Safety risks at fraternities and sororities should remain a concern for the city

Re: “New city proposals to tackle issues with Greek life residences”

Safety risks at fraternities and sororities should remain a concern for the city

There are safety risks in the Greek life community that must be resolved. After years of unsafe practices at fraternities and sororities, and numerous complaints from their neighbours, recent proposals by the City of Toronto aim to resolve these safety concerns and help rebuild bridges between the two parties. Three of the six proposed solutions involve establishing open dialogue between Greek life community members and their neighbours, including holding meet-and-greets and assembling call lists of influential Greek life community members whom the public can contact.

These proposals are the result of an open letter penned by Ward 20 councillor Joe Cressy that suggested that Greek houses should be shut down if they fail to secure multi-tenant housing licenses. Concerns voiced by individuals and their respective resident housing associations are at the forefront of this inquiry.

Incidents over the years have become increasingly hard to ignore, from drug busts and house fires to stabbings and sexual assaults, as previously reported by The Varsity.

Many people likely assume that Greek houses are overseen by the University of Toronto, but they typically operate with minimal supervision and without any formal ties to the university. The activities at these houses, however, do affect the university, including the student residents of these houses and the many students their events attract. As such, it is vital that student safety be secured.

One solution, it seems, is to increase by-law officer patrols and thereby upgrade supervision during peak hours in the community. However it is not clear if the city can afford to reallocate resources to monitoring these parties. Moreover, residents of Greek houses should not have to passively accept inappropriate or dangerous behaviour from their peers.

The conflict appears to have been exacerbated by a lack of communication; the Interfraternity Council, which represents a majority of the fraternities on campus, has voted that no individual house may speak to the press, preventing members from publicly making or defending themselves against complaints. While Greek communities may be valued by students and help them feel like they belong at the university, the behaviour of certain members of Greek organizations, as well as the safety risks associated with their housing situations, cannot be ignored.

Anastasia Pitcher is a first-year student at New College studying Life Sciences.

City proposes solutions for conflict between Greek life community, residence associations

Executive Council poised for decision on Greek house licensing

City proposes solutions for conflict between Greek life community, residence associations

The city’s review of multi-tenant housing regulations, which encompasses fraternity and sorority houses surrounding U of T, has opened up a rift between the residences of these houses and the communities that surround them. The outcome has been a six-month-long deliberation process at City Hall between students in Greek life housing and their neighbours regarding changes to the way these multi-tenant houses are licensed.

Issues of excessive partying, lewd behaviour, and improper garbage disposal have been raised by members of housing associations around the U of T campus, with local residents citing problems such as “numerous fires” and “numerous sexual assaults” occurring at nearby fraternities.

In a recent public meeting, city staff presented six possible solutions to provide the public with a general idea of what could be suggested in January and then voted upon in February, when the Executive Council meets.

The six solutions

The first solution is one that was initially proposed in a letter from Ward 20 Councilor Joe Cressy in early June: that fraternities and sororities should no longer be exempted from the housing regulations that all other multi-tenant buildings are required to follow. This suggestion is what first sparked the debate over the status of these houses in September. It is believed that for fraternity and sorority houses to be fully compliant with multi-tenant housing regulations, they would have to fundamentally change their operations, putting their continued existence in jeopardy.

Decades of tension between fraternities — more so than sororities — and surrounding residents have come to light from residences in the neighbourhoods that surround frats and sororities in the wake of Cressy’s letter.

This tension has spawned a few of the proposed solutions, which directly target the relationship between Greek life residences and their neighbours. Three of these solutions are community-led meet and greets with Greek house residents, proactive community outreach to fraternities and sororities before school starts, and the establishment of a community working group consisting of both Greek and non-Greek residents to help bridge the gap and improve communication between the two groups.

Along the lines of communication, another proposed solution is creating a contact list within the neighbourhood so that residents have a number to call to voice their complaints.

The last of the solutions is the establishment of proactive enforcement of bylaws within the area during peak times of activity. One major concern for this solution is that the city may lack the resources for full enforcement. In addition, according to a comment made during a public consultation reported by Toronto Community Houses, “many fraternities and sororities are dry and/or have education on alcohol and housing.”

Speaking to stakeholders

University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Vice-President External Anne Boucher was initially skeptical of Cressy’s original proposal, stating that it appeared to have the intention of slowly removing fraternity and sorority houses from the city. However, Boucher said she was repeatedly met with the assurance that the city is simply looking to ensure that Greek houses are safe and regulated.

