Denis McGrath

Denis McGrath

Affiliated Program

Bell Media Prime Time TV Program


Denis McGrath (1968-2017) was born in New York City and raised in Toronto. McGrath was an alumnus both of CFC Features in 1998, and then of the 2001 Prime Time TV Program. His work explored the tensions and contradictions of the Canadian experience, often with sly humour. Across The River to Motor City, his noir tale of JFK’s assassination and family secrets, won a Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award and Gemini nominations for Best Writing and Best Miniseries. He wrote for X Company, Continuum, Aftermath, Bitten, Rent-A-Goalie,Less Than Kind, Stargate Universe, Flashpoint, The Border, Creeped Out, and more.

As a journalist/producer, he helped build networks like Space, Citytv, Bravo!, and TVO. He taught at Ryerson University for over a decade and was Executive Producer in Residence at the Canadian Film Centre. McGrath championed Canadian television fiercely, through the Writers Talk TV podcast, news media, his industry blog, and the Writers Guild of Canada. In 2015, he received the WGC’s Writers Block Award for exceptional service to writers; it was recently renamed the Denis McGrath Award in his memory.


The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is proud to announce the Denis McGrath Bursary Award, a joint initiative of both the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) and the CFC. The award will offer an annual $5,000 cash bursary to a deserving CFC TV writer in the Bell Media Prime Time TV Program. Full bursary details and criteria will be available soon.

The WGC’s executive director Maureen Parker and the CFC’s chief programs officer Kathryn Emslie announced the new award during the WGC Screenwriting Awards, held on Monday, April 29 at the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning’s Koerner Hall in Toronto.

The WGC and CFC have joined forces to launch this bursary in Denis’s name to celebrate and sustain his legacy as a champion of writers and a significant advocate for storyteller rights here in Canada. In addition, the CFC will design and deliver a one-day bootcamp on advocacy for both its film and television writers — a step towards inspiring generations to engage actively in the evolution of our creative industries.

"This bursary honours Denis’ two passions — writing and advocating for Canadian content and Canadian screenwriters," said Maureen Parker, WGC executive director. "Denis was an exceptional writer and human being and this bursary assures that his extraordinary character and contributions to the industry will not be forgotten."

Many in the industry and our alumni have asked what they can do to honour and remember Denis. The WGC and CFC, with Denis’ loving wife and CFC writer alumna Kim Coghill, created this opportunity to raise funds that will extend this bursary in Denis’ name over many years.

We welcome your tax-deductible donations, which you can make here, or by phoning Michelle Johnson, Manager, Annual Giving, at 416.445.1446 x227.