Alden Nowlan was born near Windsor, Nova Scotia, on January 25, 1933. He died in Fredericton, NB, on June 27, 1983. He left school early and during his adolescent years worked at a variety of jobs, all of them menial, manual, or both. He was a pulp cutter, a farmhand, a sawmill worker, a night watchman, a ditch digger and a logger.

On March 16, 1952, he arrived in Hartland, New Brunswick, where (on the strength of a letter of reference he had written himself) he obtained a job with The Observer, the local weekly newspaper. During his years as a reporter (and later news editor) with The Observer, he moonlighted as manager of a country-western band, a credit investigator, a poll taker, a broadcaster and (once only) as a boxing promoter. He also wrote for agricultural magazines and served for two years as secretary of the New Brunswick Fish and Game Protective Association.

On August 28, 1963, he joined the staff of the Telegraph-Journal, Saint John, N.B., as a reporter, later becoming, in turn, Provincial Editor and Night News Editor. In 1966, he underwent three major surgical operations.

In 1968, he was appointed writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B. In 1972 he became an Honorary Research Associate in the UNB School of Graduate Studies.

UNB awarded him an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in 1971 and in 1976 he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S.

He has received the following awards:

  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 1967.
  • Governor-General's Award for Poetry, 1967.
  • Canada Council Special Award, 1968.
  • President's Medal of the University of Western Ontario for short fiction, 1970 and again in 1972.
  • Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal, 1978.
  • Canadian Author's Association Silver Medal for Poetry, 1977.
  • Evelyn Richardson Award for Non-fiction, 1979.
  • Nominated ACTRA Award for Non-fiction, 1979.
  • Nominated Magazine Association Gold Medal for Best Travel Article, 1980.
  • a founding member of the Writers' Union of Canada
  • a founding member of the League of Canadian Poets
  • a founding member of the Committee for an Independant Canada
  • served as a member of the Editorial Board of the University of Ottawa Short Stories Series.
  • a member of the jury charged with selecting the winner of the Governor-General's Award for Poetry for three years.
  • member of the Advisory Committee to the New Brunswick Provincial Minister of Youth, Culture and Recreation.

His wife, the former Claudine Orser and one son John survive him.


Photograph Courtesy of Kent Nason
© 2002