Boucher said she was presented with a detailed presentation of the licensing change and is convinced that the proposal truly aims to improve the safety of Greek housing. She wrote that “this change specifically would not harm the operation of Greek houses.”

Boucher said that while some of the other solutions look to solve long-standing residential grievances such as noise complaints, they fail to really address how Greek houses could be made safer.

The Annex Residence Association’s David Harrison highlighted the long-standing tension between Greek houses and their neighbours, saying that “clearly, the Greek group didn’t see any need for change to their status or additional rules and regulations.” He insisted that the residents he represents find the enforcement of some form of regulation on Greek housing to be the most pressing solution.

City staff will develop a summary of consultations in a report to the Executive Committee in early 2018.

The Inter-Fraternity Council, which represents the majority of U of T fraternities, declined The Varsity’s request for comment.

The U of T Panhellenic Association, which represents the majority of U of T sororities, did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment.

Noble goals with limited scope

Proposed bylaw changes for fraternities and sororities will not effectively address concerns about noise or waste management

Noble goals with limited scope

Earlier this year, backed by a number of community residents’ associations, Councillor Joe Cressy called for fraternity and sorority houses in the City of Toronto to be regulated as multi-tenant properties. This would mean that fraternity and sorority houses, including those on U of T’s campus, would need a license to operate, a move that requires adherence to city codes and bylaws.

Cressy believes that this change will help fraternities and sororities become better neighbours. However, while changes to regulation may resolve concerns about health and safety, it will take more to lessen the negative impact fraternity and sorority houses may have on the neighbourhood at large.

Being designated as a multi-tenant property would force frat and sorority houses to abide by health and safety requirements, including property bylaws about waste disposal and the regulations outlined in the Ontario Fire Code. To maintain their housing license, fraternities and sororities would be required to pass an annual inspection by Toronto Fire Services and Municipal Licensing and Standards. Any violations would result in a financial penalty.

Currently, there is no way for the city to ensure the safety of those living and frequenting these buildings. Licensing would allow the city to make sure that students do not suffer the consequences of poor building maintenance. Although serious fires or building accidents have yet to be reported, we shouldn’t wait for these incidents to go viral before doing anything to prevent them.

At the same time, though a multi-tenant housing license might be helpful for improving property maintenance, it won’t do much to address issues on noise and waste, which are a major source of complaints from other residents. Out of the 16 known frats and sororities on campus, there have been a total of 20 noise investigations related to their properties within the last two years. Coupled with 27 investigations about waste over the same period, it’s a total of 47 city investigations since 2015. Only 14 of all investigations have resulted in orders to comply by the city.

Unfortunately, the changes being proposed do not address issues outside of property maintenance, meaning a multi-tenant housing license won’t spur fraternities and sororities to more effectively govern their behaviour in these cases.

There is also a case to be made that bylaws are an ineffective way of governing behaviour in the first place. According to its recent review on multi-tenant housing, the city believes that existing bylaws are “sufficiently” effective. Recent data on the frequency of complaints against fraternity and sorority houses — and their lackluster resolutions — shows otherwise.

As of late, one fraternity house at 157 St. George Street has had 14 noise and waste investigations in the past two years, with two happening on consecutive days this September. Another house at 152 St. George Streethas had nine investigations, and a third house at 180 St. George Street has had eight. This assortment of complaints and investigations have only brought forth eight notices to comply.

Statements from residents also reflect concerns about enforcing long-term regulations. As community resident David Sterns wrote in a letter to Mayor John Tory, “Toronto fraternities successfully defeated an attempt to remove their rooming house by-law exemption in 2011 by stating their desire to work with neighbours… As soon as the threat of regulation ended, any talk of working with neighbours ended and things quickly went back to the way they were.”

Certainly, this isn’t reflective of all fraternities and sororities on campus, many of which comply with regulations. However, it appears the current system for dealing with noise and waste concerns is ineffective in a number of cases, as the high frequency of complaints has persisted.

The power of orders to comply from the city is not a strong enough deterrent for noisy and messy behaviour. Any improvement in the way the city handles these complaints won’t come solely from a housing license.

