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First-ever Leacock Medal gets permanent home (3 photos)

Family of Harry Symons, winner of inaugural humour award, donates medal to be displayed at University Club of Toronto


A piece of history with a connection to Orillia now has a permanent home in Toronto.

During an event Monday evening, the family of Harry Symons, the winner of the first Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, presented the medal to the University Club of Toronto.

Symons was president of the club in 1950. He won the inaugural Leacock Medal in 1947 for his novel, Ojibway Melody.

“He would take great pleasure at what we’re doing now,” said Thomas Symons, the author’s son. “This club meant so much to my father.”

Since Harry Symons’s death in 1962, the medal has made the rounds with family members. Its last stop before coming to the University Club of Toronto was at the home of Ariadné Symons, a judge with the Superior Court of California. She made the trip to Toronto to present the medal Monday night.

Club president D. Ross Peebles was thrilled to be able to put the medal on permanent display in the University Avenue building.

“It means a lot to have this,” he said, noting the importance of literary awards like the Leacock Medal. “They form, for most of us, a sort of reading list we can enjoy.”

Peebles said the medal “will have a most appreciative audience” at the club.

The University Club of Toronto is a fitting home for the historic medal, said Nathan Taylor, president of the Orillia-based Leacock Associates, who award the medal every year.

“Given the Symons family’s deep connection to this club, this is a very appropriate place to put Harry’s medal on display,” he said. “On behalf of the Leacock Associates, I thank the family for being such careful stewards of this special medal, and the University Club of Toronto for agreeing to add it to its stunning collection of art and artifacts.”

Learn more about the Leacock Medal and Leacock Associates here.



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