If you enjoy reading quality humour, get your hands on the books shortlisted for the prestigious 2006 Leacock Medal for Humour.
The list has just been announced: "Pitch Black" by Arthur Black (Harbour Publishing), "Take Me Out of the Ball Game" by Joe Campbell (Thistledown Press), "When My Mind Wanders It Brings Back Souvenirs" by Gordon Kirkland (AuthorHouse), "Wingfield's Hope – More Letters from Wingfield Farm" by Dan Needles (Key Porter Books) and "Crazy About Lili" by William Weintraub (Douglas Gibson Books).
In the past decade, nationally renowned writer and area resident Dan Needles has been shortlisted three times. In 2003, Dan Needles was awarded the Leacock Medal for his book "With Axe and Flask – A History of Persephone Township from Pre-Cambrian Times to the Present".
"Wingfield's Hope", Dan Needles' newest installment in the Wingfield saga comes not as a play or television special but as a book of letters from transplanted Bay Street C.E.O. Walt Wingfield describing the less than pastoral existence on his farm in PersephoneTownship. The editor of the local newspaper gets to hear first hand how Walt struggles to make ends meet and be accepted in a farming area that suspiciously eyes the part-time broker and part-time farmer. Walt should be happy now that he has married Maggie, the girl next door, but he senses the voices of the rural community slipping away, possibly lost forever. Needles has created a fictional rural community populated by an assortment of characters, both human and animal. The former includes the Squire, who is losing his memory. The latter includes Walt's horses Feedbin, Mortgage and King and his haunted Oxford ram named Pink Floyd. Stephen Leacock himself would recognize these fictional but quintessential Canadians.
The Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour is Canada's premier award for humour in Canadian Literature. It was established in 1946, two years after the death of Stephen Leacock, by the Leacock Associates. Close friends, colleagues and supporters of Stephen Leacock were the original members of the Leacock Associates (originally the Stephen Leacock Memorial Committee) when it was formed in 1946 under the guidance of Orillia Packet Editor, C. H. Hale. Membership was Orillia-based, but quickly spread through North America and England.
Since the Leacock Award was first offered in 1947, many respected Canadian writers have been honoured: Robertson Davies, Mordecai Richler, W.O. Mitchell, Farley Mowat. Most recently: Stuart McLean, Arthur Black and Will Ferguson (2005 recipient).
Last year, Dan Needles made his inaugural address as the new Mayor of Mariposa, toasting Morley Torgov with the "Order of Mariposa", in recognition of his long standing as a Canadian humourist.
The 59th awarding of the Leacock Medal (2006) will be announced on April l9, 2006 in Orillia. A $10,000 prize generously sponsored by TD Bank Financial Group is generally awarded.
Dan Needles has also been busy playwriting. His newest multi-character play "Ed's Garage" will be produced by Theatre Collingwood August 23-26 and 29 - September 2. "Wingfield's Inferno", the sixth in the Wingfield stories will be performed for Mirvish Productions at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre April 25 - June 4, 2006.
For more information on the Leacock Award and the announcement dinner please visit the website: www.leacock.ca, or contact: The Stephen Leacock Association, Box 854, Orillia, Ontario, L3V 6K8. To contact Theatre Collingwood, 705-445-2200 or visit: www.theatrecollingwood.com