About the Canada Program

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 Canadianist scholars across the social sciences and professional schools, dissertation research grants for Harvard graduate students, thesis research and travel funding for Harvard undergraduates, funding for Harvard faculty-hosted Canadian studies specialists, a vibrant seminar series of esteemed Canadian guest speakers, and an annual faculty 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.”

Professor Charmaine Nelson, professor of art history at McGill University, joins us as the 2017-2018 William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Professor Nelson will teach Oh Canada!: Exploring Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Canadian Art (fall, 2017) through the Committee on Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

Mireille Paquet and Paul May join us as the 2017-2018 William Lyon Mackenzie King Postdoctoral Fellows. Professor Paquet will teach Principles of Public Policy (spring, 2018) through the Department of Government. Professor May will teach Multiculturalism and Integration in Europe and Beyond (spring, 2018).

Professor Krishna Pendakur, professor of economics at Simon Fraser University, joined us as the 2016-2017 William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Professor Pendakur taught Consumer Demand Econometrics (fall, 2016) through the Department of Economics.

Paul May and Tom Ozden-Schilling, a recent graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were the 2016-2017 William Lyon Mackenzie King Postdoctoral Fellows. Professor May taught Multiculturalism and Integration in Europe and Beyond (spring 2017) through the Department of Sociology. And Professor Ozden-Schilling taught Technology and Politics in Native North America (spring 2017) through the Department of Anthropology.

Since 2008, the Canada Program has granted more than $800,000 in dissertation research funding to more than forty graduate students—some of whom are engaged in research concerning government, law, sociology, history, music, education, public health, and urban design—and nine undergraduate students, all of whom are known as Canada Research Fellows.

Eight student Canada Research Fellows will join the Program in 2017–2018, with fellows representing many schools and disciplines from the University. Research interests include the implicaitons of party development in Canada, the impact of Canadian-owned extraction sites in South America, the study of the Haitian and Mauritian diaspora in Canada, and multiculturalism and national identity in Canada.

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 1727 Cambridge Street.