History of the Margaret Laurence Lecture Series
The Margaret Laurence Lecture is an annual lecture in honour of Margaret Laurence, organized by the Gender & Social Justice Department, and funded by a combination of a generous endowment from the Bennett Family Foundation and matching funds from the Canadian Studies Directorate, Heritage Canada (formerly the Canadian Studies Programs, Secretary of State). The founding Chair of the Gender and Women's Studies Department, Prof. Christl Verduyn was instrumental in helping to raise the matching funds which now constitutes the funding base for the lectures. This annual lecture honours Trent's fourth chancellor, and acknowledges her contributions to literature, feminism, ecology, and the peace movement. Margaret Laurence lived in nearby Lakefield.
The establishment of this lecture funding was announced by former President Donald Theall in a memo to the University's Senate on 14th May 1987. The first lecture was held in the 1987/88 academic year. The inaugural Margaret Laurence Lecture was delivered on Thursday, 10 March 1988 at 8:00pm by writer Adele Wiseman, long time friend and colleague of Margaret Laurence to open the "Tribute to Margaret" which was organized by the Chair of English Department (Prof. Orm Mitchell) and Chair of Canadian Studies Department (Prof. John Wadland) to honour her memory.
The Canadian Studies Department at Trent generously offered to assume the expenses involved in bringing the first Margaret Laurence speaker to Trent as the funds proceeding from the Bennett foundation were not operational before 1988-89. The original poster for the tribute and the lectures was designed by the famous Canadian artist, Harold Town who was a friend of Margaret Laurence. This lecture is intended to bring a distinguished speaker to Trent to address a topic related to Laurence's interests (in particular peace, ecology, literature, and feminism). Traditionally, a dinner with invited guests from the university and the community precedes the lecture, and a free public reception follows.
The Margaret Laurence Lecture Committee is responsible for advertising for nominations selecting and inviting the speaker, and for making all necessary arrangements for the speaker's visit including arranging accommodation and advertising the lecture, dinner and reception arrangements to name a few. The Committee originally consisted of the Chairs (or delegates) of Gender and Women's Studies (Chair of the Committee), Canadian Studies, Environmental Resource Studies, English, Project Ploughshares and Trent Student Pugwash.
Check out the full list of speakers who have delivered the Margaret Laurence Lecture.