Byrna Barclay

Memorial Service

1:00 pm
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Speers Funeral Chapel
2136 College Ave
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Obituary of Byrna Robin Barclay



1940 – 2023


It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Byrna Robin Barclay (nee Burton) on Sunday, May 7, 2023, at 82 years of age. She leaves behind her beloved husband, the Honourable Ronald Lyman Barclay, K.C., daughter Julianna, son Bruce, and granddaughter Zoe Ayn Barclay-Wright (Eric). 

Byrna is the daughter and only child of the late Robert Lewis Burton and Helen Evelyn Burton (nee Bjorling) and was born in Saskatoon, SK, on October 8th, 1940. She spent many summers and holidays at the farm with her grandmother and family in Livelong, SK, and attended Nutana High School in Saskatoon.

 In the 1950s, few students traveled to study. After high school graduation, Byrna received an international students' scholarship to Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey, where she was their first Canadian student. The college was only a 30 min drive from New York. It exposed her to a city flourishing in theatre, music, and literature: a life-changing experience she carried with her forever. Byrna then returned home to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree. As a volunteer scrutineer during the Medicare Election of 1960, she met a young lawyer with a red bowtie named Ronald Lyman Barclay. The two were smitten and soon eloped to Ottawa. In 1961 their daughter Julianna was born, and their son Bruce followed in 1964.

 Byrna was a pillar of the Saskatchewan literary community. Throughout her life, Byrna had a passion for writing that was evident in the numerous books, essays, and articles she authored. She was a celebrated writer in Canada and beyond, receiving critical acclaim for her work, and her contribution to the literary world will continue to inspire generations of writers to come. Byrna was a guest lecturer at universities throughout North America and even read from her work onboard an oceanic tour of Russia.

 She was the editor of Freelance, the Saskatchewan Writers Guild's newsletter; fiction editor of Grain, its literary journal; and founding editor of Transition, a magazine that provides an authenticated voice for the mental health community, published by the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Byrna worked tirelessly to support and mentor young writers and, in 2015, created Burton House Books with the mandate to publish emerging writers. Her commitment to improving the arts in Saskatchewan was well-respected.

Byrna served as president of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, the Saskatchewan Book Awards, the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association and was also chair of the Saskatchewan Arts Board.

 Another example of Byrna's outstanding contributions to the province was her advocacy for quality mental health care. She recognized the need for improvement and got to work, representing marginalized voices with clarity, respect, and determination. Byrna changed many lives for the better.

 Byrna was recognized for her outstanding volunteer service and received many awards for both writing and advocacy. In 2004 she was presented with the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the province's highest honour.

 Byrna and Ron were happily married for 62 years and were true soulmates who shared many common interests. They were both voracious readers, rarely seen without a book in their hands. They loved to entertain and had a broad and diverse cross-section of valued friends. 

 Byrna and Ron shared a love of travel, and they spent many happy years enjoying the world together. They had a special connection that lasted throughout their many years of marriage. She drew much writing inspiration from it all.

 As a devoted mother and grandmother, she enjoyed spending time with her daughter Julianna, her son Bruce, and her granddaughter Zoe, who had a special place in her heart. Zoe always knew she was "Boona's" favorite person; it was apparent. Their bond was unbreakable, and they stayed close for the rest of Byrna's life.

 Byrna will be deeply missed by all who knew her, but her legacy will live on through her family, friends, and incredible body of work. All who had the privilege of knowing her will remember her kindness, intelligence, and creativity.

 The family would like to thank Dr. Gordon Kaban, the nurses, and the support staff for the professionalism, exemplary support, understanding, love, and kindness they provided to Byrna during her stay in Ward 6A at the Regina General Hospital.

 A Memorial Service will take place at Speers Funeral Chapel, 2136 College Avenue, Regina, SK on Tuesday, July 11th, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. Family and friends wishing may make donations, in memorium, to the CMHA Saskatchewan Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, 2702-12 Avenue, Regina, SK. S4T 1J2 or the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild, 1150-8 Avenue, #100, Regina, SK. S4R 1C9. To leave an online message of condolence, please visit





Share Your Memory of