Massey Lectures | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Massey Lectures

The Massey Lectures are an annual series of five public lectures by distinguished Canadian and international writers, thinkers and scholars on issues of contemporary significance. The University of Toronto’s Massey College, along with CBC and the House of Anansi Press, currently co-hosts the Massey Lectures.


The Massey Lectures were established by the CBC in 1961 in honour of the founder of Massey College at the University of Toronto, the former Governor General of Canada Vincent Massey. The lectures feature renowned Canadian and international authorities speaking on issues of broad contemporary significance.

The subject matter and structure of the lectures has traditionally been negotiated with producers of the CBC radio program Ideas, occasionally resulting in disputes. For example, the 1996 lectures, scheduled to feature British economist and futurist Robert Theobald, were cancelled because Theobald and CBC producers could not agree upon a final manuscript for the lectures.

Prior to 1989, the lectures were recorded for broadcast in the CBC studios in Toronto. Between 1989 and 2002, the lectures were given in public at the University of Toronto. Since 2002, the lectures have been delivered and recorded in five different Canadian cities in early fall, then broadcast on the CBC radio program Ideas and published at the same time by House of Anansi Press.

The Lectures

  • 1961: Barbara Ward, The Rich Nations and the Poor Nations
  • 1962: Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination
  • 1963: Frank Underhill, The Image of Confederation
  • 1964: C.B. Macpherson, The Real World of Democracy
  • 1965: John Kenneth Galbraith, The Underdeveloped Country
  • 1966: Paul Goodman, The Moral Ambiguity of America
  • 1967: Martin Luther King, Jr., Conscience for Change
  • 1968: R.D. Laing, The Politics of the Family
  • 1969: George Grant, Time as History
  • 1970: George Wald, Therefore Choose Life
  • 1971: James Corry, The Power of the Law
  • 1972: Pierre Dansereau, Inscape and Landscape
  • 1973: Stafford Beer, Designing Freedom
  • 1974: George Steiner, Nostalgia for the Absolute
  • 1975: J. Tuzo Wilson, Limits to Science
  • 1976: No Lecture
  • 1977: Claude Lévi-Strauss, Myth and Meaning
  • 1978: Leslie Fiedler, The Inadvertent Epic
  • 1979: Jane Jacobs, Canadian Cities and Sovereignty Association
  • 1980: No Lecture
  • 1981: Willy Brandt, Dangers and Options: The Matter of World Survival
  • 1982: Robert Jay Lifton, Indefensible Weapons
  • 1983: Eric Kierans, Globalism and the Nation-State
  • 1984: Carlos Fuentes, Latin America: At War with the Past
  • 1985: Doris Lessing, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside
  • 1986: No Lecture
  • 1987: Gregory Baum, Compassion and Solidarity: The Church for Others
  • 1988: Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies
  • 1989: Ursula Franklin, The Real World of Technology
  • 1990: Richard Lewontin, Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA
  • 1991: Charles Taylor, The Malaise of Modernity
  • 1992: Robert Heilbroner, Twenty-First Century Capitalism
  • 1993: Jean Bethke Elshtain, Democracy on Trial
  • 1994: Conor Cruise O'Brien, On the Eve of the Millennium
  • 1995: John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization
  • 1996: No Lecture
  • 1997: Hugh Kenner, The Elsewhere Community
  • 1998: Jean Vanier, Becoming Human
  • 1999: Robert Fulford, The Triumph of Narrative
  • 2000: Michael Ignatieff, The Rights Revolution
  • 2001: Janice Stein, The Cult of Efficiency
  • 2002: Margaret Visser, Beyond Fate
  • 2003: Thomas King, The Truth About Stories
  • 2004: Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress
  • 2005: Stephen Lewis, Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa
  • 2006: Margaret Somerville, The Ethical Imagination
  • 2007: Alberto Manguel, The City of Words
  • 2008: Margaret Atwood, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth
  • 2009: Wade Davis, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World
  • 2010: Douglas Coupland, Player One: What Is to Become of Us
  • 2011: Adam Gopnik, Winter: Five Windows on the Season
  • 2012: Neil Turok, The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos
  • 2013: Lawrence Hill, Blood: The Stuff of Life
  • 2014: Adrienne Clarkson, Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship
  • 2015: Margaret MacMillan, History’s People: Personalities and the Past
  • 2016: Jennifer Welsh, The Return of History
  • 2017: Payam Akhavan, In Search of a Better World
  • 2018: Tanya Talaga, All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward
  • 2019: Sally Armstrong, Power Shift: The Longest Revolution
  • 2020: Ronald J. Deibert, Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society
  • 2021: Esi Edugyan, Out of the Sun: On Art, Race and the Future
  • 2022: Tomson Highway, Laughing with the Trickster: On Sex, Death and Accordions
  • 2023: Astra Taylor, The Age of Insecurity: Coming Together as Things Fall Apart

Read More // The Massey Lectures

External Links