Burnard won a string of awards for her work, including the prestigious Giller Prize in 1999 for A Good House, a novel about an ordinary Ontario family who lived through the post-Second World War boom.
“You could read her work and feel that those people existed and they were recognizable, you could feel a kind of tenderness toward them,” Barfoot said in an interview Sunday, adding Burnard cared about every word she put down.
“A real precision, a real care for words and what they mean and how she wanted them placed.”
Burnard was born in Petrolia, Ont., in 1945. She lived for many years in Regina before moving to London, Ont., where she became a writer in residence at the University of Western Ontario in the 1990s.
In addition to her Giller Prize, she won the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award for her work Casino & Other Stories, and her first short story collection Women of Influence, won the Commonwealth Best First Book Award.
Burnard was “feisty” with strong views but very compassionate, said Barfoot.