As already mentioned in my post from earlier today, this morning I “rescued” a number of books from the recycling pile in front of my local library branch. Many of these were clearly from a single donation, as they were inscribed with the same family name. Two of these were leather-bound presentation books, won in 1930. The bookplate gave the award information and piqued my curiousity. Fortunately for me, the recipient had thoughtfully inserted newspaper clippings pertaining to these awards–my Google-fu failed me.
Inscription as follows (recipient name omitted):
Ottawa Collegiate Institute 1930
Presented To [name here]
By Jessie Fisher
In memory of her husband
Harold Fisher, BA, LLB, KC
As A Prize
For an essay on a subject relating
to the city of Ottawa
The news clippings inside the two volumes were much more illuminating. Harold Fisher (yes, *that* Harold Fisher) was a city alderman before it became a paid position. When salaries were introduced, he did not feel entitled to the monies and used them instead to institute an award. Fisher purchased books which were then presented on an annual basis to the student who wrote the winning essay on a topic pertaining to municipal affairs. These awards continued through the 1920’s and 1930’s — maintained after his death in 1928 by his wife and then by the Board — ending around the beginning of the Second World War.
To quote an Ottawa native, “Isn’t it ironic?”
I think, perhaps, it is time to reinstitute this award. Maybe it can be overseen by the Ottawa Public Library. *cough cough*