County Reads Authors Festival 2024

Thursday to Saturday, April 18-20

The festival begins this year on April 18 with the hugely popular County Reads, our version of Canada Reads, where five brave contestants debate the superiority of their chosen Canadian books.

County Reads is followed by two days of author events, focusing on Canadian authors who have achieved excellence in their field, or who represent excellence among emerging voices in Canadian literature.

This year we are thrilled to be able to present the author events in the beautiful, newly renovated and expanded Carnegie library in Picton. Admission is $20 per event or $60 for all four author events. Tickets are available at any Library Branch or at the door.


County Reads Debate

Thursday, April 18, 7:00 PM
Come cheer on Roz Bound, Karen Valihora, Andrew Binks, J.C. Sulzenko and Ernie Margetson as they defend their chosen Canadian books. Moderated by Ken Murray. Thursday 18, April, at 7:00 PM. Presented live at St. Mary Magdalene Church, 355 Main Street, Picton. Admission $10. Tickets at any branch of the Library and at the door.

Author Events


Friday, April 19, 8:45 AM

Peggy Collins

Harley the Hero is an exciting picture book inspired by a real-life classroom service dog with themes of friendship, neurodivergence, and courage.

Harley the service dog is on the job! He goes to school every day with Ms. Prichard to make sure she feels safe. Their students are a lot of fun, but Harley can’t play with them while he's wearing his work vest. They write him lots of letters instead, and everything is perfect in the best, most quiet class in the whole school. Until the day the old stage curtains catch fire. As the fire alarm blares and chaos erupts, Harley remembers that Ms. Prichard isn't the only human in his class who gets upset by loud noises.

Inspired by a true story, Harley the Hero celebrates the work of service animals and the normalization of neurodivergence. Author-illustrator Peggy Collins brings Harley and his class to charming life and concludes with an Author's Note about the real dog behind the fictional Harley.

Peggy Collins is an award-winning children’s book author-illustrator with more than thirty-five titles to her name, including Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On, In the Snow, and In the Garden. She has also written and illustrated for animated apps teaching math, indigenous history, and education. Peggy lives in Newburgh, Ontario with her two children.

Terry Fallis

A New Season from beloved and bestselling author Terry Fallis, comes a novel unlike any of his others - A thoughtful exploration of aging, loss, family, friendship, and love, all with his trademark humour and heart.

Jack McMaster seemingly has it all. A beautiful house, a loving son of many talents (including cooking, which is great news for Jack, if not for his waistline), even a special bond with his buddies in his ball hockey league. But he’s also learning to live with loss, leaving a gaping hole in his life—a life that will never be the same as before. Jack passes his days knowing he has the support of his family and his friends, but he can’t shake the feeling that his life has gone gray, and that time is slipping by so quickly.

Then, a short and shocking video from an unexpected source gives him the gumption to make a change and maybe even haul himself out of his melancholia. Inspired by his lifelong fascination with 1920s Paris, Jack finally visits the City of Light, following in the footsteps of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and wandering the Left Bank. Slowly, the colour seeps back into his life, aided by a chance encounter in a café that leads Jack into the art world, and a Paris mystery nearly a century old.

Full of sincerity and warmth, A New Season shows us all that sometimes, making a change in your life can save your life.

Terry Fallis grew up in Toronto and earned an engineering degree from McMaster University. Drawn to politics at an early age, he worked for cabinet ministers in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park. His first novel, The Best Laid Plans, began as a podcast, then was self-published, won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, was re-published by McClelland & Stewart to great reviews, was crowned the 2011 winner of CBC’s Canada Reads as “the essential Canadian novel of the decade,” and was adapted as a CBC Television series and a stage musical. His next two novels, The High Road and Up and Down were finalists for the Leacock Medal, and in 2015, he won the prize a second time, for his fourth book, No Relation. His other novels include Poles ApartOne Brother ShyAlbatross, and Operation Angus, and were all national bestsellers. A skilled public speaker, he lives in Toronto with his wife, and blogs at

Charlotte Gray

Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt is a captivating dual biography of two famous women whose sons would change the course of the 20th century—by award-winning historian Charlotte Gray.

Born into upper-class America in the same year, 1854, Sara Delano (later to become the mother of Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Jennie Jerome (later to become the mother of Winston Churchill) refused to settle into predictable, sheltered lives as little-known wives to prominent men. Instead, both women concentrated their energies on enabling their sons to reach the epicentre of political power on two continents.

In the mid-19th century, the British Empire was at its height, France’s Second Empire flourished, and the industrial vigor of the United States of America was catapulting the republic towards the Gilded Age. Sara and Jennie, raised with privilege but subject to the constraints of women’s roles at the time, learned how to take control of their destinies—Sara in the prosperous Hudson Valley, and Jennie in the glittering world of Imperial London.

Yet their personalities and choices were dramatically different. A vivacious extrovert, Jennie married Lord Randolph Churchill, a rising politician and scion of a noble British family. Her deft social and political maneuverings helped not only her mercurial husband but, once she was widowed, her ambitious son, Winston. By contrast, deeply conventional Sara Delano married a man as old as her father. But once widowed, she made Franklin, her only child, the focus of her existence. Thanks in large part to her financial support and to her guidance, Franklin acquired the skills he needed to become a successful politician.

Set against one hundred years of history, Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons is a study in loyalty and resilience. Gray argues that Jennie and Sara are too often presented as lesser figures in the backdrop of history rather than as two remarkable individuals who were key in shaping the characters of the sons who adored them and in preparing them for leadership on the world stage.

