Bernadette Renaud | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Bernadette Renaud

Bernadette Renaud, author, playwright (born 18 April 1945 in Ascot Corner, Québec).
Bernadette Renaud
Author and Playwright, 2015 (Courtesy Annie Joan Gagnon).

Early Career

Bernadette Renaud, author, playwright (born 18 April 1945 in Ascot Corner, Québec). Fascinated by make-believe, Bernadette Renaud decided at the age of eight that she would be a writer one day. Her interests led naturally to her working first in a school library, and then teaching primary school. However, the dream of writing triumphed, and she wrote her first book of children's tales. Not long before its publication, she moved to the Montérégie along the St. Lawrence River and deciding to risk all, devoted herself exclusively to literary writing.

Children’s Literature

Émilie la baignoire à pattes, published by Éditions Héritage (1976), won a Canada Council for the Arts award that year, and Québec's Prix Alvine-Bélisle in 1977.

Beginning in 1978, Bernadette Renaud published several books for youth: La Révolte de la courtepointe and La Maison tête de pioche (Héritage); Le Chat de l'oratoire, La Dépression de l'ordinateur and La Grande question de Tomatelle, (all published by Fides); Comment on fait un livre? (Méridien); and a children's play, Une boîte magique très embêtante (Leméac). Bernadette Renaud also wrote texts for school albums and collections. (Le Sablier, Graficor, Erpi, Phare).


Still, she did not limit herself to literature. Since the early 1980s, she has written a dozen or so television scripts including several for the series Klimbo, Radio-Canada's Michou et Piloo, and Quand l'accent devient grave, a fifteen minute short for the National Film Board (NFB).

Her literary reputation established, Bernadette Renaud then made her name in film with Bach et Bottine. This full-length screenplay, and its English version Bach and Broccoli, marked a whole generation. The story tells of a young orphan girl prepared to move heaven and earth to win the approval of her only uncle, an organist and devoted admirer of Bach. Eventually, along with her inseparable pet skunk, she goes to live with him. Bernadette Renaud, assisted by Marcel Sabourin, wrote the project using ideas from her own Le Chat de l'oratoire, including nine versions of the screenplay! The film was directed by André Melançon, and won eighteen awards at international festivals. Dubbed and translated into many languages, it appealed to culturally diverse audiences and won the prestigious Special Prize from UNESCO in 1993 for the International Year of the Family. Bernadette Renaud also wrote the words for the LP Bach et Bottine that received Best Children's LP at the 1987 ADISQ gala.

In 1991, Bernadette Renaud wrote four episodes for the television series Watatatow that was very popular with youth at the time and received a Prix Gémeaux nomination in 1992.

Philosophical Tales for Adults and Children’s Albums

Adult audiences were introduced to Bernadette Renaud through La Quête de Kurweena, a philosophical tale; Héritiers de l'éternité, an essay on laws and universal energy; Un homme comme tant d'autres, a fictional trilogy; and the contemporary tetralogy Les Chemins d'Ève, all published by Libre Expression.

Meanwhile, Bernadette Renaud continued to publish other children's books including Le petit violon muet, an album accompanied by a CD (pub. Madacy Limitée, 1997) which she wrote, narrated and designed. Émilie, la baignoire à pattes, and then La Révolte de la courtepointe were published again under the new title Drôle de nuit pour Miti (Québec Amérique Jeunesse) becoming a finalist for the Atlantic Provinces Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Awards (2006). Her album, Les gros bisous, won the Grand prix du Livre de la Montérégie twice in the very young category - by jury (2000) and second prize, youth category (2005). The same publisher (Erpi) produced Pas de chouchou (2004), Mon chat zoo!, Casimir le maladroit (2006), and Juillet a disparu (2008). Isis ma belle Isis, (Québec Amérique Jeunesse) appeared in 2008.

Social Involvement

Bernadette Renaud has had three works translated into English and three produced in Braille (see Blindness and Vision Loss). A celebrated and prolific author, she served as advisor to the National Film Board and the Coscient Group. She promoted new authors through the Union des Écrivaines et des Écrivains québécois, was spokesperson at the Montérégie book fair in April 1999, and chair of the Association des Auteurs de la Montérégie's first literary festival.

Bernadette Renaud continues to give presentations to primary and secondary schools in Québec and French-speaking Canada, including to Inuit and Cree children so youth can benefit from her literary experience.


She speaks regularly at university conferences and fundraising dinners, notably for International Woman's Day, and she has been on numerous administrative boards and juries. On the international scene, Guyana, France and Belgium invited her for youth film festivals, and she has met with students and educators in the United States. For the past few years, Bernadette Renaud has also presented writing seminars for professionals and the public.

Bernadette Renaud belongs to several professional associations: l'Association des Auteurs de la Montérégie (AAM); l'Association des Écrivains québécois pour la jeunesse (AEQJ); la Société des Auteurs compositeurs dramatiques (SACD); and l'Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois (UNEQ).

Bernadette Renaud is well-travelled and interested in horticulture, ornithology and watercolours, and her writing sweeps us along through a fascinating range of subjects. She meets her faithful readers at conferences, speaking engagements and seminars.

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