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Leacock Medal long list reveals 11 nominees

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

Leacock Medal for Humour

Leacock Medal for Humour

The Leacock Associates are marking 70 years of celebrating the best in Canadian literary humour.

The Orillia-based non-profit group has put together a weekend of events bringing authors and humour fans together in celebrating those Canadians who make us laugh with the printed word. The Leacock Medal is the only national literary humour award presented annually in Canada, named in honour of famed humorist Stephen Leacock.

One of the reasons it has been such a mainstay in Canadian literature is because of its namesake, Nathan Taylor, president of Leacock Associates, believes.

“(With Leacock) being one of the most well-known and respected humorists in Canada, that alone has helped us stay around this long,” said Taylor (who is also an editor at the Packet & Times). “It’s a testament to the timelessness of his work.”

“It’s always important to recognize the authors who make us laugh,” Taylor added.

The Leacock Associates will do that this year thanks to the continued support of TD Bank Financial Group, which has again supplied the $15,000 grand prize to the Leacock Medal winner. Runners-up will also receive cash prizes.

The long list of 11 entries, released earlier this week, includes familiar names such as Drew Hayden Taylor, who has taken part in the Leacock Summer Festival, and Noah Richler, son of former Leacock Medal winner Mordecai Richler. The list also features Gary Barwin, whose Yiddish for Pirates has already been nominated for the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award.

Also on the long list: John Armstrong’s A Series of Dogs; Mona Awad’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl; Judy Batalion’s White Walls; Lesley Crewe’s Mary, Mary; C.P. Hoff’s A Town Called Forget; Marni Jackson’s Don’t I Know You; Amy Jones’s We’re All in This Together; and Jack Knox’s Hard Knox: Musings from the Edge of Canada.

It’s an eclectic list, as always, Taylor said, showcasing various styles of humour from various backgrounds.

The long list also features six female authors.

“We’ve heard before about a lack of women winning the award or being shortlisted for the award,” Taylor said. “This shows that’s not something our judges go into this process thinking about. Those who made observations about there being not many female winners and nominees will probably be pleased to see this year’s long list with more than half of them being female.”

The gala weekend, taking place June 9 to 11, will include three main events.

On June 9, Laugh With Leacock will take place at the Best Western Mariposa Inn. This will replace last year’s Pub Night and the longstanding student soiree at the Leacock Musuem. Instead, a three-course meal will be served at the inn, giving literary fans the best chance to mix and mingle with the nominated authors and those up for the student award, which will also be handed out that evening.

On June 10, the annual gala takes place at YMCA Geneva Park in Ramara. There, the 2017 Leacock Medal winner will be revealed, continuing a tradition that began only in 2016, rather than having the winner announced in advance.

The final day of the weekend sees the action shift back to the Mariposa Inn. A brunch with the authors will once again be held at The Grape and Olive restaurant inside the hotel.

Full information on all the events can be found on the Leacock Associates website at

While the 70th anniversary of the Leacock Associates is cause for celebration, it will be with heavy hearts this year for past and present board members. This will be the first award season in recent memory without the contribution of Marilyn Rumball, one of the longest-serving volunteers, who died recently.

“When we recognize the winning student this year, I think that will be a bittersweet moment,” Taylor said. “It’s something she took great pride in. She essentially successfully lobbied the board to save it from being cancelled. We’re going to miss her passion for that.”

The three books that will make up the Leacock Medal shortlist will be announced May 3. 

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