The misadventures of a rookie reporter in the backwoods of British Columbia seems an appropriate recipe for humour. For Mark Leiren-Young, it is a prize-winning recipe. The Vancouver-based playwright/film-maker/writer has been named the winner of the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and the TD Bank Financial Group’s $15,000 cash prize for his book Never Shoot a Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo.
The announcement was made at a noontime luncheon, hosted by the Stephen Leacock Association, on April 30 in Swanmore Hall on the grounds of the historical Stephen Leacock Memorial Museum in Orillia, Ontario.
President of the Leacock Association Wayne Scott announced the winner before a standing-room-only audience that included nominated authors, representatives from Canada’s publishing industry, honoured guests, sponsors and media.
“We are pleased to see the continuing interest in humour writing in Canada,” stated Mr. Scott. “This year, we had 47 nominees from across Canada and an outstanding short list. The Leacock Association is proud to continue this tradition of honouring not only some of our best humorists, but some of our best writers, period!”
Never Shoot A Stampede Queen, Mr. Leiren-Young’s first book, is a memoir of his adventures living and working in the B.C. interior town of Williams Lake. Not only does the author recount his encounters with the police, loggers, the fire department, fellow workers and, yes, beauty contest aspirants for the local rodeo, but he tells his story with both humour and compassion. As his readers will find out, it is a wonderfully amusing story.
The other books short-listed for this year’s award were Kill All the Judges by William Deverell, Kiss the Joy As It Flies by Sheree Fitch, Uproar by Jack MacLeod and In the Land of the Long Fingernails by Charles Wilkins. Each of the other finalists will, for the first time in the award’s history, be awarded cheques for $1,500, also courtesy of the TD Bank Financial Group.
The Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour has been awarded since 1947 as a means to honour the dean of Canadian humourists and to perpetuate humorous writing in Canada. Some of our finest authors, including Pierre Berton, W.O. Mitchell, Mordecai Richler and Robertson Davies, have been recipients of the award over the past six decades. Last year’s winner was first-time author Terry Fallis for his political satire The Best Laid Plans. Both the silver Leacock medal and the cheque will be presented to the winner at the annual Leacock dinner to be held June 13, 2009, at Geneva Park, near Orillia.