TORONTO - Oscar winner and "Downton Abbey" star Maggie Smith is set to be feted by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Smith has been named the 2012 recipient of the theatre festival's legacy award, to be presented in Toronto on Sept. 10.

The prize honours Smith for the four seasons she spent at the southwestern Ontario festival, from 1976 to 1980

"Here in Stratford, Maggie Smith holds a special place in our hearts," Stratford artistic director Des McAnuff said in a statement.

"One of our festival's founding principles was that we should be a home for artists of international stature as well as for our own Canadian stars, a principle spectacularly embodied in the four seasons Dame Maggie spent with us between 1976 and 1980. Her performances on our stages made an immense contribution to our artistic legacy and are still treasured in the memories of all who experienced them."

He added that he has spoken to Smith recently and that she is looking forward to coming back to Canada.

Smith's roles at Stratford included Cleopatra in "Antony and Cleopatra," Rosalind in "As You Like It," Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing," Queen Elizabeth in "Richard III" and Lady Macbeth.

She won Academy Awards for her performances in 1969's "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" and 1978's "California Suite" and nominations for various other roles, including Robert Altman's 2001 film "Gosford Park."

Recently, Smith has been seen in the Harry Potter films and as the Dowager Countess in the TV smash "Downton Abbey." The latter role earned her an Emmy Award.