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The Massey Lectures are an annual five-part series of lectures on a political, cultural or philosophical topic given in Canada by a noted scholar. They were created in 1961 to honour Vincent Massey, Governor General of Canada. The purpose is to "enable distinguished authorities to communicate the results of original study on important subjects of contemporary interest."[1] Some of the most famous Massey Lecturers have included Northrop Frye, John Kenneth Galbraith, Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Franklin, and Nobel laureates Martin Luther King, Jr., George Wald, Willy Brandt and Doris Lessing. In 2003 novelist Thomas King was the first person of aboriginal descent to be invited as a lecturer.


The event is co-sponsored by CBC Radio, House of Anansi Press and Massey College in the University of Toronto. The lectures have been broadcast by the CBC Radio show Ideas since 1965. Before 2002, the lectures were recorded for broadcast in a CBC Radio studio in Toronto. In 1989. and after, a single public lecture was also given at the University of Toronto. Since 2002, the lectures were taken out of the studio with each of the five lectures being delivered and recorded for broadcast before an audience in a different Canadian city.

The lectures are broadcast each November on Ideas, and are published in book form by House of Anansi Press. Two consolidations of five older lectures have been published. Many of the lectures are also available in CD audio which can be purchased through the CBC. In 2011 most of the lectures were available on the Ideas website. Since 1997 the lectures have included some form of interaction through web forums.

Massey lecturersEdit

Barbara Ward, the first Massey Lecturer


In October 2013, for Lawrence Hill's Massey Lectures, CBC Radio produced a visual narrative to accompany his topic of Blood: The Stuff of Life and published it on a website. This story is presented with huge, full-screen images of blood, animations which visually demonstrate historical attitudes and videos of people affected culturally by blood. The website elements are triggered by scrolling so that as the reader continues on the page, the multiple backgrounds seem to move at different speeds, creating a sensation of depth. This is known as a parallax website.

There was no lecture in 1996 because the Ideas producers and the selected Lecturer, Robert Theobald, could not agree on what constituted a sufficient manuscript for the lecture.[14] The topic was to be on the broad theme of the future of work. Theobald later published his manuscript as Reworking Success: New Communities at the Millennium (1997).[15]


  1. ^ Lucht, Bernie. "Ideas: The CBC Massey Lectures". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on September 20, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-28. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^
  3. ^ " TITLES". Retrieved 2011-06-21.
  4. ^ "House of Anansi: The Universe Within". Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  5. ^ "House of Anansi:Blood". House of Anansi Press. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  6. ^ "The 2014 CBC Massey Lectures".
  7. ^ "Margaret MacMillan to deliver the 2015 CBC Massey Lectures". Retrieved 2014-11-29.
  8. ^ "Margaret MacMillan: History's People". Retrieved 2015-11-05.
  9. ^ "The Return of History". House of Anansi Press. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
  10. ^ "In Search of A Better World". House of Anansi Press. Retrieved 2017-07-07.
  11. ^ "Payam Akhavan | Faculty of Law - McGill University". Retrieved 2017-07-07.
  12. ^ "Toronto Star investigative journalist Tanya Talaga to deliver 2018 CBC Massey Lectures". House of Anansi Press. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  13. ^ "CBC Massey Lecturer Sally Armstrong argues gender equality is crucial to a thriving future". CBC. July 22, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  14. ^ Valpy, Michael (1996-09-17). "The Massey Lectures you won't be hearing". Globe & Mail. Toronto, Canada. pp. A15.
  15. ^ Smith, Cameron (1997-03-29). "The Massey Lecture we didn't hear". Toronto Star. Toronto, Ont., Canada. pp. –6. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2017-01-16.

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