On June 16, 1944, a couple of months after Stephen Leacock’s death, Charles Harold (C.H.) Hale, the editor of the Orillia (Ontario, Canada) Packet and Times newspaper, convened a meeting at the local library to identify ways of honouring the humorist and promoting his legacy. The committee struck that day quickly decided to create an award for books of humour. The award eventually took the form of a silver medal crafted by Emanuel Hahn, the sculptor who also designed the Cariboo quarter, the Bluenose dime, and other Canadian icons.
The committee later assumed the name “Leacock Associates” to denote individual people working together rather than a featureless institution. The Associates awarded the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour for the first time in 1947.
My book, What’s So Funny? Lessons from Canada’s Leacock Medal for Humour Writing celebrates the books honoured by the award and tries to contribute to their broader mission: “To encourage the growth of Canadian humorous writing.”
What’s So Funny? is dedicated to Jean Dickson, Pete McGarvey, Judith Rapson, and the other members of the Leacock Associates whose volunteer efforts have sustained the medal program for close to seventy years and gave me something special to read over the last few.