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Terry Fallis


Terry Fallis grew up in Toronto and earned an engineering degree from McMaster University. Drawn to politics at an early age, he worked for Cabinet Ministers both at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa. A skilled public speaker, Terry Fallis is also cofounder of the public relations agency Thornley Fallis.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


My Unorthodox Journey to the Published Land
A funny and thoughtful tale of perseverance, innovation, and one of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious literary awards.

Podcasting: Building a community yourself
An introduction to podcasting and how organizations and individuals can use it to build profile and community.

The Social Media Revolution
An introduction to social media and how it is changing how organizations engage audiences.

Using New Media to Drive Old Media: A social media case study
How Terry Fallis employed social media to help build an audience, win the Leacock Medal for Humour, and land a publisher for his debut novel, The Best Laid Plans.


Leacock Medal for No Relation

Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award for Up and Down
Canadian Booksellers Association | Libris Award for Author of the Year

CBC Canada Reads | Essential Canadian novel of the decade for Best Laid Plans

Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for Best Laid Plans

  • Terry Fallis was a hit, as our event's keynote speaker. He was entertaining and charming, and his story, the story of how he went from a self-published, first-time novelist to a Leacock Medal winner with a publishing deal, was inspirational. Listening to his presentation, as well as readings from his novel, our audience certainly understood why Terry Fallis won a medal for humour for The Best Laid Plans...very, very funny.

    - Borden Ladner, Gervais LLP
  • Terry Fallis is a master communicator, strategist and novelist. I've had the pleasure of hearing Terry engage and intrigue audiences for a number of years and each time I walk away more knowledgeable, more curious and more inquisitive from having listened to his stories about politics, public relations and the social media arena.

    - DeGroote School of Business McMaster University

Summary Profile

Terry Fallis is the award-winning author of four national bestsellers, all published by McClelland & Stewart (M&S). His debut novel, The Best Laid Plans, won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and was crowned the 2011 winner of CBC Canada Reads as the “essential Canadian novel of the decade.“

In January 2014, CBC aired a six-part television miniseries based on The Best Laid Plans earning very positive reviews. It is also in development as a stage musical by Touchstone Theatre in Vancouver. The High Road was published in September 2010 and was a finalist for the 2011 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. Terry’s third novel, Up and Down, was released in September 2012. It debuted on the Globe and Mail bestsellers list, was a finalist for the 2013 Leacock Medal, and won the 2013 Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award. Terry’s fourth novel, No Relation, hit bookstores in May 2014, opened on the Globe and Mail bestsellers list, and won the 2015 Leacock Medal. M&S will publish Terry’s fifth novel, Poles Apart, in October 2015.

Terry Fallis earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree from McMaster University (1983) where he became engulfed in university politics and somehow persuaded the undergraduates to elect him President of the Students Union.

After graduation, he turned his back on engineering and joined future Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s full time staff for the 1984 federal Liberal Leadership campaign. He served on the political staff of the Liberal Minister of State for Youth, the Honourable Jean Lapierre, in the short-lived cabinet of Prime Minister John Turner. He stayed with Lapierre as his Legislative Assistant in opposition (1984-85) following the landslide victory of Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservative Party.

Terry returned to Toronto in 1985 as Legislative Assistant to the Honourable Robert Nixon, Treasurer (now called Finance Minister) in the newly-elected Liberal Ontario government led by Premier David Peterson.

For nearly eight years (1988-95) after leaving provincial politics, he was a government affairs and communications consultant with the international PR firm, Hill and Knowlton, including stints as Vice President running the Ontario government affairs group and finally President of Berger & Associates, a Hill and Knowlton subsidiary. In 1995, he co-founded Thornley Fallis with Joe Thornley, a full service communications consulting agency with offices in Ottawa and Toronto. Terry also created and co-hosted more than 200 episodes of the popular business podcast, Inside PR.

For more than 25 years, Terry has counselled corporate and government clients on various fronts including crisis communications, media relations, issues management, marketing communications, public opinion polling, public affairs, stakeholder relations, etc. He has also written speeches for CEOs, cabinet ministers, and other community leaders.

A homebuilt hovercraft plays a supporting role in The Best Laid Plans. Terry has always had a thing for hovercrafts. Here’s the hovercraft Terry and a classmate designed and built in 1975, when they weren’t yet old enough to drive a car.