This Wednesday, the first Canadian Writers' Summit (CWS) kicks off in Toronto. The four-day event, which features more than 200 speakers and panelists, will be the largest event of its kind in Canada.

A collaboration between 14 national writers’ organizations CWS will feature keynote speakers such as Lawrence Hill (The Book of Negroes) and sessions on how to write grant applications and pitch stories to magazines.

The Writers’ Trust of Canada, one of the groups that organized CWS, said its goal was to bring members of different national writing groups together. According to Mary Osborne, executive director of the Writers’ Trust, the initial idea sprang from an event in Banff, Alberta, two years ago, during the National Summit of Writers’ Associations.

“By pooling resources, we’re able to deliver a broader range of programming, and also bring together writers who are not just in different areas of the country, but different genres, who are usually at their own conferences, separated according to the organization they belong to,” she said.

The summit will make use of Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre—the same venue used for the annual Word on the Street Festival and the International Festival of Authors—and its varied indoor and outdoor locations. In addition to the speakers and sessions, there will be a two-day book fair, called Book Hub, where indie publishers and arts organizations can sell books and promote their services.

“I think there will be a cross-pollination of ideas with people working in different genres who are not usually in touch with one another at their conferences, who have a chance to meet here,” says Osborne.

If the inaugural CWS proves a success, Osborne said the plan is to hold the event every other year, with each individual organization holding its own summit in different locations across the country on alternate years.