William Stener "Will" Ferguson (born October 12, 1964) is a Canadian travel writer and novelist best known for his humorous observations on Canadian history and culture.
His success as a writer can be attributed to an innate ability to view Canada much the same way an outsider would, as described in his debut book, the ironically named Why I Hate Canadians. Ferguson was born fourth of six children in the former fur trading post of Fort Vermilion, Alberta, approximately 800 km north of Edmonton. His parents split up when he was six years old, during a brief interlude in Regina. At the age of 16, he quit school and moved to Saskatoon, Dauphin, and Red Deer.
Ferguson is also an outspoken critic of the monarchy of Canada, both publicly and in his books. He is quoted in the media when the monarchy issue is being debated. He also profiles Canadian secessionist and independence movements (such as the "Republic of Madawaska") in his book Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw (2004).
He completed his high school education at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School (L.T.C.H.S.) in Red Deer, and was awarded the Alexander Rutherford Scholarships in all available categories. He then joined the Canadian government funded programs Katimavik and Canada World Youth. The latter program sent him to Ecuador in South America, as described in his book Why I Hate Canadians. He studied film production and screenwriting at York University in Toronto, graduating with a B.F.A. (Special Honours) in 1990.
He currently resides in Calgary, Alberta, with his wife and two sons. His older brother, Ian Ferguson, also won the Stephen Leacock Medal, for Village of the Small Houses in 2004. Another brother, Sean Ferguson, is currently the dean of music at McGill University.
Ferguson joined the JET Programme in the early 1990s, and lived in Kyushu, Japan for five years teaching English. He married Terumi in Kumamoto, Japan in 1995. After coming back from Japan he experienced a severe reverse culture shock, which became the basis for his first book Why I Hate Canadians. He details his experiences hitchhiking across Japan in Hokkaido Highway Blues, later retitled Hitching Rides with Buddha.
Awards and honours
Ferguson was a runner-up for the 1999 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction for I Was a Teenage Katima Victim: A Canadian Odyssey.
Ferguson has won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times: first for Generica (later renamed Happiness) in 2002, then for Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw in 2005 and for his travel memoir Beyond Belfast in 2010.
Ferguson won the 2012 Giller Prize for 419: A Novel (2012). The novel went on to win the 2013 Libris Award from the Canadian Booksellers Association for Fiction Book of the Year.
He also served on the jury of the 2015 Hilary Weston Prize for literary nonfiction.
Ferguson championed Sarah Binks by Paul Hiebert in Canada Reads 2003.