Governor General's International Award for Canadian Studies:

1998 - Thomas H.B. Symons

Thomas H.B. Symons
(read his acceptance speech)


Founding President and Vanier Professor Emeritus of Trent University; teacher and writer in the fields of Canadian Studies, contemporary intellectual and cultural issues, international academic and cultural relations; founding member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Canadian Studies; founding member of the Board of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions; Chairman of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, of the National Statistics Council, and the Advisory Committee on the National Atlas of Canada &emdash; no other Canadian is as closely associated with Canadian Studies in Canada and around the world as Thomas H.B. Symons.

Perhaps best known as Chair of the 1972 Commission on Canadian Studies and author of To Know Ourselves: The Report of the Commission on Canadian Studies (Ottawa: Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, 1975-1984), which revolutionized the curriculum of the Canadian university, and exerted a very powerful influence in fostering greater interest in Canada, Professor Symons' interests and scholarship embrace education, public affairs, human rights and international relations. His many appointments include serving as Chairman of the Commission on Commonwealth Studies; Chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities; Chairman of the International Board of the United World Colleges; Co-Chair of the bilateral conference on Canadian-Soviet Co-operation in the Arctic; Chairman of the Canadian Polar Commission Study; Chairman of the National Library Advisory Board; Vice-President of the National Capital Planning Commission; Vice-President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and member of the Advisory Committee on Academic Relations for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

His extensive publications include:

  • The Place of History: Commemorating Canada's Past (1997)
  • Canadian Studies and the Canadian University in the Twenty-First Century (1996)
  • Learning from Each Other: Commonwealth Studies for the Twenty First Century (London, 1995)
  • The Greening of Heritage: Historical Preservation and the Environmental Movement (1995)
  • Powerful Memories, Powerful Dreams: Report of the Confederation Birthplace Commission, with Wendy McDonald et al. (Charlottetown, 1991)
  • The Nature and Importance of Canada's Academic and Cultural Relations with Italy and the Mediterranean World (Ottawa, 1989)
  • The Shield of Achilles: The Report of the Canadian Polar Research Commission Study (Ottawa, 1988)
  • Life Together: A Report on Human Rights in Ontario with Rosalie Abella et al. (1977).

Educated at the University of Toronto and at Oxford and Harvard Universities, Professor Symons has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and awarded honorary degrees by fourteen Canadian universities and colleges. In 1985 the University of Colombo conferred upon him the degree Doctor of Letters in recognition of "outstanding service to human rights and higher education throughout the Commonwealth." In 1997 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada. The International Council for Canadian Studies is proud to honour him in 1998 as recipient of the fourth annual Governor General's International Award for Canadian Studies.


Close this window