According to Talin Vartanian, producer for CBC’s The Sunday Edition, and regular collaborator on cbc.ca, every winter, Canadian “snowbirds” bored with sun and sand flock in growing numbers to San Miguel de Allende, a small city nestled in the Sierra Madre mountains. A three-hour drive northwest of Mexico City, San Miguel has grown into a vibrant artistic community for painters, sculptors, musicians and writers, as well as for those who love the arts.
“San Miguel has the sun, the dry air and beautiful colours, but for me the most compelling thing here is the culture,” says author Merilyn Simonds, who has been escaping to SMA (as locals call it) from Kingston, Ontario since 2012, along with her husband, author Wayne Grady. Like most regulars, they first came for a couple of weeks and increased the length of their stay each time. Since 2016, they have been living and writing in San Miguel for half of the year.
“It’s a six-month writing retreat, with no obligations,” she says. “We live a rarified writer’s life in San Miguel: we read, write and walk around.”
Author Sandra Gulland, who was born in the U.S. then moved to Canada, also spends half her time in San Miguel with her husband. She says the historic character of the city makes it an ideal setting for her genre, historical fiction.