Jon Peirce has been writing for most of his adult life, and serving as a mentor and editor to other writers for the past 30 years. After graduating from Amherst College with a B.A. in English, Peirce worked as a reporter on the Springfield (Mass.) Union, then served two years as a social worker in the Baltimore welfare department rather than going to Vietnam. In 1970, he came to Halifax to study English at Dalhousie, eventually receiving his M.A. and Ph.D. from that institution.
He taught English literature, composition, and communications at Susquehanna University, Central College, and Queen’s University between 1978 and 1983. In 1981, he began working as an active free-lance writer, mainly for the Kingston Whig-Standard. In 1984, tiring of short-term contracts, he switched to industrial relations, doing a master’s course in that area at Queen’s. From 1985 through 1990, he worked as a researcher-writer-editor for the Economic Council of Canada. After a brief stint with the federal energy department, he did doctoral work in industrial relations at the University of Toronto, then taught industrial relations at Memorial University from 1994 through 1997. From 1997 through 1999, he ran his own writing and editing business in Ottawa; it was during this time that he wrote the introductory textbook Canadian Industrial Relations.
Between 1999 and 2001, Peirce served as research director of the Fryer Commission, which sought to improve labour-management relations in the federal public service. He was principal author of the commission’s first report and a co-author and principal editor of its final report. In 2001, he began working for the Professional Institute, a union that represents professionals in the federal public service. From 2001 through 2003, he worked as a researcher. In 2003, he became a labour relations officer, spending the rest of his career in that capacity in the Institute’s Ottawa and Halifax offices before retiring in 2011.
In his consulting practice, Peirce focusses on helping authors learn to edit their own work, rather than on doing that work for them. “It’s more rewarding for me, and a lot less costly for the author,” he says.
An active member of the literary community in both Ottawa and Halifax, Peirce served for ten years on the board of the Ottawa Independent Writers (OIW). While with OIW, he offered workshops on Introduction to Poetry, introductory and advanced editing, essay-writing, and memoir-writing, which has recently become a strong focus of his consulting practice. With memoir-writing, he stresses the importance of moving beyond “musty documents and yellowing papers” to think about the significance of the life one is writing about.
Peirce, who was recently named to the WFNS Writers’ Council, is available to give workshops in all the areas just mentioned. He will also provide individual mentoring as required.
W.H. Dennis Prize for prose essay, Dalhousie University, 1974.
2nd prize, David Saxon Humanitarian Essay contest, St. John’s, NL, 1995.
Prize winner, City of Ottawa Seniors’ Short Story Contest, 2004.
2nd prize, Ottawa Independent Writers summer writing contest, 2005.
Honourable mention, Canadian Authors Association essay contest, Ottawa, ON, 2008.