The city, community, and students will have to work together to resolve the issues that the proposed regulations cannot fix on their own. For starters, the city should not rely on self-governance on the part of fraternities and sororities; consistent community inspections on the part of bylaw officers, as well as prompt and efficient city responses to noise or waste complaints, are necessary. Moreover, a strike system could be imposed, in which houses with three or more notices by the city will have to face severe financial penalties. These changes will help ensure that students are really cleaning up their act.

Multi-tenant licensing is certainly a good start but the issues at stake are multifaceted, and it will take more than a single solution to resolve them.

Andrea Tambunan is a first-year student at University College studying Life Sciences.

The Breakdown: the origins of Greek life on campus

A brief history

The Breakdown: the origins of Greek life on campus

Greek life at U of T has recently become the focus of attention in the campus community following an open letter penned by City Councillor Joe Cressy calling for fraternity and sorority houses to be properly regulated as multi-tenant houses. The coverage has since brought into question the Greek’s relationship to U of T. Here, we break it down.

In 1879, Zeta Psi, an established American fraternity, started the world’s first non-American chapter at U of T. Kappa Alpha Society opened a Toronto chapter in 1892, and Alpha Delta Phi in 1893. The first Canadian female ‘fraternity’ was Kappa Alpha Theta, organized in 1887. The first Black fraternity at U of T, Alpha Phi Alpha, was established in 1908 and had two members on record, although the fraternity closed its chapter two years later.

The relationship between U of T and these Greek letter organizations began early on, starting in 1899 when a residence in the west wing of University College was closed due to financial issues, prompting U of T to use fraternities for student housing. Loans, favourable interest rates, and long-term land leases were given to various chapters. In 1901, Kappa Alpha leased the land known today as Massey College for $1 a year in a long-term contract with the school. By 1927, U of T was host to a reported 42 chapters, compared to 23 at McGill University in the same year. In 1959, U of T expropriated several fraternity-occupied properties on lower St. George Street, leading to their relocation north to today’s Annex neighbourhood.

Currently, two societies govern Greek life at U of T: the National Panhellenic Council, which recognizes seven sororities, and the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC), which represents 10 fraternities. Among these fraternities is Delta Upsilon, which is self-identified as being uniquely “non-secret.”

The individual houses tend not to provide media outlets with comment because, as IFC President Sam Jenison explained, the IFC voted that no individual house is allowed to talk to the press.

The current relationship, or lack thereof, between U of T and Greek letter organizations is also elusive to non-members. In an account of the University of Toronto’s history, author Martin L. Friedland reveals that after 1960, when a Black female student was denied entry into a sorority, U of T formally dissociated itself from Greek organizations based on their exclusivity.

This dissociation continues today. The university’s Director of Media Relations Althea Blackburn-Evans said in a recent Varsity article that the university does not recognize fraternities or sororities as campus groups “because they’re not open to everybody who wishes to join.” In his conversation with The Varsity, Jenison confirmed U of T’s dissociation, writing, “We don’t work under ULife and we have no affiliation with U of T.”

Students are residents, too

When discussing municipal issues that affect residents and the community, students should be included in the dialogue

Students are residents, too

An ‘us-versus-them’ mentality remains pervasive in discussions about city development projects. As reflected in the actions of some neighbourhood associations and city councillors, the relationship between residents and university students appears to be one of tension. At times, their interests are constructed as mutually exclusive.

Despite this dynamic, U of T and its students have been around longer than the residential neighbourhoods that surround them. Many students call neighbourhoods like the Annex and Harbord Village home and are integral citizens of these communities. City planners and councillors need to consider the interests of student residents when making planning decisions that affect them. Likewise, more students should take an active role in making it clear what their interests are.

In the latest chapter in student-city relations, Ward 20 Councillor Joe Cressy, heads of the Annex Residents’ Association, the Bay Cloverhill Community Association, the Grange Community Association, the Harbord Village Residents’ Association, and the Huron Sussex Residents’ Organization are all pushing to get the City of Toronto to remove the licensing exemption that lets fraternity and sorority houses operate without having to be licensed as multi-tenant residences.

It is true that students involved in Greek life need to be good neighbours, and complaints of poor property management, noise, and sexual assaults should be addressed. However, the proposal that Cressy and the residents’ associations have put forward would only affect property regulations and would do nothing to address behavioural complaints. Ultimately, whatever regulations that come about should be developed in consultation with U of T students: Greek and non-Greek.

