Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 7, No. 1, 1993
Edited by Brian Shoesmith & Ian Angus

Harold Innis and Canadian cultural policy in the 1940s

Alison Beale

In 1949, a Royal Commission on National Development of the Arts, Letters and Sciences was appointed in Canada. The Massey-Levesque Commission, usually known in English Canada as the Massey Commission, reported in 1951. Although its key recommendations were not implemented until later in the decade, they contributed decisively to transforming Canadian society over the next forty years. Key cultural and media institutions, as well as the guiding principles for administering federal subsidies to the arts, and university teaching and research, owe their essential forms to the Commission. Forty years later, in the 1992 context of constitutional review, North American Free Trade, and marked changes to the social composition of Canada, a critical examination of the Massey legacy is underway. In speeches, mainstream and alternative media reports, references for and against the Massey Report abound.

In this paper, after presenting this context, I review some of the research that has now exhumed and examined the debates in government, the arts, the media, universities and business that surrounded the Commission's activities, and which have provided such an interesting counterpoint to the present turmoil. In addition, I look at Harold Innis' comments and efforts on behalf of the arts and sciences in Canada during this period. Innis is often held responsible for influencing the reigning generation of nationalist, communication and cultural studies scholars and bureaucrats, through a combined legacy of 'dependency' political economy and - depending on one's point of view - the anti-populist, or nationalist, Massey cultural ethos. Innis, of course, did not contribute directly to the Commission (he became ill with cancer in the late 1940s and died in 1952), although some of his last publications appeared at the same time as the Report, and referred approvingly to it. More to the point, and less well known, were his twenty or so years of close collaboration with some of the American charitable foundations, which until the late 1950s, supported the arts and research in Canada. With respect to Innis' legacy, at least, if not the legacy of the Massey Commission (which in many respects was influenced by the foundations' work), this aspect of his work deserves greater scrutiny.

1992: The context

Not for many years in Canada has consensus about "national development" in general, and cultural development in particular, been so lacking as it is now. A number of critics regard the Massey Commission as the faulty blueprint for both the formal, cultural, policy process and the prevailing concepts in public discourse about culture that have persisted in Canada to this day. In a turbulent time, the achievements of the Massey Commission are increasingly regarded as ineffective compromises between public and private sectors, between the "longhairs" and the "little man", 1 and between federal and provincial jurisdictions (in particular, the Province of Quebec). Along with formerly stable institutions and divisions of jurisdiction, the very vocabulary of cultural policy debate is being challenged.

The context for this re-examination of fundamentals consists of several related parts. First, following years of declining public funding and consequent cutbacks at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canada Council and other agencies; government policy and constitutional proposals now aggressively promote privatisation, politicisation, and the devolution of some cultural jurisdiction to the provinces. As part of its constitutional "deal", the government proposed the following:

The government of Canada will, therefore, negotiate with the provinces, upon their request, agreements appropriate to the particular circumstances of each province to define clearly the role of each level of government. Where appropriate, such agreements could be constitutionalized. While these agreements will recognize the important community dimensions of culture and the special responsibilities of Quebec in this area, the Government of Canada will maintain responsibility for existing cultural institutions (such as CBC/Radio Canada, the national museums, the National Film Board, the Canada Council, the National Library, the National Archives, Telefilm and the National Arts Centre) that allow for the expression and dissemination of Canada's identity both within Canada and abroad. 2

This "offer" is clearly a reflection of the competing pressures on the current Government, to devolve reponsibilities on the one hand, and on the other, to safeguard a federal presence. The expression "maintain responsibility" in the above statement, with respect to existing institutions, has not reassured lobbies such as the Friends of Public Broadcasting, the Canadian Conference for the Arts, and others (including a curiously muted parliamentary Opposition). Throughout the summer of 1991, they shadow-boxed with rumours of the impending demise of federal agencies like the Canada Council. In November, the Canadian Conference for the Arts held a national meeting at which it reconfirmed the importance of such principles as national standards, equal access and arms-length funding as parts of the Massey legacy not to be thrown out with the bathwater of constitutional renewal. The concern of many traditional supporters of state support for the arts is that without concerted and focussed public debate, the precedent and principles of the Massey Report are disappearing as the by-product of other decisions. Indeed, it appears that suspicion as to the true extent of Government commitment to national institutions should rest less on their status as bargaining chips in the consitutional process, and more on their debilitated state following a decade of cultural policy linked to industrial policy. The second aspect of the current cultural policy review then, is the final integration of cultural policy into industrial policy (or, since Canada is becoming de-industrialised, into trade policy) from the late 1980s. The Free Trade Agreement may have rendered obsolete all of the Massey-inspired, nationalist language of cultural policy:

