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Title: Literary Award - National Award in Letters
Identifier: 2003.3.4
Donor: Bianca de la Roche
Item Date: 1951
Image Creator: Museums of Mississuaga
Creation Date: 2005
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: Medal [a] has a smooth edge and a narrow band around the margin. Inside the margin is written 'Presented to Mazo de la Roche. The Banff School of Arts, July 6, 1951'. The reverse has raised letters which say, 'University of Alberta. National Award in Letters'. The centre of the medal has a relief of an open book with a feather lying across the book's open page. Surrounding them are laurel leaves. The box is royal blue velvet with the inside of the lid [b] lined in white satin and the Birks emblem with the name and symbol in blue. The base of the box [c] is removable, made with cardboard, and covered with blue velvet and a white ribbon pull-tag.

History: Medal was presented to Mazo de la Roche July 6, 1951. 'Birks' was a prestigious Canadian Jewelry company, which was quite prosperous up until the 1990's. The National Award in Letters became the Banff School of Fine Arts National Award in 1980. The award was presented in recognition of Canadians who made a significant contribution to the development of the arts in Canada.

This artifact belonged to Mazo de la Roche and/or her life long companion, Caroline Clement. In 1927, Mazo de la Roche’s (1879-1961) novel ‘Jalna’ won the $10,000 first prize in a competition sponsored by ‘Atlantic Monthly’, which provided her with international recognition and success in the future. Mazo de la Roche is significant to Mississauga as she lived in Clarkson during the time she wrote her award winning novel, 'Jalna'. Mazo lived in Trail Cottage, which was located on property that had originally belonged to the Benares Estate. Some people speculate the Benares House was Mazo’s inspiration for the ‘Whiteoaks' of Jalna. Mazo was friends with the Harrises and had visited Benares. She was born in Newmarket as Mazo Louise Roche. She was the only child of Albert and William Roche. Mazo died on 12 July 1961. See: C.J. Taylor, 'de la Roche, Mazo' ‘Canadian Encyclopaedia, 2000 Edition’ (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999), 639.

Artifacts donated by Bianca de la Roche, third wife of the adopted son of Mazo de la Roche, René. These items belonged to Mazo and/or her companion and cousin, Caroline Clements. René was adopted in England by Mazo in 1931 and died in 1984.
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