Removing the exemption fraternities and sororities currently operate under could also affect student co-operative housing. Like Greek houses, student co-ops are also exempt from multi-tenant residence licensing and play a vital role in a city where affordable housing is scarce.

The lack of affordable housing around campus, despite its growing student population, has prompted U of T to pursue the construction of new residences throughout the years. Many of these projects have been met with opposition from residents’ associations in the spirit of ‘Nimbyism.’

Based on the acronym for ‘not in my backyard,’ Nimbyism often spurs residents to condemn development projects scheduled to take place near where they live, even if the changes being proposed would benefit the community as a whole.

Back in 2012 and 2013, various residents’ associations opposed the construction of the 24-storey Campus One residence at College and Spadina. Concerns were raised that the building would cast large shadows and that it wouldn’t fit in with the style of the rest of the neighbourhood.

Most recently, U of T proposed a student residence on the corner of Spadina Avenue and Sussex Avenue. The Harbord Village Residents’ Association opposed this project, as it would result in the demolition of a building that has been around since 1885. The case will be heard by the Ontario Municipal Board; taking feedback from consultation into consideration, City of Toronto staff is siding with the residents’ association.

One might think students should play an active role in voicing their opinions on campus projects. Yet at public consultation meetings and City Hall deputations where these issues are discussed, it is rare to see anyone under the age of 30, with the exception of the occasional University of Toronto Students’ Union executive.

In the past, good things have come about when students worked in tandem with the city and with residents’ associations. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, residents’ associations and student activists were successful in lobbying the provincial government to stop the construction of the Spadina Expressway. Had the proposed highway been built, it would have extended from today’s Allen Road to the northwest corner of the St. George campus. The province would have had to tear down Casa Loma, some campus buildings, and large portions of the Annex. To this effect, students took part in demonstrations and participated in deputations.

Today, students are too often sidelined from the conversation when it comes to municipal issues. City planners and councillors need to understand that students are members of the communities in question, and therefore that they should listen to students’ opinions on matters that affect the areas around campus.

In addition, more students should take an active role in lobbying for the issues they care about. This is ultimately our community: we all study on campus, and many of us live and work in the surrounding areas. Voicing concerns at consultation meetings or contacting city councillors will help ensure students play a role in shaping Toronto’s development — preferably before the pylons come out.

Three times at the Kappa Alpha Luau

A third-year student explains how he’s changed — and how he hasn’t — through the lens of an annual frat party

Three times at the Kappa Alpha Luau

I arrived at U of T a mere four days prior to the perennially-named 69th Annual Luau. One of my orientation leaders told me about the annual luau, held at the Kappa Alpha Literary Society (KA), which everyone who was anyone would apparently be attending.

Immediately, a few questions came to mind. One: what is the difference between a literary society and a frat? Two: is this a genuine celebration of Hawaiian culture? And three: will there be alcohol?

I was in the same boat as the other first-year students surrounding me, yet I felt as though I was having a more difficult time making friends and connecting with people. It took me a while to feel like I was part of the U of T community — mostly, I just felt weird and uncomfortable. So, needless to say, I had a strange time at the luau.

I spent most of the night standing against a wall, switching off between beer and a vile concoction of beer mixed with Red Bull. I tried to engage in small talk with others but couldn’t shake off my feeling of discomfort. Apparently my discomfort was palpable, since the same orientation leader who had told me about the luau approached me and started talking to me.

“Are you having a good time?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Do you want to leave?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

My second time at the luau was a different type of uncomfortable, given that I can’t remember the event itself very clearly. Going into second year, I felt that I had shown a significant amount of growth. New year, new me. I wanted to build my confidence and prove that I had changed from the awkward and overly emotional mess I was in first year.

But the night ended with me crying over a failed relationship on the front lawn of KA with one of my friends. At least I had friends this time, right?

Despite two years of bad luaus, my tradition of attending prevailed. I knew that, given my past experiences, there was a good chance I would have a bad time again, but what I also realized was that I had never had a bad time because of the event itself, but rather because of my personal circumstances during the event. I had endowed the luau with the symbolic importance of signifying my growth over the year as a human being.

I wanted to become a happier person, to feel more comfortable around others, and to mature into the person I knew I would eventually become. Mostly, I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to feel like I was becoming the best version of myself. Maybe that’s too much significance to place on a frat party, but there I was doing it anyway.

