TORONTO - Toronto playwright Daniel MacIvor planned to raise a glass of fine ginger ale Monday night after picking up the most lucrative honour in Canadian theatre, the Siminovitch Prize.

The award - dedicated to scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright - is worth $75,000 and the winner gets to give an additional $25,000 to a protege or organization of their choosing.

"I don't drink alcohol so I won't be sipping champagne but I'll have the most expensive ginger ale they've got ... how about that?" MacIvor, 56, joked during an interview before the awards ceremony.

The Cape Breton-born performer was shortlisted along with Morwyn Brebner and Colleen Murphy of Toronto, Larry Tremblay of Montreal, and Daniel Danis of St-David de Falardeau, Que., from a long list of 26 playwrights.

MacIvor, who calls Toronto home, said he was truly surprised to have been chosen and wrote on his blog last month that he believed his chances of winning were slim to none.

"The last person who won was a white English guy who lived in Toronto and I just thought, 'Well, they won't do that again, they'll go for someone else ... but it turns out I was wrong," he said.

"If you look at the list of people who've won it, it's a very auspicious list to be a part of, there's something about the legacy of being a part of that group of people. It's pleasing to me and makes me humbled."

MacIvor, a performer, filmmaker and playwright, has a long list of credits to his name including 15 published plays. He's won several national prizes, including a 2006 Governor General's Award for his collection of five plays, "I Still Love You."

He also runs an international theatre touring company that has taken his work to Australia, Israel, Europe, the United Kingdom and across North America.

Jury chairman Leonard McHardy said the prize recognizes "the voice (MacIvor) gives through his plays to those for whom solitude provides a perception of the world through a different set of optics.

"Daniel's playwriting brings to the stage moments in life for which there are no words, exploring those things that escape categorization by language," he said in a statement.

MacIvor said the best part of winning is being able to give the $25,000 to proteges Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn of Vancouver.

"I find that they have an openness ... I think that often we try and come up with answers for everything and sometimes I find that answers close doors as opposed to opening them," he explained.

"They're very willing to confront their own doubts and questions and they bring it into the work and find not so much answers to their questions but solutions."

MacIvor is currently working on a new play called "Communion" for New York-based Montsgo Projects and a show called "Was Spring" for Nova Scotia's Mulgrave Road Theatre.

The other jury members were Toronto actress Patricia Hamilton; Ottawa translator, stage director, dramaturge and scholar Paul Lefebvre; Calgary dramaturge, programmer and producer Vicki Stroich; and Toronto director, teacher and translator John Van Burek.

The prize, which was first awarded in 2001, recognizes accomplishments in design, direction and playwriting in three-year cycles. Previous winners include Toronto director Daniel Brooks, Montreal playwright Carole Frechette, Montreal designer Louise Campeau, St. John's director Jillian Keiley, Toronto playwright John Mighton, Toronto set and costume designer Dany Lyne, and Montreal director Brigitte Haentjens.

The prize is presented by BMO Financial Group.