The Canada Program, made possible by the William Lyon Mackenzie King endowment, presents rich intellectual opportunities for Canadian studies at Harvard: graduate and undergraduate courses offered by distinguished visiting Canadian scholars across the social sciences and professional schools, dissertation research grants for Harvard graduate students, thesis research and travel funding for Harvard undergraduates, a vibrant seminar series of esteemed Canadian guest speakers, and an annual faculty-led conference.

The endowment was established in 1967 following a campaign spearheaded by David Rockefeller, who wished to honor William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874–1950), a great friend of his father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. A Harvard graduate, Mackenzie King was deputy minister of labour in Canada when, in 1914, he was recruited as an industrial consultant tasked with brokering an agreement between management and labor workers at the Rockefeller-controlled Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. According to Harvard's Directory of Named Chairs, a dispute between management and labor had resulted in “a long, bitter and bloody strike against the company.” And, “[w]hile Rockefeller hoped King would help extricate his company from a labor dilemma which he believed had been badly handled, he had a larger purpose in urging the Rockefeller Foundation to use the Colorado situation as a means of recommending a plan of broad application to industrial relations generally.” King managed the situation, helped amend public perception of Rockefeller, and produced a book for the Foundation, Industry and Humanity (1918). After a time as industrial adviser to a number of American utility and extraction firms, King returned to Canadian politics, took leadership of the Liberal Party, and went on to serve Canada as prime minister for a collective twenty-two years.

In 1967, the president of the University of Toronto, Professor Claude T. Bissell, was named the first William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Bissell’s research assistant at the time was Michael Bliss, now a distinguished Canadian historian, author, and former University of Toronto professor. Their time at Harvard was, Bliss recently noted, “one of the happiest years of our lives.”

In 2013–2014, George Elliott Clarke, poet laureate of the City of Toronto and a professor of English at the University of Toronto, joins the Canada Program as the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Professor Clarke is appointed through Harvard’s Department of English and is teaching a fall undergraduate course, Black Like Who? and a spring graduate course, Black Epics of the Americas, while organizing the year’s seminar series and a faculty conference.

Jacob Remes, assistant professor and mentor of public affairs and history at the Metropolitan Center at State university of New York’s Empire State College is the named WLMK Research Fellow for 2013–2014. Professor Remes is appointed through the Department of History at Harvard and is teaching two courses: a fall 2013 proseminar, Readings on 19th and 20th Century Canada, and the spring 2014 conference course, Migration and Relations between Canada and the United States.

Since 2008, the Canada Program has granted more than $400,000 in dissertation research funding for twenty graduate students—some of whom are engaged in research concerning government, law, sociology, history, music, education, public health, and urban design—and eight undergraduate students, all of whom are known as Canada Research Fellows.

Ten student Canada Research Fellows will join the Program in 2013–2014, two of whom will receive full dissertation completion grants, with all fellows representing many schools and disciplines from the University. Research interests include: rural adaptability to climate instability and the plight of remote indigenous communities; health care delivery organizations in Canada and the United States; and the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.

Francine McKenzie, associate professor in the Department of History at Western University, Ontario, was the 2012–2013 William Lyon Mackenzie King Chair. Professor McKenzie was appointed through the Harvard University Department of History and taught two courses: Planning for Peace during the Second World War (fall 2012) and The Decolonization of Canada 1867–1967 (spring 2013).

Ben Herzog, formerly the Pierre Keller Postdoctoral Fellow in Transatlantic Relations at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, was the 2012–2013 William Lyon Mackenzie King Research Fellow. Dr. Herzog received his PhD in sociology from Yale University. While here, he offered two undergraduate courses, Nationalism and Society (fall 2012) and Democratic Citizenship in the Modern World (spring 2013).

The Canada Seminar, chaired by the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor, offers presentations by public figures, scholars, artists, and experts in various fields, and provides a forum for the lively exchange of ideas on a wide range of issues. Guest speakers of the seminar have included former Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, Hall of Fame hockey player and former Toronto Maple Leaf President Ken Dryden, Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, political philosopher Charles Taylor, and film director and producer Norman Jewison.

Helen Clayton is the program administrator. The Program offices are located at 1737 Cambridge Street.