My third time at the luau was a more positive endeavour, though not by much. Was anything about my life perfect this time? Absolutely not. I’d had a moment of weakness earlier that day and ended up sitting at home crying, journaling, and drinking copious amounts of wine. Somehow, though, I managed to resolve my bad mood in time to enjoy a night out with my friends.

Like many, I fall into the trap of setting expectations for my personal development rather than letting it happen organically. I wanted to reach a goal but ignored the steps it would take to get there. It’s impossible to reach a place of total self-confidence overnight. Hell, it’s impossible to reach it after two years.

Letting go of my anxieties about my lack of confidence was something I thought I would have figured out by my third year, although I’m not completely there yet. But I’m doing better than I was before, and that’s something worth celebrating.

We’re often striving for a state of equilibrium where everything is fine and we have everything worked out, but that’s not how the world works. We’ll always have conflicts, both external and internal, that we need to struggle through.

I maintain that, for those of us struggling with mental illness, being happy is the most difficult thing to do. I suppose the point is to keep trying, keep learning from your experiences, and, despite the universe telling you not to, keep heading to the KA luau.

Annex residents speak out against fraternities

“Numerous fires, numerous drug issues, and numerous sexual assaults” among cited issues

Annex residents speak out against fraternities

Fraternity and sorority housing may face significant licensing requirements changes by the end of the month. As The Varsity previously reported, the city’s Executive Committee will review whether or not to remove the multi-tenant housing licensing exemption from fraternity and sorority houses. If the change proposed by Ward 20 Councillor Joe Cressy is approved, then Greek houses around U of T may be shut down if they do not successfully secure a multi-tenant housing license.

Residents push for action

Cressy’s move to have the Executive Committee address the role of fraternities and sororities came on June 5, and it was supported by letters from the heads of the Annex Residents’ Association, Bay Cloverhill Community Association, Grange Community Association, Harbord Village Residents’ Association, and the Huron Sussex Residents’ Organization.

Following repeated incidents going unpunished, Sterns wrote a letter to Mayor Tory about the issue on June 15. The letter listed several cases of inappropriate conduct on behalf of the fraternity houses residing in the Annex, including a police raid confiscating over $125,000 worth of drugs in 2008, the death of a young man who fell from a window of Beta Theta Pi fraternity house in 2013, and the stabbing of three people outside of a frat party in 2015.

Following the 2011 decision, Sterns expressed skepticism of any more collaborative promises on behalf of fraternities and sororities, and urged the Mayor to support Cressy’s efforts to get rid of the licensing exemption.

The Executive Committee will address the situation on September 26; executives from the University of Toronto Students’ Union are expected to speak.

Greeks dodge licensing in 2011

Former Ward 20 City Councillor Adam Vaughan advocated for the removal of fraternity and sorority houses’ licensing exemption back in 2011 for reasons similar to Cressy’s. “The idea is simply to find a way to say to the ones that are holding parties at 4 o’clock in the morning where they’re peeing on people’s cars and doing all kinds of bizarre stuff in the parks, could you just please get on with your neighbours?” Vaughan told the National Post in 2011. “Find a way to help us help you grow up.”

There were certain obstacles that Vaughan faced in accomplishing this task, though, laid out in the staff report requested by the Licensing and Standards Committee at the time.

Specifically, there were two hindrances that kept the committee from bringing forward a licensing proposal. The first was that, according to the staff report, the city “does not have the authority to license people or organizations purely on the basis of their affiliation,” meaning that since a fraternity or sorority does not fall specifically under one classification, it is difficult to define how it should be licensed.

The second reason was that licenses cannot limit the behaviour of tenants. While a license would require the building to be fully up to code, issues that may arise related to behaviour would not be regulated.

Vaughan met representatives of the fraternities and sororities at the time and attempted to establish a collaborative system, as recommended in the staff report, resulting in the Joint Working Group meant to address neighborhood complaints. The working group took the approach of allowing fraternity and sorority houses to rely upon their organizations for regulation and enforcement, as fraternities and sororities have rules for any affiliated chapters. Despite this, complaints continue to be filed to the Annex Residents’ Association, and residents say they have had a hard time getting in touch with anyone of influence in the fraternity community.

Concerned residents speak to The Varsity

Permanent residents of the Annex — the neighbourhood home to many of the Greek life houses in Toronto — have expressed concerns about noise pollution, littering, and general disturbances coming from fraternities much more so than sororities.

