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 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, 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 noted, “one of the happiest years of our lives.”

Professor Elke Winter joins us in spring 2021 as the 2019–2020 William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Dr. Winter is a professor of sociology at the University of Ottawa. 

Katie Mazer and Troy Vettese join us as the 2020–2021 William Lyon Mackenzie King Postdoctoral Fellows. Professor Mazer teaches the undergraduate seminar, “Enclosure and extraction: Land, resources, and colonialism in Canada and in the United States” (spring 2021) through the Department of Government. 

Since 2008, the Canada Program has granted more than $1,200,000 in dissertation research funding to more than 100 graduate students—some of whom are engaged in research concerning government, law, sociology, history, music, education, public health, and urban design—and thesis support for undergraduate students, all of whom are known as Canada Research Fellows.

Twelve student Canada Research Fellows join the program in 2020–2021, with fellows representing the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Design, the Law School, and the College. 

Helen Clayton is the program administrator. The program offices are located at 1727 Cambridge Street.

Related Links

Visiting Faculty

Administration