Born in 1933 in Midland, Ontario, Atkinson worked as a minister of the United Church of Canada. He wrote for CBC and for monthly magazines. He developed Dayspring, a festival of arts in Toronto. In 1972, he accepted an invitation from the Kwakiutl village of Cape Mudge to be their minister and moved to Quadra Island. While living in Qualicum Beach he wrote A Fire in the Rain (Oolichan Books, 1991), a collection of 52 contemplative essays. His later title was To Hold Awhile (Limen Books, 1997).

[BCBW 2003] "Religion"