Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Nathan Whitlock

Nathan Whitlock

Nathan Whitlock grew up in the Ottawa Valley, in a small town best known for its military base. (He wrote about the area in his first novel, 2008’s A Week of This.) Whitlock started writing as a teenager, getting his first publication credit by reviewing Oliver Stone’s JFK in the Ottawa Citizen at the age of 17. Whitlock attended Concordia University in Montreal, where he supported himself by, among other things, working nights at a hotel, unloading trucks at a carpet warehouse, and stocking St Lawrence cruise boats in the Old Port. After moving to Toronto in the late 90s, Whitlock ended up managing two busy bar-restaurants on College Street, an experience that inspired his 2016 novel Congratulations on Everything. He later became the managing editor of Descant literary quarterly, then the review editor of Quill & Quire, and then an associate editor at Toronto Life, all while contributing work to the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, the National Post, Maclean’s, and other publications. He also spent some time as an associate at Anne McDermid’s literary agency. In 2014, he began teaching writing and media communications at Humber College in Toronto, where he was also hired to build and run a scholarly press for the college, which he did until 2020, when he was hired as a full-time professor and as the coordinator for the Creative Book Publishing program.

He plays music as a hobby, and has regularly played drums with the Toronto Star band at the annual Newzapalooza media battle of the bands. He played in the ‘house band’ (alongside CNN’s Daniel Dale) for the launch of Crazy Town, journalist Robyn Doolittle’s book about former Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

Whitlock has three children, and is married to Meaghan Strimas, an award-winning poet and fellow professor at Humber College. They live in Hamilton, Ontario. Whitlock is a cancer survivor who underwent treatment for a tumour in his neck in 2016 while launching his second book. He wrote about this experience in a short memoir piece for Chatelaine magazine. (

Writers Festival Appearances