John Kenneth Galbraith, Dutton’s larger-than-life figure

Dutton-Dunwich area took some time to acknowledge one of their sons who left the farm to pursue success in the larger world.  While serving the JFK administration as ambassadour to India, John Kenneth Galbraith wrote The Scotch, presumably to avert the boredom of long diplomatic meetings.  

Take the book out of the library and give it a read.  You will understand why the locals were not amused.  Probably a little homesick, he wrote a very honest set of tales about his neighbours and community without disguising the characters.  Instead of using Dan Needles’ style of creating generic but instantly recognisable rural characters, he simply portrayed them exactly as he knew them.  

Well, he went on to have a monumental career as an economist, author, educator, and influencer. But story has it that the locals were slow to forgive.  But forgive they did when the library in his home town Dutton, Ontario was renamed the John Kenneth Galbraith Reference Library in honor of his attachment to the library and his contributions to the new building. Thankfully, they did not wait to do it posthumously.  

John Kenneth Galbraith (October 15, 1908 – April 29, 2006) died April 29, 2006, a number of months after a lovely renaming ceremony.

The John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award has also been created in his honour.      Posted by Mary Simpson.

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Read on for  The Chronicle’s report about the recent third annual award gala:

The Chronicle, “Galbraith Award gala honours writers”, Thursday, October 22, 2009, p. 3

The work of Canadian authors was celebrated at the third annual John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award Gala at the WEDS theatre in Dutton Oct. 17.

This year’s winner was Judy Millar from Nanimo B.C., for her short story ‘The Insomniac.’

Millar was unable to attend that evening, so one of the judges accepted the award on her behalf. The winner is awarded an engraved pewter medallion, a $2,000 cheque, and a copy of Alice Munro’s new book, ‘Too much happiness.’

A written acceptance speech from Judy Millar was read after she was announced the winner.

“John Kenneth Galbraith has been quoted as saying, ‘Modesty is a vastly overrated virtue.’ I love that he had a great sense of humour! I will take him at his word and say, immodestly, that I am proud of my short story,” said Millar. “Truly, he [Galbraith] was one of the brilliant minds of our time; to have my name linked in any way to his is a high, high, honour.”

Short stories for the John Kenneth Galbraith Literary award were accepted from all across Canada. Millar currently lives on Vancouver Island, but lived the first 50 years of her life in Kitchener, On. Millar’s winning entry is the story of a depressed man whose life unravels when he is unable to sleep. It is set in 1950’s southwestern Ontario, and is told from the perspective of his 10-year-old niece.

This year’s runner up was Chuck Lovatt from Carroll, Manitoba, for his story entitled, ‘Highway driving.’

The award gala opened with remarks from Jenny Phillips, co-chair of the Friends of Dutton-Dunwich.

“It warms my heart to see people come out for the old-fashioned art of writing and reading aloud,” said Phillips. “A good author has a great story to tell, with interesting characters that leaves you feeling satisfied in the end.”

The award was created to honor John Kenneth Galbraith, a Dunwich farmboy who went on to become an internationally acclaimed economist, ambassador and author. The Dutton library was also named in his honour.

To learn more about the John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award, visit www.johnkennethgalbraithliteraryaward.ca

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