There were few sighs of relief when it was finally announced Canadian cultural industries would be "exempt " from the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). First of all, in exempting "cultural industries " the FTA had to refine what they were. As a consequence Canada has now established a commercial definition of culture, something that had never been done before, and is done nowhere else in the world (except the United States). In addition, any change to this definition is subject to negotiation with the United States. 3

The third feature of the current review of the Massey legacy reflects a novel proposition in the world of policy-makers: that through their creations, artists direct culture and ideas of what culture should be, and that the formation of cultural policy is part of artistic creation. The voices of those within Canada for whom the traditional Anglo-Canadian elites do not speak, emphatically reject the culturally prescriptive authority and the assumptions, if not of the Massey Commission, then of its heirs and successors in cultural administration. These dissidents, including Native Canadians, people of colour, gays and lesbians, and many women, share with earlier Anglo-Canadian artists an activist role (the rediscovered history of arts activists is a significant part of the examination of the Commission). 4 As a second "refus global" 5 they challenge well-established distinctions beween "art" (European) and "craft" (multicultural) that have replaced, or perhaps more accurately, overlaid the previous high-low categories of cultural life in colonial society. At the same time, they explicitly reject the individualism, modernism and liberalism which the original Francophone "refus" artists sought to embrace as solutions in their time. Some argue that knowledge of the Self means knowledge of the self in relation to a collectivity, and that such knowledge cannot be taken for granted by women or by minorities in Canadian society who do not have access, at all levels, to artistic training and enjoyment of the arts. The cultural policy process, too, must be flexible and acccessible to the cultural forms and media of "ethnic" Canadians and First Nations people:

As artists and as we come to terms with our displacement we are redressing the question of race and representation and cultural appropriation through a redefinition of history, culture, identity, etc. This process comes out of research. A large part of this process entails gathering histories as this collective memory is sometimes the only existing document of many cultures. Support for research that allows us to re-place [sic] ourselves is crucial especially in the realm of contemporary art practice and culture. 6

For the last twenty years, or since there have been such degrees, the history of cultural policies (including broadcasting and film) has been taught to communication and film students in Canada as a set of acts initiated by government in a too-little-too-late response to the culturally imperialist designs of the United States. Rarely has this pattern been analysed: act follows act in stumbling relay. 7 This general description would not be so wrong if it were not incomplete but it leaves out ideological and economic divisions among Canada's governing elites and it ignores the cultural achievements and cultural changes in Canada that have resulted (by design or by default) from many measures and institutions. French and English-speaking Canadians learn, of course, completely different stories. The emphasis on legislation and institutions represents a constitutional history approach which is at odds with the political economy orientation often claimed by many researchers, and results in an overly-close parallel between the work of intellectuals concerned with policies, and a federal government in Canada which, until recently, was devoted to an image of itself as a provider of hardware, the common carrier. Very often, references to specific, cultural works or artists are embarrassingly superficial. Social scientists have been more comfortable measuring the success of policy statistically than in soul-baring confessions of aesthetic pleasure or desire: "And what of creative and performing artists during this time? They were doing what they know best...creating and producing," lamely concludes one chapter of an authoritative evaluation of Canadian cultural policy from the 1940s to the 1980s. 8

Carnegie, Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and Innis

No one has suggested that Harold Innis' renowned workaholism left him much time for the active enjoyment of the arts. 9 His amusement at 1940s radio humourists, and earlier, at Mae West and Charlie Chaplin, are humanising features of a usually stern portrait, but they are hardly remarkable. His correspondence is peppered with rude asides about the Monarchy, various Churches, Lester Pearson, MacKenzie King and other Canadian and British, imperial, sacred cows. He could not abide the genteel, the Englishman in the colonies, or what he regarded as self-conscious cultural propaganda, Canadian, British or American. On the domestic front, Innis was said, perhaps apocryphally, to have read just one novel, and that because he was courting his literature-loving wife Mary. Whatever the case, his typical complete delegation of domestic duties to his wife left her little time for her own short story and novel writing. Instead, Innis conscripted her into composing a textbook on Canadian economic history.

Despite his wife's interest in the arts and his awareness of at least the existence of activities in drama and music at the University of Toronto, 10 Innis would have been hard-pressed, as a non-participant, to identify those pockets of cultural activity in his city which were not dominated by the cringing or boosterist features of colonial society that he detested. His primary relationship to the arts was through his occupations of academic and administrator. Contrary to stereotypes, this put him in a position to appreciate the contribution of the arts in a remarkably full sense.