David Harrison, chair of the Annex Residents’ Association, said that they “get a steady stream of complaints from neighbours of the Fraternities. There are three or four frequent offenders. The Sororities are generally much better behaved.”

Rita Bilerman, a resident of the Annex for 11 years, said she has had multiple experiences dealing with fraternities. Bilerman alleged there have been “numerous fires, numerous drug issues, and numerous sexual assaults” attributed to fraternities in the time she’s lived in the Annex. She said she is concerned that if the houses are allowed to continue on as they are, there is the potential for real tragedy. She recounted stories of fraternity members sitting atop the roofs of houses, daring each other to run naked past oncoming traffic, and passing out on her front yard.

In addition, Bilerman has kids — the oldest of which is a high school student. She said that fraternity houses in the area have invited her son to parties, and, according to Bilerman, plenty of high school students attend these parties, some of which she claimed serves alcohol to minors.

Mayor Tory’s office is refraining from commenting on the issue until the full staff report is completed.

The Inter-Fraternity Council, a representative body of 10 fraternities around U of T, declined The Varsity’s request for comment.

Data compiled by Tom Yun

Brothers of the arts

Some of Canada’s most critically acclaimed artists have emerged from U of T’s fraternities

Brothers of the arts

These days, ‘frat boy’ is a term often associated with Sperry’s, Polo or Ray-Bans, and they’re often characterized as being rowdy or obnoxious. For nearly two centuries, however, many of U of T’s fraternity men have made meaningful contributions to nearly every area of social development.

The Varsity looked at some of the artists to emerge from U of T’s fraternities, whose works are noted for their enduring influence and the forming of a uniquely Canadian artistic output.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (Zeta Psi, Theta Xi chapter 1894):

Founded in 1879, Zeta Psi is the original fraternity at U of T. Located at the northwest corner of St George and Prince Albert, male students of distinguished talents were drawn to this community due in part to its reputation for cultivating leadership. One of those men was a student at University College who had won a scholarship to attend U of T, John McCrae.

McCrae excelled in biology, received his bachelor of medicine in 1898, and finally became a doctor of medicine in 1910. It is not his aptitude for medicine that McCrae is remembered for, but rather his poetic and literary expertise. “His poems, all admirable in their workmanship and concentration, distinctively original in structure and in form, educational in their rigid economy of words and finely displayed appreciation of word values, strong, true-ringing and purposeful,” describes a 1918 article published in The Toronto News. McCrae would become a casualty of war. He died on January 28, 1918, but his legacy lives on through his poem “In Flanders Fields.”

Lawren Harris (Delta Kappa Epsilon, Alpha Phi chapter 1904):

Lawren Harris attended U of T between 1903 and 1904. During his time here, he became a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, a fraternity founded in 1898.

His artistic talents were quickly recognized by a professor who suggested he may do well to study art in Europe. After travelling until 1910, he returned to Toronto and spent much of his time studying and sketching various neighbourhoods in the city.

The Ontario Heritage Trust notes that he had a particular fascination with landscapes and was influenced by “urban realism, landscape regionalism, and theosophy, a transcendental, mystical school of thought” as well as a desire for “developing a distinctly Canadian art.” In the years following, he continued to innovate and experiment, eventually founding the Group of Seven.

The artist collective travelled all over the country depicting Canadian landscapes through a modernist lens. On his artistic philosophy, Harris stated, “with us in Canada, painting is the only art that so far has achieved a clear native expression and so the forming of distinctive attitude, the creative direction of the genius of our people and their higher aspirations are to be detected within it.”

Stephen Leacock (Zeta Psi, Theta Xi chapter 1891):

Another brother of Zeta Psi, Stephen Leacock was integral to the early development of a Canadian literary voice. He studied modern languages, and received his BA in 1891. He had published several scholarly works and was well known in academic circles. It wasn’t until Leacock began to write fiction that he would compose his most famous work. Likely set in the town of Orillia, just north of Toronto, Leacock wrote Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town in 1912. The collection of short stories features reoccurring characters living in the fictional Canadian town of Mariposa. Leacock chronicles the humorous and sometimes outrageous exploits of its citizens. The work masterfully captures the essence of the archetypal Canadian town and the colourful characters that reside within it. It became one of the first works to satirize the subject and has since become a celebrated work of Canadian fiction. Even after his success, and having spent 36 years teaching at McGill, Leacock’s fondness for his alma mater never diminished.