Impeccably researched and filled with intriguing social insights, Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons breathes new life into Sara and Jennie, offering a fascinating and fulsome portrait of how leaders are not just born but made.

Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known writers and the author of twelve acclaimed books of literary nonfiction, including The Promise of Canada. Her bestseller The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial That Shocked a Country won the Toronto Book Award, the Heritage Toronto Book Award, the Canadian Authors Association Lela Common Award for Canadian History, and the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book. It was shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize, the Ottawa Book Award for Nonfiction, and the Evergreen Award, and it was longlisted for the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Nonfiction. An adaptation of her bestseller Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike was broadcast as a television miniseries. An adjunct research professor in the department of history at Carleton University, Charlotte has received numerous awards, including the Pierre Berton Award for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Visit her at


Saturday, April 20, 10:00 AM

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Phil Hall

Phil Hall has published widely in Canada for more than 50 years. Some recent titles are: Niagara & Government (2020); Toward a Blacker Ardour (2021); The Ash Bell (2022); and his new book Vallejo's Marrow (2024). He has won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in English, and Ontario’s Trillium Book Award. He is the founder of Flat Singes Press, and of the Page Lecture Series at Queen’s University. He has been writer-in-residence at the Pierre Berton House in the Yukon, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Sage Hill Writing Experience in Saskatchewan, the University of New Brunswick, and elsewhere He is a valued editor and reader of his own poetry. He lives near Perth, Ontario.

From Prose to Music: a Methods Workshop. The workshop will focus on ways to move your poetry away from prose toward a more musical sense of line, etc. Time, syntax, meaning, chronology, accuracy, punctuation, and other elements will be considered while we read each others' poems and think about their methods. The group will workshop one poem for each participant. For the second submitted poem, Phil will give back with written notes, suggested authors’ poems & books, etc.

Click HERE to register.

Roy MacGregor

In Paper Trails one of Canada's greatest journalists shares a half century of the stories behind the stories.
From his vantage point harnessed to a tree overlooking the town of Huntsville (he tended to wander), a very young Roy MacGregor got in the habit of watching people—what they did, who they talked to, where they went. He has been getting to know his fellow Canadians and telling us all about them ever since.
    From his early days in the pages of Maclean's, to stints at the Toronto Star, Ottawa CitizenNational Post and most famously from his perch on page two of the Globe and Mail, MacGregor was one of the country's must-read journalists. While news media were leaning increasingly right or left, he always leaned north, his curiosity trained by the deep woods and cold lakes of Algonquin Park to share stories from Canada's farthest reaches, even as he worked in the newsrooms of its southern capitols. From Parliament to the backyard rink, subarctic shores to prairie expanses, MacGregor shaped the way Canadians saw and thought about themselves—never entirely untethered from the land and its history.
    When MacGregor was still a young editor at Maclean's, the 21-year-old chief of the Waskaganish (aka Rupert's House) Crees, Billy Diamond, found in Roy a willing listener as the chief was appealing desperately to newsrooms across Ottawa, trying to bring attention to the tainted-water emergency in his community. Where other journalists had shrugged off Diamond's appeals, MacGregor got on a tiny plane into northern Quebec. From there began a long friendship that would one day lead MacGregor to a Winnipeg secret location with Elijah Harper and his advisors, a host of the most influential Indigenous leaders in Canada, as the Manitoba MPP contemplated the Charlottetown Accord and a vote that could shatter what seemed at the time the country's last chance to save Confederation. 
    This was the sort of exclusive access to vital Canadian stories that Roy MacGregor always seemed to secure. And as his ardent fans will discover, the observant small-town boy turned pre-eminent journalist put his rare vantage point to exceptional use. Filled with reminiscences of an age when Canadian newsrooms were populated by outsized characters, outright rogues and passionate practitioners, the “unputdownable” Paper Trails is a must-read account of a life lived in stories.

Roy MacGregor is the acclaimed and bestselling author of Home Team: Fathers, Sons and Hockey (shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award); A Life in the Bush (winner of the US Rutstrum Award for Best Wilderness Book and the CAA Award for Biography); and bestsellers Northern Light, Canoe Country and Original Highways; as well as two novels, Canoe Lake and The Last Season, and the popular Screech Owls mystery series for young readers. A longtime columnist for the Globe and Mail and numerous other newspapers and magazines, MacGregor won four National Magazine Awards and two National Newspaper Awards. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was described in the citation as one of Canada's "most gifted storytellers."

Bruce Sudds

The Song of O’Sullivan’s Chain by Bruce Sudds

Devin O’Sullivan has returned to his family’s home on Grand Island, across from Kingston, Ontario, Canada, during the final days of the life of his great-grandfather, Michael. Struggling with a crisis in his political career, he is drawn to the tales of his family and quickly swept up by their present travails.

The Song of O’Sullivan’s Chain explores the Irish experience in Canada by presenting a series of linked stories that propel us through generations of the O’Sullivan family. They struggle for freedom in Ireland and acceptance in Canada, tormented by political and personal traumas, which compels them to be leaders, artists and outlaws – all searching for home.

The author, Bruce Sudds, is an observer, essayist, and writer.  A graduate of York University specializing in Creative Writing, he has worked as a journalist, speechwriter, and social entrepreneur.

Bruce does most of his scribbling on an island near Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where he lives with his wife, Carrie, and their three daughters.