The International Festival of Authors has named businessman, publisher, and philanthropist Avie Bennett the recipient of this year’s $10,000 Harbourfront Festival Prize for his contribution to Canadian publishing.
Bennett purchased Toronto press McClelland & Stewart in 1986, publishing approximately 100 titles a year by renowned authors including Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, and Michael Ondaatje. He also acquired Hurtig Publishers, publisher of The Canadian Encyclopedia, in 1991. In 2000, he donated the majority of the M&S’s shares to the University of Toronto.
Bennett has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, and is also a Companion of the Order of Canada.
The jury who selected him – comprised of Toronto Star books editor Deborah Dundas, As It Happens host Carol Off, and International Festival of Authors director Geoffrey E. Taylor – said in a press release:
Winning this award places Avie Bennett on a list with many authors he has previously published or nurtured. His name is known and respected in many areas of arts and culture well beyond the literary world. The prize is a small way of thanking Mr. Bennett for all he has done for IFOA and the publishing community.
Bennett will be honoured during IFOA on Oct. 26 at Toronto’s Fleck Dance Theatre.