Molson Prize

The Molson Prize recognizes outstanding achievement in the arts, humanities and social sciences, and is “intended to encourage continuing contributions to the cultural and intellectual heritage of Canada.” It is administered jointly by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Two prizes of $50,000 are awarded each year: one in the arts, and one in the humanities and social sciences.

The Molson Prize recognizes outstanding achievement in the arts, humanities and social sciences, and is “intended to encourage continuing contributions to the cultural and intellectual heritage of Canada.” It is administered jointly by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Two prizes of $50,000 are awarded each year: one in the arts, and one in the humanities and social sciences.


Background

The award was initially created to encourage and recognize outstanding contributors to the arts, humanities, social sciences or national unity. Originally presented as a $15,000 award in 1964, the prize was increased to $25,000 in 1982 and to $50,000 in 1983. It is funded by the interest on a $1 million endowment given to the Canada Council by the Molson Foundation (seeJohn Molson;Molson Coors Brewing Company). Four prizes were presented in 1982 to celebrate the Canada Council's 25th anniversary. Beginning in 1983, the number of awards was fixed at two per year: one in the arts, and one in the social sciences and humanities.

Eligibility and Nomination Process

Candidates must be nominated by either an individual or an organization. Only Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada are eligible, though they do not need to be residing in Canada. Eligible candidates must have made “a substantial and distinguished contribution over a significant period” and still be actively involved in their field. The prize is not a lifetime achievement or an “end of service” award; recipients are typically at the peak of an outstanding career.

The eligibility terms also stipulate that: a) no individual may be awarded the prize more than once; b) corporations and other organizations are not eligible; c) the prize cannot be awarded posthumously; and d) members of the board of the Canada Council or the SSHRC are not eligible until six months after the end of their term as board members.

Selection Process

The recipients are chosen by a peer assessment committee appointed jointly by the Canada Council and the SSHRC. Committee members are among the most accomplished individuals in their respective fields. New committees are formed for each competition. Committees are intended to provide fair representation of gender, generations, Canada’s two official languages, Indigenous peoples, the cultural and regional diversity of Canada, and various types of artistic and scholarly disciplines. The committee may decide not to award one or both of the awards in a given year, if it determines that there is not a sufficiently deserving candidate.

Recipients

1964 —Donald CreightonAlain Grandbois
1965 —Jean GasconFrank Scott
1966 —Georges-Henri LévesqueHugh MacLennan
1967 —Arthur EricksonAnne HébertMarshall McLuhan
1968 —Glenn GouldJean Le Moyne
1969 — Jean-Paul Audet, Morley CallaghanArnold Spohr
1970 —Northrop FryeDuncan MacPhersonYves Thériault
1971 —Maureen ForresterRina LasnierNorman McLaren
1972 —John James DeutschAlfred PellanGeorge Woodcock
1973 — W.A.C.H. Dobson, Celia FrancaJean-Paul Lemieux
1974 —Alex ColvillePierre DansereauMargaret Laurence
1975 —Orford String QuartetDenise PelletierJon Vickers
1976 —John HirschBill ReidJean-Louis Roux
1977 —Gabrielle Roy, Jack Shadboldt, George Story
1978 —Jean DuceppeBetty OliphantMichael Snow
1979 —Michel BraultLois MarshallRobert Weaver
1980 —Margaret AtwoodMarcel TrudelJohn Weinzweig
1981 — not awarded
1982 — Alan C. Cairns, Louis-Edmond HamelinJack McClellandGilles Vigneault
1983 —Brian MacdonaldFrancess Halpenny
1984 —Marcel DubéJames G. Eayrs
1985 —Gaston Miron, Ronald Melzack
1986 —J. Mavor MooreWilliam Dray
1987 —Yvette Brind'AmourMarc-Adélard Tremblay
1988 —Robertson Davies, Terence Michael Penelhum
1989 —Vera Frenkel, Fernande Saint-Martin
1990 —Alice MunroJean-Jacques Nattiez
1991 —Denys ArcandCharles Taylor
1992 —Douglas CardinalFernand Dumont
1993 —R. Murray Schafer, Juliet McMaster
1994 —Michel Tremblay, Martin Friedland
1995 —Gerald Ferguson, Donald Akenson
1996 —Mavis Gallant, Pierre Maranda
1997 —Mary Pratt, Guy Rocher
1998 —Jeanne Lamon, Michael J. Trebilcock
1999 —Kiawak Ashoona, Tom Courchene
2000 —Jacques PoulinIan Hacking
2001 — not awarded
2002 —Christopher Newton, Margaret Lock
2003 —Walter Boudreau, Janice Gross Stein
2004 —Maria Campbell, Richard E. Tremblay
2005 —Iain BaxterRamsay Cook
2006 —Nicole Brossard, Henry Mintzberg
2007 —Alex PaukPaul Thagard
2008 —Sheila Fischman, Angus McLaren
2009 —Ian Wallace, Wayne Sumner
2010 —Édouard LockLinda Hutcheon
2011 —Herménégilde Chiasson, Peter Victor
2012 — Dáirine Ní Mheadhra, Keren Rice
2013 — Richard Wagamese, Ann Dale
2014 — Jean Grondin, John Arcand
2015 — M.G. Vassanji, Constance Backhouse
2016 — Marie-Claire Blais, John McGarry
2017 — Lawrence Hill, Kent Roach
2018 — Diane Schoemperlen, Lynne Viola
2019 — Alexina Louie, John Borrows
2020 — Mary Kerr, David Lyon
2021 — M. NourbeSe Philip, Gordon J. G. Asmundson