Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair
Photo Credit: Baico Publshing
Villeneuve-Sinclair is passionate about
life, the people she encounters and their relationships. Now retired
after thirty–two years of teaching in Ottawa, her eclectic
interests varies from writing and painting, to psychology,
spirituality, esoterism and the paranormal, to horticulture and bird
issues and mental health have always been of
interest also as she has spoken to women’s groups since 1990.
of the Ottawa Independent Writers, she is proud to present her
prize-winning novel, first written and published in French. A study in
relationships, some abusive, some destructive, a story of courage,
self-discovery, acceptance and forgiveness.
dedicated to all women who still suffer silently, to those who had the
courage to leave a destructive relationship, regain their freedom and
start anew. Also dedicated to men and women who are entering a loving
relationship, it is an invitation to love and know ourselves as this is
the first step to better love the other.
Margaret Graham (1870-1924)
"Miggsy" Graham was born at Upper Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia. At age 16
she attended Normal School at Truro, Nova Scotia.
She taught school for a few years and
during that time advocated for women teachers through the provincial
Teachers' Association. In 1893 Graham moved to Trinidad as a missionary
but was unable to complete her term there because of a horseback riding
After returning home to convalesce she visited her journalist
brother in New York. By 1897 she had become a journalist at the Halifax
Herald. Seven years later she was in Ottawa as a correspondent for the
Herald, covering Ottawa society.
While working briefly in Montreal for the Montreal Star in 1904, Graham
was the inspiration behind the Canadian Pacific Railway's giving 16
women journalists the same free passage it offered male journalists to
travel to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, commonly called the St.
Louis World Fair. During that trip the women founded the Canadian
Women's Press Club.
In 1905 Graham married Albert Horton, a
well-known editor of Hansard and they lived in Ottawa until her death
at Montreal in 1924. The awards in her name were funded originally by
their daughter, Mrs. Lois Grant
Margaret Graham awards are presented annually by the Media Club of
Ottawa (MCO) to honour the memory of Margaret
“Miggsy” Graham, a pioneer woman journalist who played a
leading role in the formation of the Canadian Women’s Press Club
The first award was presented in 1976 for the best feature
story written by a male or female reporter with less than three
years’ experience, who was employed by an Ottawa-area daily
or weekly newspaper. That year a framed certificate and $150 went
to Linda Florence for a story she wrote for the Kingston News. Formally
established in 1977, the award was initially given to a journalism
student at Carleton University then broadened to include an Algonquin
College journalism student and an Ottawa University communications
student. It recognizes both academic success and overall excellence.
Student winners are selected by the schools.
Photo by Robert Craig
Algonquin College Award winner Iliyana Shoushounova
and author Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair
Photo by Robert Craig
Carleton University Award winner Connor Oke and Media Club Treasurer Iris ten Holder
Shoushounova was homeschooled her whole life and decided to complete
her high school a year early so she could pursue her love of writing as
a journalist at Algonquin College. When she's not writing she enjoys
spending her time painting or exploring Ottawa with her friends.
Connor Oke, a fourth year journalism student at
Carleton University, originally from Bowmanville, Ontario, decided to
enter journalism out of a love of storytelling and current affairs.
Through Carleton, he was able to report for Farm Radio International in
Ghana in the summer of 2018. He has also completed a short-term
internship with the Canadian Museums Association and CPAC. After he
graduates he hopes to write long-form stories for magazines or
work in television.
Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair
A love of teaching
By Cynthia Cee
was raised on a farm in Cumberland where she helped her dad in the
fields. As a child, she loved nature and was a tomboy.
Public school was a one room schoolhouse where she was called upon as
the older student, to teach the younger students. This started
her love of teaching.
her free time, Alberte read books. She read all the books in the
schoolroom and when done, read all the books in the back room of the
schoolhouse. When she graduated from grade school she won all the
school prizes at Le Concours and was awarded a book – The Diary
of Anne Frank. This inspired her to start keeping her own diary
and gave her a love of writing.
