Institutional Growth and Change

SSFC 50th anniversary

1990 - SSFC 50th anniversary

In the midst of continual lobbying activities, the Social Science Federation of Canada (SSFC) celebrates its 50th anniversary in 1990. To commemorate the occasion, the SSFC commissions Donald Fisher to write a history entitled The Social Sciences in Canada: 50 Years of National Activity by the Social Science Federation of Canada. Fisher succinctly describes the Federation's position on the 50th anniversary, “The key issues that face the Federation are much the same as the ones that faced the council in the 1940s: coordination, representation and independence.”

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Social Sciences and Humanities think about a merger

July 24, 1986 - January 17, 1987 - Talks between the CFH and SSFC about merging

In 1986, the Social Science Federation of Canada (SSFC) commissions a task force on funding of the federation in light of perpetual budget concerns. The task force recommends that the two secretariats merge to reduce costs and “eliminate duplication of activities.” Both federations conclude they will seriously consider merging if the task force provides clearer priorities. President Christian Pouyez writes in December 1986 that “I think, ideally, the Canadian academic community should not have three or four different Federations (i.e. SSFC, CFH, CFBS, etc…) but one ‘council of learned societies’ that would be supported by both the member associations and the universities. I am probably ‘dreaming in color’... but it is a proposition that deserves to be explored.”

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Funding the Social Science Federation

1986 - Task force on funding the Social Science Federation of Canada

The Social Science Federation of Canada (SSFC) and the Canadian Federation for the Humanities consistently faced funding woes throughout their existence. A July 1986 report from the task force on funding the SSFC concludes two major points: (1) the federations should increase their lobbying activities, and (2) the federations should consider an increase in membership fees. While members generally help the SSFC lobby for funding, reactions to increasing membership fees vary—some support the increase while others argue against it. 

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From research councils to federations

1977 - The councils become federations

In order to reduce confusion after the creation of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), both the Social Science Research Council of Canada (SSRCC) and the Humanities Research Council of Canada (HRCC) change their names. The SSRCC becomes the Social Science Federation of Canada in 1977 and the HRCC becomes the Canadian Federation for the Humanities in 1978. This change simply confirms the shift towards federalism that the two research councils had made nearly a decade earlier.

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Founding of SSHRC

June 1977 - Creation of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada

On December 2, 1976, Bill C-26 is introduced in Parliament to establish a new granting council to assume control of the Canada Council’s role in funding the new federations. For years, the Humanities Research Council of Canada (HRCC) and the Social Science Research Council of Canada (SSRCC) have been arguing, with input from their member associations, that funding for their disciplines should be handled by a body separate from the Canada Council. The creation of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is, in part, the result of that effort. With it comes the hope for the HRCC and SSRCC that their disciplines will receive more focused attention from the government. However, there are still issues to fight for. The process of appointing a president is slow and the recommendations of suitable academics given by SSRCC and...

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The councils become federated

1969 - The councils become federated

After the formation of the Canada Council, the two research councils have something of an identity crisis. With the “research” portion of their mandate mostly covered by another organization, the exact purpose of the councils is somewhat unclear. For this reason, and to combat the accusation that they were simply “self-perpetuating cliques” both the Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Social Science Research Council of Canada undergo changes to become more like federations of Learned Societies than the research councils they had been before. The exact makeup of the structures will change repeatedly, but continue to include the core concept of a General Assembly comprised of representatives from member organizations, an elected Executive Committee and an elected Board of Directors to oversee operations.

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HRCC 20th anniversary

May 26 1964 - 20th anniversary of the Humanities Research Council of Canada

In May 1964, the Humanities Research Council of Canada (HRCC) holds a celebration in Montréal to commemorate their very first meeting in the same place twenty years prior. Scholars from across the country are in attendance as speeches are delivered about the past, present and future of the council. J Ménard and J.R Daniells each present a poem about the history of the council. In a letter to the council to recognize the occasion, Prime Minister Pearson sums up the reason its continued existence is necessary: “For sure, in our world of 1964, a world that sometimes threatens to become addicted to technocracy, we need the humanities more than ever, so that the ‘culture’ of science will be counselled by the ‘culture’ of the humanities, for the peaceful benefit and betterment of mankind.” That same day, the council holds a symposium on the future of the...

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Expansion of the councils

1962 - Expansion of the councils

Both councils—the Social Science Research Council of Canada and the Humanities Research Council of Canada—introduce a new membership category, “corresponding member,” for university faculty. The idea is to maintain communication between either council and the universities, so that professors might be better acquainted with the work of the councils and the councils might better understand the academic community’s needs.

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Farewell to an essential figure

May 10, 1961 - John Robbins retires from the councils

John E. Robbins has been one of the instrumental members in the establishment and administration of the Social Science Research Council of Canada (SSRCC) and the Humanities Research Council of Canada (HRCC). He was present for the founding of both councils, and save for a short break in 1951, served as the Secretary-Treasurer for both councils until he retired in 1961 to become President of Brandon College. To honour those years of service, most of which had been as a volunteer, both councils hold a dinner for him at the University of Montréal. Dozens of former council members, foundation representatives and university officials are invited to give Robbins the send-off he deserved. Some members of the SSRCC want Robbins to stay on as Chairman, but ultimately the council held to its traditional policy of not allowing university presidents as members.

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Founding of the Canada Council

1957 - Founding of the Canada Council

With the founding of the Canada Council in 1957, the operations of both research councils shift. Now that the Canada Council is providing fellowships, scholarships and grants in aid of research to Canadian students and professors, the research councils need not do the same. Instead, they review applications for the Canada Council, linking scholars to the organization in an attempt to make sure that the best applicants receive funding. Aid to publications is still handled entirely by the research councils. With an increased workload, both councils are able to employ their secretary-treasurer, John Robbins, on a permanent basis. However, financially, things are still precarious, since now that the government is funding their activities, grants from the American foundations have mostly ceased. In order to avoid confusion with the new council, the Canadian Social Science Research Council renames...

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