Stephen Leacock, Canada’s beloved humourist spent his most creative time in what he coined as Lake Simcoe Country.
The success of his Elements of Political Science and his first satirical books Literary Lapses, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and Arcadian Adventures of the Idle Rich allowed him to move from his family’s summer house at Sibbald Point, Lake Simcoe and over time develop his own lakeside retreat at Old Brewery Bay, where Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching join.
Here in 1928 he built the Leacock House (above) designed by Wright & Noxon, Toronto. The scale and ambience of the plans reflected Leacock’s success and prestige as a world renowned author and a celebrated academic.
“When I build my house I shall make it very plain but at the same time very large… It will become a charming English place. I’m tired of cities and people. It’s a case of Goodbye, proud world, I’m going home. “
– Stephen Leacock
More than just a museum
In 1958, the City of Orillia opened the doors to the Stephen Leacock Museum, which was designated a National Historic Site in 1992. In addition to the Museum proper, the site offers a variety of experiences and services to visitors and residents.
Stephen Butler Leacock 1869 – 1944
He was born 30 December 1869 at Swanmore, county of Hampshire, England.
In 1876 he emigrated to Canada with his family and settled on a farm near the hamlet of Egypt, south of Sibbald Point on Lake Simcoe.
Leacock was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto. He completed a degree in modern languages at the University of Toronto in 1891.
Inspired by Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class, he enrolled at the University of Chicago, receiving a Ph.D. in political economy and political science under Veblen in 1903.
Concurrently he joined the Department of Economics and Political Science at McGill University, Montreal.
In 1906 he published his first and most profitable book: Elements of Political Science, a university textbook. Twenty-seven other books of non-fiction followed.
In 1908 he became head of his department at McGill, helped found the University Club and began developing Old Brewery Bay.
The first of his thirty-five books of humour, Literary Lapses was published in 1910. Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town followed in 1912 and in 1914 Arcadian Adventures of the Idle Rich.
Leacock was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1919 and in 1921 made an extensive lecture tour of the United Kingdom. In 1935 he received the Mark Twain Medal. He retired from McGill in 1936.
Stephen Butler Leacock died 28 March 1944 at Toronto from throat cancer and was buried, across the lake from Old Brewery Bay, in the Leacock family plot at St. George’s Church, Sibbald Point.