University of Toronto

Innis Alumni & Friends

Harold Innis Foundation

Historical Overview & Mission

harold innis foundation logo

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.


  • Jesse Wente: “A Spot on the Brain: Trauma and Healing in the Age of COVID” (November 9, 2020)
  • Dionne Brand: “To Look Again: Fragments, History, Fiction” (November 14, 2019)
  • Charlotte Gray: “Telling Stories in the Age of Historical Amnesia” (November 8, 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)
  • Linda McQuaig: “How Business Took Over the World: The Disappearing Notion of the Common Good” (November 16, 1995)
  • John Ralston Saul: “Language and Lying – The Return of Ideology” (March 15, 1995)


2019 Lecture Gallery









  • Harold Innis Foundation Scholarship: To be awarded on the basis of financial need and academic merit to Innis College degree students in the Faculty of Arts and Science enrolled in an Urban Studies Specialist or Major or Minor program.
  • Harold Innis Undergraduate Prize: To be awarded on the basis of financial need to Innis College undergraduate degree students for outstanding voluntary activity that takes place off campus and outside the requirements of a course and that represents the legacy of Harold Innis.


Board of Directors

Ex Officio Directors (5)

  • Principal, Innis College – Dr. Charlie Keil
  • Student Representative, Innis College Council – Andrew Zhao
  • Staff Representative, Innis College Council – Ben Weststrate, secretary
  • Representative, Innis College Student Society – Nancy Zhao
  • Representative, Innis College Alumni Network – Joanne Uyede

Elected Directors (10)

  • Dr. Kay Armatage
  • Ennis Blentic
  • James Chapman
  • Joel Colby, vice-president
  • Dr. Anne Innis Dagg
  • Jaren Kerr
  • Joanne Mackay-Bennett
  • Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, president
  • Dr. David Roberts
  • Joyce Hahn, treasurer

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