012. Wilson was made a member of the Order of Nova Scotia in 2011.

Obituary from MemoryNS.