In his last major works, The Bias of Communication and Empire and Comunications, Innis could be described as a cultural pessimist, regarding both the vigour of colonial cultures and the old cultures of Europe as hopelessly compromised by commercial, military and technological imperialism. Of course, the anti-utopian bent of his writing is elementary to what distinguishes him among communication theorists. Innis' academic career took him into cultural criticism via beginnings in history and political economy that defy contemporary narrow definitions of those disciplines. His own description of his early staples work - as concerned with the culture in which an economic system is embedded - is an accurate one. Similarily, he described his book, The Fur Trade in Canada as being about the relationship between Native and European cultures. The foregrounding of cultural issues in the last two books involves a back-and-forth cross-referencing between ancient societies and the present.

However, despite the constant comment in his published work on contemporary developments in the media, and such manifestly public forays as the academic delegation to Russia in 1945, 10 after which Innis published newspaper accounts of his trip and cautions against the creeping Cold War, Innis is not usually described by his critics as having contributed to either elite, cultural discourse or the formation of public opinion about the broadcasting system, or support for the arts in the late 1940s. Instead of the record, there is guilt by association. Setting aside his actual activity at the time, Innis is blamed 11 for posthumously influencing the so-called dependency orientation of the cultural elite and supporters of public broadcasting in Canada. Even if some have claimed Innis as their influence, his actions deserve examination on their own merits.

From the 1920s onwards, a number of American foundations became deeply involved in arts funding and education in Canada. They were also essential sources for the research funds that, until the late 1950s, were rarely forthcoming from government or the private sector. Innis was to become a guide to Canada for all of them. The Carnegie, Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations were the most notable of those which supported the arts. For years to come, through their varied programs, they influenced the structure of such apparently innocent activities as artist touring and bookings, community arts across the country, and the Banff School of Fine Arts. The Carnegie Corporation, well known, for establishing public libraries in North America and Britain, also gave "Music Study Material" and "Arts Teaching Sets" to such Universities as Toronto, Queen's, Dalhousie, Saskatchewan, Mount Allison, and Acadia, and cash grants used for non-credit courses and to found university departments and chairs in arts subjects. It also promoted the teaching of music in Canadian primary schools. The Rockefeller Foundation supported the National Film Society, and literary and drama conferences. The contribution of the Foundations was to extend into such varied areas as the collection and preservation of folk traditions, and support for important organisations such as the Federation of Canadian Artists which, by the late 1940s, were strenously lobbying for the Canadian government to replace the private foundations and to implement a principle of state-funded culture. 12

The Social Science Research Council, based in New York, and comprising the American anthropological, economic, historical, political, psychological, sociological and statistical associations was the primary research foundation. From about 1930 onwards, Innis participated in the planning of bilateral meetings on Canadian-American relations, and in organising research on these issues to be commissioned from various scholars, with the Canadians usually being suggested by himself. A letter from J.T. Shotwell, Director of the Council, to Innis implies that Innis had written a characteristically blunt letter filled with impatience at some of the assumptions behind American suggestions for this co-operative research. Shotwell's short masterpiece of academic diplomacy disarmingly restates the arguments which Innis published years later, about the obstacles to understanding in research being divided by discipline and by nation:

I am deeply indebted to you for your most helpful letter of July 23rd. It is exactly the kind of cooperation that undercuts all the formalities of institutional contacts and gets at the root of all the problems themselves. Your statement that the SSRC does not appreciate the sociological problems in its international studies, and that it has made serious blunders in connection with Canadian research, hits something that is much deeper than just the technique of the SSRC. That body simply reflects the best and most enlightened currents of thinking in the political and social sciences in the Unted States. Therefore, any blunders which it may make are blunders in the whole outlook of the social sciences. The point which underlies your criticism is that international relations differ from internal national problems in that there are divergent psychological trends which have to be kept in mind because they determine policy fully as much as mere material interests... I understand perfectly your own difficulties in undertaking to cooperate in this field and shall be guided by you... I sometimes feel almost tempted to try to get a purely Canadian meeting of the social and political sciences to see if we could not get a coordinate body there instead of having Canadian research problems coming in at the odd corners of American research problems. 13

Shotwell's proposed solution, a Canadian Social Science Research Council did not materialise until 1940, and was followed in 1944 by the Humanities Research Council. Both Councils received support from the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations, and it was Harold Innis' role to continue as guide to the American Foundations in their selection of Canadian talent. The problem was that even after the establishment of Canadian organisations, American influence persisted in the absence of Canadian funds. In 1943, Innis and a colleague at the Canadian Social Science Research Council, R.G. Trotter, wrote a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, on this very subject. It can be seen as part of the momentum that was building in both the arts and academic circles, and resulted in the Massey Commission. But it must be remembered that arms-length funding for social science and humanities research was not available in Canada until after the implementation of the Massey Report's recommendations.

