Institutional Growth and Change

The Councils have funding woes

1955 - Uncertain funding for the councils

With its grants running out and federal funding yet to begin, both councils are without stable funding for basic administration and face the possibility of having to cut back on programs. However, the Rockefeller Foundation surprises them by providing a grant of up to $50,000 at the eleventh hour, with the caveat that the funds need to be matched dollar-for-dollar by Canadian sources for them to be made available. The Humanities Research Council of Canada is able to find these funds in large part through the help of Walter L. Gordon, chair of the Royal Commission on Canada’s Economic Prospects and future minister of finance. Mr. Gordon solicits numerous companies and individuals on behalf of the council and is able to provide $27,000 over 3 years to help keep them afloat. The aid to publications and research programs do not have to be cut back.

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HRCC 10th anniversary

1954 - 10th anniversary of the Humanities Research Council of Canada 

In celebration of their first ten years, the Humanities Research Council of Canada (HRCC) has former-Chairman Maurice Lebel publish a retrospective on their activities. He focuses his writing on just how much the council has been able to accomplish with so little funding. He concludes by restating the importance of the humanities to Canadian society and by praising the amount of work that has come so far: “Notre pays a beau être le paradis des industriels et des commerçants, il ne reste pas moins vrai que nous devenons de plus en plus conscients de notre héritage historique et culturel.”

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Recognizable names

1949 - Recognizable names

On February 26, John Robbins writes a letter recommending a young man named George Grant for a pre-doctoral fellowship. Grant later joins the Humanities Research Council of Canada (HRCC) on his way to becoming Canada’s pre-eminent philosopher. Marshall McLuhan receives a research grant around this same time, years before he gains international recognition for his analysis of television discourse and his famous observation that “the medium is the message.” Northrop Frye, the world-renowned literary theorist, sits on the HRCC’s Aid to Publications committee shortly after publishing his first major book. Along with Harold Innis, who had already made significant contributions to economics by the time he helped found the Canadian Social Science Research Council, these are some examples of Canada’s foremost academics being aided by or involved with the councils from an early stage.

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Funding the HRCC

1945 - Funding the Humanities Research Council of Canada

In 1945, the Humanities Research Council of Canada (HRCC) begins receiving small grants from universities across Canada to cover their basic operating costs, an option that the Canadian Social Science Research Council (CSSRC) has not pursued. In 1948, after the successful publication of The Humanities in Canada, both the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation award grants to the council to sustain it for the next few years, as they do for the CSSRC. However, the council knows that a more permanent and Canadian source of funding will be necessary to ensure its survival. The council must seek renewal or increase of these grants every couple of years.

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Founding of the HRCC

Dec. 29, 1943 - Founding of Humanities Research Council of Canada

After persuading the government not to restrict university studies in the humanities, some scholars feel they need a permanent body to speak for them. R.H. Coats, President of Section II of the Royal Society of Canada and Chairman of the Canadian Social Science Research Council, appoints a committee to investigate forming a Humanities Research Council of Canada (HRCC). On December 29, 1943, the council is founded. Watson Kirkconnell becomes chairman with sixteen scholars of “Classics, Orientals, English, French, other modern languages, Philosophy and History” rounding out the rest of the group and John Robbins acting as Secretary-Treasurer. While the all-male membership is concentrated in Ontario, every province save Prince Edward Island has at least one representative. Significantly, while the Canadian Social Science Research Council has been founded in...

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Founding of the CSSRC

September 16, 1940 - Founding of the Canadian Social Science Research Council (CSSRC)

Social scientists in Canada, chief among them Harold Innis, have been in talks for years about establishing a body to support scholarly research across the country. Finally, shortly after the start of the Second World War, the council is founded. R.G. Trotter was elected the first chairman, with representatives of the Canadian Historical Association, the Canadian Political Science Association, the Canadian Psychology Association and the Canadian delegation of the International Council of Geographers. Also represented are four members of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, along with John E. Robbins, also of the DBS, acting as Secretary-Treasurer. Funding for the council comes from two American organizations—the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation—both because of the Canadian government’s unwillingness to fund social science research and a desire on the...

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Early investigations

Spring 1938 - Committee on Research in the Social Sciences

Eager to create a more robust infrastructure for social scientists in Canada, a group of scholars led by Harold Innis, John Robbins, R.G. Trotter and R.H. Coats form a committee to research the state of affairs in the disciplines across the country. Each of the members writes a short report on the state of research in his field (the members were all men). The group uses that information, as well as consultations with Social Science Research councils in the UK and especially the United States, to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a council of their own, and the best methods for doing so. While the outbreak of the Second World War gives them some pause, they decide to continue with their efforts and begin organizing their new council.

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