Alberte married at 19 and had a
daughter. After ten difficult years of marriage she made the
decision to leave and fend for herself; she became a teacher.
During her summers off, to heal from the difficult relationship, she
wrote her story. This became her first novel: Le jardin
encouraged her daughter to write as well, sending both their works in
to a writing contest which they both won. “This gave me
credibility and confidence, since I wasn’t sure if my writing was
very good,” she said.
At 30 Alberte became a widow.
“I had to learn what love was really all about and it
wasn’t about control,” she said. Her story resonated
with many women and she started attending (and speaking) at conferences
dealing with difficult relationships and how to cope. After these
conferences, she ended up staying behind to talk to the women and hear
their stories. After one such a conference, in Sudbury, she was
so popular that they called ahead to her next booking and cancelled it,
so she could stay behind to answer questions.
In the meantime, her first book was so
successful that it was translated into English titled The Neglected
Garden. She was encouraged and next she wrote Une prière
pour Hélène about 2 women friends (one an unwed Catholic
mother) and their transformation.
Alberte joined many organizations and
got involved with the Ottawa Independent Writers (OIW). This gave her
the opportunity to write for their online paper. She was given free
rein to write on any topic of her choice and post her own
pictures. It turned into a once a week assignment. Other papers,
Canaan Connexion, True North Perspective and Perspectives Vanier asked
her to write for them as well.
a few years, Alberte started to collect the articles published in these
papers. On March 24, 2018 she launched Muses from the Blue Shack , a
first compilation of some of her favourite articles. By
this time, Alberte had a grand-daughter and encouraged her to write as
well when at age 6 she wrote with five of her friends
a story on bullying. It was put into book form, published, sold and
translated into English.
Alberte continues to live and write in Cumberland, contributing
to Perspectives Vanier's Seeds for Thought. She started painting after
retirement and didn’t think she could do that either. She took a class
and exhibited her work in a class show. One of the local artists came
and liked her portrait the best..
|About the Media Club
The Media Club of Ottawa, considered to be one of the oldest
writing groups in Canada, had its beginning as the Ottawa Women's Press Club in
1916, which in 1920 became a chapter of the Canadian Women's Press Club
Since 1971. under a new name, the Media Club of
Ottawa officially welcomes men and women members and, although the
focus is still on journalism, also embraces other
Our mandate includes uniting people engaged in communications
and providing a forum to examine issues relating to free and
The Club organizes monthly meetings where writing
professionals speak and answer questions about media related topics,
holds workshops dealing with the same topic and offers four annual awards
to local journalism or communications students.
All writers and those
interested in writing are welcome to attend meetings and become
members. Unless otherwise noted members and guess meet at Ottawa City Hall from
September to June, offering an inviting place to network, share writing
experiences or learn about new aspects of writing.
professional authors, journalists, students, and aspiring writers. It
is considered the oldest continuous press club in the world. Check our website and follow us on Facebook .
(A love of teaching cont'd)
When asked where she gets the
inspiration for her columns Alberte said: “Three days before the
deadline I’ll get an idea for a column and I’ll write it,
but I always wait a day and read it before sending it in.”
She mentioned that she keeps a book of quotes “to insert into
articles when needed. If a quote speaks to me, I add it to the
Alberte’s first books were sold
through Chapters, Indigo and other major publishers. “But
they take 45% of the sales”, she said. “I chose to go
with smaller, independent publishers. Book fairs are also important to
When asked about writer’s
block, Alberte said that when writing her bio, she found it
difficult to move forward. Around that time she went on a trip to
Barbados and decided to integrate the trip into the book to balance out
the seriousness of the content. “So try approaching the piece
from a different angle or add in a new thing”, she
suggests. “Also, believe in luck!” While in
Barbados she met the Ambassador. Back in Canada he came to her
book launch and was so impressed by her portrayal of his country that
he invited her to a free promo tour.
Alberte ended her talk with some good advice:
Talk to everyone;
Believe that you can reach a certain goal;