Stephen Leacock (1869 – 1944)

Legendary Humorist

Stephen Leacock is probably Canada’s best-known humorist and was even at one point in his life even called the best-known Canadian in the world. He was at the very least one of the most popular authors in the English-speaking world in the early part of the 20th century – his fame propelled by books like Literary Lapses, Nonsense Novels, his satirical masterpiece, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, and Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich. Comedic legends like Jack Benny and Groucho Marx were influenced by his work. He was also a renowned teacher and political scientist. He began his teaching career at McGill, in political science and history, in 1902. He continued until 1936, stopping at age 65 only because of the mandatory retirement age. His status as a Canadian icon can be seen in these facts: the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour has been awarded yearly since 1947 for the best humorous book by a Canadian author; to mark the centenary of Leacock's birth the Government of Canada in 1968 issued a six-cent stamp in his honour; and in 1970, a mountain in the Yukon's Saint Elias range was named after him. He is the funniest McGillian at a University that is, shall we say, occasionally lacking a sense of humour, and that makes him our Greatest McGillian.