Ken McGoogan

Ken McGoogan

MFA Mentor, Creative Nonfiction

Ken  McGoogan Ken  McGoogan

B.A.A, Journalism (Ryerson); M.F.A., Creative Writing (UBC)

Ken McGoogan is a globe-trotting Canadian writer who survived shipwreck in the Indian Ocean and placed a John Rae memorial plaque in the High Arctic. He takes a creative nonfiction approach to historical narrative, as you can see in his 2023 book, Searching for Franklin: New Answers to the Great Arctic Mystery. By introducing some CNF razzle-dazzle, he is trying to drag history out of the university, where he sees it dying a slow, painful death. His published books include 11 works of research-based nonfiction (see above), three novels, and two ghostwritten memoirs. He has won numerous awards (see below). Before turning full-time to book-writing, Ken worked across Canada as a journalist, most notably as books editor at the Calgary Herald. Ken has given slideshow presentations in New Orleans, Orkney, Tasmania, Dawson City, Melbourne, and while voyaging in the Northwest Passage with Adventure Canada. He is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Explorers Club, has served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, and writes for such publications as Canadian Geographic, Canada’s History, Celtic Life International, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Star. www.kenmcgoogan.com.

Selected Publications


  • SEARCHING FOR FRANKLIN: New Answers to the Great Arctic Mystery (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2023).
  • FLIGHT OF THE HIGHLANDERS: The Making of Canada (Toronto: Patrick Crean Editions / HarperCollins Canada, 2019).
  • DEAD RECKONING: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage (Toronto: Patrick Crean Editions / HarperCollins Canada, 2017).
  • CELTIC LIGHTNING: How the Scots and the Irish Created a Canadian Nation (Toronto: Patrick Crean Editions / HarperCollins Canada, 2015).
  • 50 CANADIANS WHO CHANGED THE WORLD (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2013).
  • HOW THE SCOTS INVENTED CANADA (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2010)
  • RACE TO THE POLAR SEA: The Heroic Adventures and Romantic Obsessions of Elisha Kent Kane (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada; Berkeley, U.S.: Counterpoint Press, 2008).
  • LADY FRANKLIN’S REVENGE: A True Story of Ambition, Obsession and the Remaking of Arctic History (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, Bantam/Transworld U.K., 2005).
  • ANCIENT MARINER: The Amazing Adventures of Samuel Hearne, the Sailor Who Walked to the Arctic Ocean (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, Bantam/ Transworld U.K., Carroll & Graf U.S., 2003).
  • FATAL PASSAGE: The Untold Story of John Rae, the Arctic Adventurer Who Discovered the Fate of Franklin (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, Bantam/ Transworld/Bantam U.K., Carroll & Graf U.S., 2001) [Turned into an award-winning, feature-length docudrama called PASSAGE / Ken as consultant.]
  • CANADA’S UNDECLARED WAR: Fighting Words from the Literary Trenches Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1991.
  • GOING FOR GOLD, with Catriona Le May Doan Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2002.


  • KEROUAC’S GHOST. Toronto, Bev Editions, 2016. VISIONS OF KEROUAC: Satori Magic Edition. Toronto: Willow Avenue Books, 2008; Nova Scotia: Pottersfield Press, 1993; KEROUAC’S GHOST (Montreal: Robert Davies Publishing, 1996). The novel was published in Quebec and France as LE FANTOME DE KEROUAC, Balzac-Le-Griot, 1998.

Awards and Honours


Pierre Berton Award for Canadian History; University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian Biography; Christopher Award, New York, for “a work of artistic excellence that affirms the highest values of the human spirit”; Writers’ Trust of Canada / Drainie-Taylor Biography Award; Canadian Authors’ Association Award for History; Grant MacEwan Author’s Award; Writers’ Guild of Alberta non-fiction award; Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, Lady Franklin’s Revenge; University of Toronto, Continuing Education, Teaching Excellence; Reader’s Digest: Best Historical Writer; University of Cambridge, Wolfson College Fellowship.


W. Dafoe Book Prize; Keith Matthews Award; B.C. National Book Award for Non-Fiction; Evergreen Award, Ontario Library Association; National Magazine Awards / profiles; Writers’ Guild of Alberta non-fiction award; Banff Book Festival adventure-travel award; W.O. Mitchell / City of Calgary book award.


Moving into Creative Nonfiction from journalism and academe; establishing personal presence as a hallmark of Creative Nonfiction; using point of view to structure a long narrative.