Case 2a: Recognizing Achievement in Canadian Imaginative and Critical Literature

Lorne Pierce’s commitment to Canadian literature, both as creative endeavor and as object of literary study, was affirmed in 1924 when he proposed to the Royal Society of Canada that a medal be awarded annually recognizing “an achievement of special significance and conspicuous merit in imaginative or critical literature written in either English or French.” Pierce provided the funds necessary to sustain the award, which the Society subsequently named in his honour. The first recipient of the medal in 1926 should come as no surprise in this narrative: Charles G.D. Roberts. In 1964 the Royal Society changed to awarding the medal every second year.

Maquettes for the Lorne Pierce medals on loan from a private collection.

A fortnight after my return I left for Kingston & Ottawa. C & K. I officially presented my Canadiana to Queen’s. The president sent me a very kind letter & I shall treasure it. At Ottawa I completed arrangements for the Royal Society Medal. I have for a long time felt that the R.S.of C. should usurp more of the function of the French Academy in fostering & directing Canadian lit. I offered a medal & this has been accepted. They have also insisted upon my name being associated with the award & so it will be known as the Lorne Pierce Medal of the R.S. of C. This is a real honor as it couples my name with the highest literary honor of Canada.

Lorne Perce, August 9, 1924 Queen’s University Archives