04/25/2012 10:30 EDT | Updated 06/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Richard Gwyn biography of Sir John A. Macdonald wins Shaughnessy book prize

OTTAWA - Political columnist Richard Gwyn's second book on Canada's first prime minister has won the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.

The Writers' Trust of Canada announced "Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times; Volume Two: 1867-1891" (Random House Canada) as the winner of the 12th annual honour Wednesday at the Politics and the Pen Gala in Ottawa.

An officer of the Order of Canada, the Toronto-based Gwyn won the 2008 Charles Taylor Prize for his first volume on Macdonald, "The Man Who Made Us." That volume covered Macdonald from his birth in Scotland in 1815 to his achievement of Confederation in 1867.

The second volume, which covers Macdonald's time as prime minister until his death in 1891, was also was a finalist for a Governor General's non-fiction award and the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

"In 'Nation Maker,' Richard Gwyn gives us a politician who was far more shrewd and tough than either the debonair image he himself cultivated or the caricature imprinted on too much of our history," Shaughnessy Cohen Prize jury members David Akin, Charlotte Gray, and Janice Gross Stein said in a statement.

"Gwyn shows how Macdonald built a nation out of a reluctant union of impoverished colonies, and shaped the Canada we know today."

Gwyn writes on international and national affairs for the Toronto Star. He beat out four other finalists for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize, who each received $2,500.

They were Ron Graham for "The Last Act: Pierre Trudeau, the Gang of Eight, and the Fight for Canada"; Max and Monique Nemni (authors), George Tombs (translator) for "Trudeau Transformed: The Shaping of a Statesman, 1944–1965"; Andrew Nikiforuk for "Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests"; and Jacques Poitras for "Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border."