Dartmouth Book Awards


Margaret & John Savage

The commitment of Margaret & John Savage to written and spoken word was life-long and significant.

As a public figure, John was quite well known. He was elected to the first Dartmouth School Board in 1978 and, as Chair, was an active champion for literacy. Elected Mayor of Dartmouth in 1985, he initiated the Dartmouth Book and Writing Awards, the only major Book awards in Atlantic Canada. He worked with the Dartmouth Literacy network and brought the Peter Gzowski Invitational (PGI) Tournament for Literacy to Atlantic Canada in 1992, with the tournament’s first poet laureate being the late, great Maxine Tynes. As Premier of Nova Scotia (1993 – 1997), John increased funding for literacy programs in the face of many other budget cuts.

Margaret’s passion for books was less well-known but equally strong. For many years, she worked with the Dartmouth Public Library to deliver books to those who unable to visit libraries in person. For many years, each of her children were involved in the delivery of books and were witness to her commitment, which continued long after her husband became Mayor and then Premier. Margaret was also key in bringing of PGI to Nova Scotia, actively encouraging John to contact Mr. Gzowski. The PGIs continued for decades, being held across Nova Scotia, always involving the learner community, and raising money and awareness for the cause of literacy.

Shortly before both Margaret and John died in 2003, the Margaret & John Savage First Book Award was created in recognition of their dedication to reading and writing. In 2018, this original award was split into two awards, one for fiction titles and one for nonfiction titles.

Prolific readers themselves, Margaret and John instilled in their children a love of reading in its many forms, from the classics to the most lighthearted. It is a gift most appreciated to this day.

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