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About Us

The Word On The Street is a non-profit organization that celebrates Canadian reading, writing, and champions literacy primarily through a free, annual outdoor festival. Each September, in communities from coast to coast, we invite everyone to participate in hundreds of author events, presentations and workshops, and to browse a marketplace that boasts the best selection of Canadian books and magazines you’ll find anywhere. And it’s free! The Lethbridge Public Library has been a proud member of The Word on the Street since 2011.

Festival History

A National Tradition



  • The inaugural festival, launched in International Literacy Year, takes place on Sunday, September 30, 1990 on Queen Street West in Toronto.



  • The Word On The Street Canada Inc. is incorporated nationally and registered as a charitable organization.



  • Halifax establishes a regional festival.



  • Kitchener launched its first festival.



  • Saskatoon and Lethbridge officially launch The Word On The Street regionally.
  • Lethbridge’s first festival has 1800 in attendance, with 32 authors.
  • Highlights include author Angie Abdou, performance poet Sherri D., mystery author Gail Bowen, children’s and teen author Sigmund Brouwer, gardening guru Jim Hole, and Inuit author and storyteller Michael Kusugak.



  • The second annual festival is held in Lethbridge, with 3100 in attendance and 36 authors.
  • Highlights include Edmonton author Thomas Wharton, horticulturalist and gardening author Donna Balzer, award-winning children’s author Kit Pearson, and local teen author Amy Bright.
  • Nationally, almost 270,000 visitors attend one of six festivals, attending 440 programmed events featuring 650 authors, workshop presenters and arts performers. 590 book and magazine exhibitors were showcased.
  • The Word On The Street receives a national nomination for the Canadian Event Industry Award’s “Best Festival” Star Award.



  • The 3rd annual festival is held in Lethbridge on September 22, 2013, with 4,000 in attendance.
  • 22 authors, seven music groups and 41 exhibitors took part in the festival.
  • Highlights include award winning authors Marina Endicott and Cassie Jean Stocks, and children’s author Robert Heidbreder.
  • A screenwriting workshop, pre-event meet up for book clubs, and a songwriter’s circle with local musician Karen Romanchuck were added to the festival lineup.



  • Approximately 4000 people in attendance, with projections of over 4800 for 2015.
  • The 2nd year of three different writing workshops, with great feedback. This year’s workshops were on publishing, and cartooning for kids and adults.
  • Highlights include CBC radio personalities Lyndon Penner and Julie Van Rosendaal, Calgary poet laureate Derek Beaulieu, award-winning teen author Erin Bow, and children’s author and illustrator Ruth Ohi.
  • Sponsorship from over 25 businesses and organizations, both locally and nationally.



  • 3,004 people in attendance, 58 vendors, 39 program blocks, 33 authors and poets, 24°C (with 50 km/h winds), 7 event venues, 6 bands, 3 panel discussions, 2 workshops… and a partridge in a pear tree/comics jam in the Library…
  • Highlights include fantasy author Kelley Armstrong; author of the Murdoch Mysteries, Maureen Jennings; Her Excellency Sharon Johnston; prairie favourite Mary-Ann Kirkby with Secrets of Hutterite Kitchen; knitting blogger Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and award-winning author Kim Thúy.
  • Festival attendees enjoyed cartooning and zinemaking workshops, facepainting and storytime, a joint presentation by a mystery writer and a police officer, and live music from Trevor Panzac, Zojo Black, Tyra Whitson, and Hibikiya.



  • For the first time, Lethbridge festival day was on a Saturday!
  • 15 degrees Celsius and a mix of sun and cloud, and our total attendance was 4,815, up 31% from 2015!
  • 58 vendors – and 9 food vendors compared to last year’s 6
  • Highlights included children’s author Linda Bailey, teen fantasy author Erin Bow, Canada Reads nominee Tracey Lindberg, comics artist and author Ryan North, picture book author and artist Jeremy Tankard, and cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal.
  • Blogging and podcasting panels, songwriting, poetry and bookmaking workshops, Blackfoot storytelling, Metis jigging, facepainting, and a visit from Clifford the Big Red Dog.
  • Free Library memberships on Festival day: 191 new memberships and 181 renewals across all branches, up 10% from last year