Stephen Leacock: The Sage of Orillia


79 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55022-155-8
DDC C818'.5207






Reviewed by Thomas M.F. Gerry

Thomas M.F. Gerry is an English professor at Laurentian University.


While Leacock has been the subject of much critical and biographical
attention, Doyle’s treatment is surprisingly fresh. While of necessity
he goes over much familiar ground, his reading of archival materials and
Leacock’s published writings yields an informative, balanced
introductory study.

Doyle deals with some of the puzzling and troubling aspects of
Leacock’s career, reframing these issues in contemporary terms while
at the same time maintaining their complexity, in part by leaving them
open-ended. For example, he raises questions about Leacock’s views of
women, and about his commitment to the “Anglo-Saxon” aspects of the
British Empire—what some might term a racist stance. Instead of
trashing Leacock, however, Doyle shows that Leacock’s views are
typical of Canadians of his day and milieu. It is up to the reader to do
further research and give further thought to the difficulties of
evaluating Leacock’s work in the light of these considerations.

Doyle also does an excellent job of presenting in such brief space a
credible view of Leacock’s temperament and working habits, his family
life, and his personae as popular professor at McGill, internationally
renowned public speaker, author of academic articles and books on
political science and economics, and, of course, creator of dozens of
books of humorous sketches. Although I would hesitate to go along
entirely with Doyle’s observation that Leacock was a “Canadian who
personifies the country in which he lived,” his rendering of the
connections between Leacock’s personal anxieties and his public
achievements is vividly evocative.


Doyle, James., “Stephen Leacock: The Sage of Orillia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024,