David Helwig

April 5, 1938 – October 16, 2018

David Helwig with dog, 2013

The funeral service for David Gordon Helwig will take place at 2:00pm on Saturday, November 3rd, at St. Stephen-in-the-Fields, 103 Bellevue Ave, Toronto ON; Rev'd Maggie Helwig presiding.

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Obituaries and memorials

Former PEI poet laureate David Helwig dies

Sally Cole, Charlottetown Guardian, October 17, 2018

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Former P.E.I. poet laureate David Helwig is being remembered as a “brilliant man” who made a difference.

The author, editor and member of the Order of Canada died peacefully, surrounded by family, at King’s County Memorial Hospital in Montague this past Tuesday.

He was 80 years old.

P.E.I. author Hugh MacDonald, describes him as a “tremendous friend.”

“David was a wonderful gift for me. He was also a wonderful gift to P.E.I. He was a devoted supporter of the arts in every possible way.”

Whether he was serving on the board of the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra or directing various literary exercises, in his stint as poet laureate, he made “outstanding contributions” wherever he went -- For example, Helwig, along with MacDonald and the late Joe Sherman met regularly at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market.

Their discussions about writing and poetry inspired them to start “Saturday Morning Chapbooks” -- a series of short poetry collections to help young writers on P.E.I. get published.

“We ended up doing three series,” says MacDonald.

He is survived by his wife Judy Gaudet, his daughters Maggie Helwig (Ken Simons) and Kate Helwig (Claude Royer) and their mother, Nancy Helwig, grandchildren Simone Helwig and Émile and Pascal Royer, and step-daughters Mary Gaudet (Lwam Ghebrehariat), Caitlin Gaudet (Dylan Trotter), and Christina Gaudet (Mark White). A reception will be held on Friday Oct. 19, 6-9 p.m.at 55 Hollow Pine Rd. in Brudenell. All are welcome.

The funeral service will be held in Toronto at St Stephen-in-the-Fields Church on Nov. 3.

Helwig was born in Toronto, where he spent his early childhood years. After living in Kingston and Montreal, he moved to Belfast, P.E.I. in 1996, where he settled; becoming very involved in the arts community.

Maggie Helwig describes her father as an inspiration.

“He was a brilliant man, extraordinarily eloquent; the most intelligent person I’ve ever known; complex, concerned, funny and very impatient. He got bored waiting for traffic lights to change,” says Maggie, during a telephone interview.

Helwig saw things that needed to be done and reached out to others.

“He was committed to helping young writers. When he met someone and felt they should be published, he made that happen.”

David Helwig (1938-2018)

Department of English, Queen’s University, Kingston, October 19, 2018

It is with sadness that Queen’s English shares news of the passing of David Helwig, award-winning Canadian writer, recipient of the Order of Canada, and member of the English Department (full time 1962-74, part-time 1976-80). Helwig was a prolific author, publishing 17 volumes of poetry, 25 of fiction, and 4 of non-fiction. Founder of Quarry Press (and an editor for many years at Oberon), Helwig was instrumental in supporting the careers of a number of prominent Canadian writers. In “The Names of Things: A Memoir” (Porcupine Quill 2006) he wrote of his years at Queen’s :

“An age of poets and a place of poets: the senior faculty at Queen’s included two, Douglas LePan who had come to the university after a career in External Affairs, and George Whalley, the department head who hired me. Malcolm Ross, who had moved to Dalhousie before I arrived, was one of the earliest serious editors and critics of Canadian writing. In the next few years the poets of my generation and the next began to turn up, Tom Marshall, Michael Ondaatje, Stuart McKinnon, Douglas Barbour, Gail Fox, Joan Finnigan. Bronwen Wallace and Carolyn Smart appeared, and began to publish a few years later on, Steven Heighton later still.”

In 2006 he received the Matt Cohen Award by the Writers’ Trust of Canada, in recognition of a distinguished lifetime contribution to Canadian literature.