History of the Student Writing Contest

The Stephen Leacock Student Writing Contest was first introduced to secondary schools in 1976. Our archives show that the purpose of the competition was outlined at that time as “to encourage high school students in their writing, to recognize publicly some of the best student writers in our City and to promote understanding of the Leacock writing technique.”

The requirements were as follows:

1. It should be a minimum of one thousand words in length.

2. It should be of a humorous or satirical nature.

3. It should, for its subject, focus on some local topic – politics, society or some aspect of small town life.

The Award was offered until 1990. During those sixteen years, the mandate did not change but the prize money was raised from $50 to $100.

In 1990 it became apparent that the quantity and the quality of entries did not warrant continuing with the contest unless we expended a great deal of time and effort on marketing and promotion. Organizers chose not to continue running the competition.

In the fall of 2000, with the increased availability of creative writing courses, the time was right to again encourage the writing of humour, not only in the secondary schools but the community colleges. The competition entries exceeded our expectations. This wonderful response ensured the continuation of the contest.

It has continued to grow not only in quantity of entries but also in quality. With the help of our sponsors, Thor Motors of Orillia and Sun Media (Orillia Packet and Times), we have been able to increase the prize money offered our winner and extend the contest to include monetary awards for our second- and third-place finishers.

We thank all the Ontario teachers who encourage their students to take part in this cultural experience and hope they will continue to assist us in making humour a part of their students’ lives.

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