The Massey Lectures

​The Massey Lectures are an annual series of five public lectures by distinguished Canadian writers, thinkers and scholars on issues of contemporary significance.

The Massey Lectures are an annual series of five public lectures by distinguished Canadian writers, thinkers and scholars on issues of contemporary significance.


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 are currently negotiated with producers of the CBC radio program Ideas, occasionally resulting in disputes: 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 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,Inscapeand 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

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