University of Toronto

Innis Alumni & Friends

Harold Innis Foundation

Historical Overview & Mission

Established on February 12, 1969, the Harold Innis Foundation is a registered charity that aims to advance the academic inquiry, and to preserve the legacy, of the late Harold Adams Innis. Each year, the Foundation awards Scholarships to Innis College students, based upon academic merit, financial need, and leadership involvement. The Foundation also hosts an annual Harold Innis Lecture delivered by acclaimed thinkers, whose discourse echoes that of Harold Innis himself.

Harold Innis served in the Canadian Armed Forces during WWI before becoming Chair of the Department of Political Economy at the University of Toronto. During his tenure, he authored several seminal books on communications theory, media, and political economy. He is perhaps best known for his work on the “Staples Thesis,” which examines the development of Canada’s economy through the export of raw materials such as fur, fish, and lumber.

Past Lectures

  • Charlotte Gray – November 2018
  • Andrew Coyne: “Crisis in the Media: Causes, Consequences and Cures (November 7, 2017)
  • George Elliott Clarke: “Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers, Fifty Years On: Blasphemy as Treason, Passion as Revolution.” (November 9, 2016)
  • Jack Layton (November 28, 2001)
  • Mark Kingwell: “The Banality of Evil, the Evil of Banality” (November 5, 1998)
  • John Ralston Saul: “Language and Lying – The Return of Ideology” (March 15, 1995)

Scholarships & Awards

  • Undergraduate Scholarship: recognizes a student with financial need and outstanding academic performance in the Social Sciences.
  • Undergraduate Prize: goes to a student with financial need who has achieved distinction in the political, social or athletic life of the College or University.
  • Graduate Award: awarded on the basis of financial need and academic merit to Cinema Studies Institute Masters students accepted into a PhD film program.

2017-18 Board of Directors

Ex Officio Directors (5)

  • Principal, Innis College: Dr. Charlie Keil
  • Student Representative, Innis College Council: Elspeth Arbow
  • Staff Representative, Innis College Council: Marta Switzer
  • Representative, Innis College Student Society: Brandon Liu
  • Representative, Innis College Alumni Network: Joanne Uyede


Elected Directors (10)

  • Dr. Kay Armatage
  • Ennis Blentic
  • James Chapman
  • Joel Colby, Foundation Vice President
  • Jaren Kerr
  • Joanne Mackay-Bennett
  • Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, Foundation President
  • Dr. David Roberts
  • Ben Weststrate, Foundation Sectretary
  • TBD

Click here to view the Harold Innis Foundation By-laws (Amended 1989)