Exactly a year from now we will begin a two-day festival where Stephen Leacock began his tour: in Thunder Bay, or Port Arthur and Fort William as it was (or they were) then. A “saganza”, by the way, is a stanza in a saga. This saga is in fact three sagas, unfolding in their distinctive ways in various places.
The first is the saga of Leacock’s 1936-37 Tour. Its first stanza appeared on this blog on September 22nd. You can scroll down to find it. The second is the just-beginning saga of our 2017 Re-Tour, unrolling day by day. The third is the multifarious saga of Stephen Leacock’s life, times and accomplishments, a very large saga that will take some time to recite.
In some future saganza I will explain why I think Stephen Leacock remains important. Many do not believe that he does, or that his importance if any is narrowly circumscribed. And perhaps it is if you take him out of context. But he was considered important in the context of his time and place. Our place is his place, and our time is proving to have some startling similarities. But more of that on some future occasion. Or possibly several of them.
What follows is the outline of our Re-Tour. The form of the whole Re-Tour is a “Litera-Tour”; its manifestation in each port of call is a “Leacock Litera-Tour Festival” or even perhaps a “Leacock Laughing Litera-Tour Festival” because whatever the substance of a Leacock appearance, laughing always came with it. So here we go, and if the whole idea appears laughable, well then, we’re off to a good start:
Friday and Saturday, October 20th and 21st, 2017: Launch Festival in Orillia. (Leacock set forth from Montreal and his route would have been via the CPR to Port Arthur. Orillia is on VIA Rail’s route (or rather Washago is) and has become the focal point for Leacockiana, being the place of his beloved summer home. For both these reasons we decided to start there.)
Monday and Tuesday, October 23rd and 24th: Thunder Bay
Wednesday, October 25th: Sioux Lookout (Leacock did not stop there, but nowadays the train does, and so will we, briefly)
Thursday to Sunday, October 26th to 29th: Winnipeg
Tuesday to Thursday, October 31st to November 2nd: Regina
Friday to Sunday, November 3rd to November 5th: Saskatoon
Tuesday to Friday, November 7th to November 10th: Edmonton
Saturday to Monday, November 11th to 13th: Calgary
Tuesday and Wednesday, November 14th to 15th: Medicine Hat
Saturday to Monday, November 18th to 20th: Vancouver
Wednesday to Saturday, November 22nd to 25th: Victoria
Monday and Tuesday, November 27th to 28th: back to Vancouver for the finale of the Re-Tour, as Leacock did.
We will be following Leacock’s footsteps as closely as train schedules allow, and spending about the same length of time in each place. Leacock made 32 appearances in his 10 ports of call; we expect to make about twice that many because we have formalized what must have been an important informal part of his tour. He was, after all, a celebrity, and would have been wined and dined, or more likely whiskeyed and dined, by prominent people in each of his ports of call. We do not expect the same, but will substitute what we are calling Leacock Talk Circles in the spaces between our performances. We will talk more about them, and about the other types of performance we have designed, in a subsequent saganza.
The next stage in our saga is to locate those organizations who hosted events or otherwise were Leacock’s partners in all his ports of call and ask them if they would like to be ours. We have already engaged the Leacock Museum and Leacock Associates in Orillia, and are delighted by their enthusiasm. We are working on events for that festival. We have also made contact with public libraries in all the other places, and are receiving most encouraging responses from them all, for which we are grateful.
As details emerge we will post them here, and in other places.