TORONTO - He's won two Tony Awards, two Emmys and been nominated for an Oscar, among many other accolades.

But Canadian actor Christopher Plummer says being honoured by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is extra special because of its origins.

Plummer received the festival's newly created lifetime achievement award last night at a gala celebration.

Dozens of luminaries attended the splashy soiree, including actors Cynthia Dale, Brian Dennehy and Gordon Pinsent.

The 81-year-old Plummer said the honour was sweet and delightful because he's always considered Stratford a second home.

Des McAnuff, the festival's artistic director, said it was a "no-brainer" to give the inaugural honour to Plummer, noting he's a "national treasure."

Pinsent called Plummer a masterful actor who creates magic onstage.

Plummer made his debut at the Stratford festival in a 1956 production of "Henry the Fifth."

He's performed at the Stratford festival several times since and is slated to return next year with his one-man show, "A Word or Two."