Memorable Manitobans: Gabrielle Roy (1909-1983)
Born at St. Boniface on 22 March 1909, daughter of Leon Roy and Melina Landry and younger sister of Marie Anna Adele Roy, she attended the Winnipeg Normal School, taught school in rural Manitoba, and travelled to Europe, where she began to write. Her first novel, Bonheur d’Occasion (translated as The Tin Flute), appeared in 1945 and won the Governor General’s Award. She was fluently bilingual and had a deceptively simple style. She wrote about ordinary people and strong women. Her work tended to celebrate the brief moments of joy in otherwise difficult lives.
She wrote a number of collections of short stories set in Manitoba: La Petite Poule d’eau (1950; translated as Where Nests the Water Hen); Rue Deschambault (1955; translated as Street of Riches); La Route d’Altamont (1966; translated as The Road Past Altamont); Un Jardin au bout du monde (1975; translated as Garden in the Wind); and Ces Enfants de ma vie (1977; translated as Children of My Heart). Several books were set in the Arctic and in Quebec. Roy also wrote two children’s books. She won three Governor General’s Awards and the Prix Duvernay. She was married to physician Marcel Carbotte.
She died in Quebec City on 13 July 1983. She was inducted posthumously into the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame (2005) and was selected as a Manitoba Woman Trailblazer (2021). Her childhood home in Winnipeg is now operated as a museum.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Birth registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Germain Roy, noted teacher passes away,” Winnipeg Free Press, 22 May 1961.
“St. Boniface-born author Gabrielle Roy dead at age 74,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 July 1983, page 21.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 14 January 2023