The key objective behind the founding of the Stephen Leacock Associates was to establish a memorial medal, in honour of Stephen Leacock, to be awarded annually for the best book of humour written in the previous year by a Canadian.
The first recipient was Harry Symons for Ojibway Melody in June 1947. The Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal has been awarded every year since, with the exception of 1959. The number of entries has grown until, in 2010, seventy books were put forward for consideration.
A panel of judges is appointed from across Canada by a committee of the Associates’ Board of Directors. Publishers and writers across Canada await the announcement of the winner each year. A shortlist of five books is published in early April and the winning book is announced at the end of April. The medal and cash award are presented at the award dinner held in early June in Orillia. The award has attained an international reputation and is the only award of its kind for Canadian humour writing.