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Athabasca University

Roch Carrier

Roch Carrier is a novelist, playwright, and children’s writer who is one of Canada’s most widely read and best-loved authors. A quote from Carrier’s Canadian classic, The Hockey Sweater, can be found on the back of Canada’s five-dollar bill:

Les hivers de mon enfance étaient des saisons longues, longues. Nous vivions en trois lieux: l’école, l’église et la patinoire; mais la vraie vie était sur la patinoire.

The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places — the school, the church and the skating rink — but our life was on the skating rink.

Roch Carrier is a Canadian icon. His work is characterized by humour, nostalgia, and often sentimental portrayals of Quebec rural life. Carrier’s publication history began in the late fifties and the sixties. His earliest publications are poems and short stories. His 1964 collection of stories, Jolis deuils, was awarded that year’s Prix de la Province du Quebec. Carrier’s first novel, La guerre, yes sir! (1968) remains his best-known and most widely studied literary work. Set during the Conscription Crises of WWII, the post-colonial novel contrasts a warm and wholesome village life in Quebec with the loathsome and violent influence of "Les Anglais." In 1992 Carrier’s Prières d’un enfant très très sage won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.

In 1937 Carrier was born in the small Quebec village of Sainte-Justine-de Dorchester, a locale much romanticized in his writing. He studied at the Université de Montréal and completed a doctorate in Paris at the Sorbonne. He has been a teacher, scholar and very successful lecturer. In 1982 he gave a series of lectures on Quebec literature. Between 1994 and 1997 he occupied the position of director of the Canada Council of the Arts. From 1999 to 2004 he served as the National Librarian of Canada.

Much of Carrier’s work has been translated into English by Sheila Fischman. Many of his children’s books have been illustrated by frequent collaborator Sheldon Cohen. Carrier work is youth-centric and much of it is either created for young readers or narrated from the point of view of a young person. Prières d’un enfant très très sage / Prayers of a Very Wise Child (1988), for example, is not written explicitly for children but is narrated by a seven-year-old boy. It is a funny, tender, and poignant reminiscence of childhood. Nationalism and conflict between French and English Canadians are common themes in Carrier’s oeuvre. He is a strong Federalist and a tireless supporter of a Canadian literature and of strengthening Canada’s literary identity.

Carrier is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is also the holder of many honorary doctorates. Carrier is married, has two daughters, and currently lives in Montreal. (Marlene Wurfel)

Updated February 12 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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