During the 1940s, Harold Innis' correspondence reflected his administrative work for the Foundations, and his more thoughtful reflections on these issues. He found himself in contradictory positions. He opposed the release of university faculty to government jobs, both as a cynical survivor of the trenches of World War One, and as a protector of the underfunded research and teaching time of his Department staff, 13 but he nonetheless took on a number of wartime government consultancies. These were in addition to the administrative work he already did for his Department, University, Economics Association, journals, and his role of counsellor to the Foundations. During and after the war, he was asked for his opinion on matters which extended beyond his presumed philistine reach. For example, Henry Allen Moe of the Guggenheim Foundation wrote to ask Innis to recommend Guggenheim Fellows for 1948, and to review an application from the (now well-known) poet Dorothy Livesay. Innis replied cautiously about the young mother's ability to make full use of the Fellowship, but had earlier hazarded the opinion that,"the life of Louis Riel is a significant and unduly neglected subject... Miss Livesay would undoubtedly treat the subject poetically and... the result might posibly be something comparable to Benet's 'John Brown's body'. If so it might be of great importance to Canada." 15

For many Canadians of Innis' generation, the Allied Victory represented a case of winning the battle but losing the war. American popular culture, via radio, the movies and the press was immediately accessible to Canadian readers, and radio and film audiences. For Innis, unlike some of his contemporaries, the issue was not the lack of Canadian comic sketches on the radio, but the reduced ability of the United States to examine its empire in a critical fashion:

I have a feeling that we are losing our anchorages in Canada since the entry of the United States in the war. Even the New York Times has become propagandist in its news, and without some sort of steadiness we can go off the deep end in short order. 16

I am afraid that I share to some extent the view that our foreign policy is determined by Mr. Truman's views about being elected for a second term. I am afraid that we are in for trouble since the United States has never faced in a big way the problems of imperialism before. Consequently they have fallen back on the military with results which are to be expected. 17

The meetings [of the Canadian Historical Association] were at the Royal Military College, in Kingston. [Donald] got off a good pitch on our position of slavery under the United States... tremendous applause which leads me to suspect there is a great deal of feeling against American imperialism, as it has developed in Canada... 18

Few Canadians were better placed than Innis to intimately understand Canada's relationship to the United States. His Chicago professors had initated his research on the Canadian Pacific Railway; Americans made him President of the American Economic Association, Carnegie and Guggenheim advisor, and pressed on him a Chair at the University of Chicago. He personally experienced the costs and benefits of association with the USA throughout his career, and one might conclude that the benefits had been the greater part. Innis' position is difficult to identify in descriptions of the "elite nationalism" of the Massey Commission; moreover, concentration on that elite may have retrospectively eliminated many Canadians who contributed to the development of policies for the arts in Canada.

Back to the future

Both the historian Maria Tippett, and the philosopher and critic George Woodcock, are convincing that contrary to popular belief, the Massey Commission did not invent the arts in Canada. Their work documents the role of arts activists, associations, lobbies, teachers, and amateurs, in pressing for state funding; and also in making the case and the place for the arts in Canadian culture since Confederation. Maria Tippett argues that it was not until the War however (and possibly because of the late entry of the United States into the War) that Canadian artists became conscious of their own power:

[they] now saw themselves more clearly than ever before, not simply as nation-builders or educators but as the custodians of the values their civilization was struggling to preserve.They had developed too a strong conviction that it was in fact they, and not governors general, or itinerant festival adjudicators, or even foreign foundations, who were giving shape and meaning to the country's culture. 19

Research which emphasises the influence of the BBC, the British Council, Mathew Arnold or T.S. Eliot, and the well-documented snobberies of Vincent Massey, needs to be complemented by the story of Canadians who were active in the arts across the country. The professionalisation of the artist which has come about partly as a result of the Canada Council's existence, should not blind us to the historical role of the amateur. The emergence, now threatened, of a set of national institutions and programs can equally obscure the important role of provincial governments and cities.

But the Commission was not only concerned with the arts. The most vocal, and best funded, criticism of the Massey legacy has not concerned its role in developing a Eurocentric, highbrow concept of culture in the cultural institutions of this country; it has concerned the nationalism built into our public broadcasting system, and the futility and waste of resisting consumer preference for the American product (viz Richard Collins' thesis that US television products, like the doctor who "does no harm", cannot destroy a nation which does not exist or, one supposes, a nation which really does).

The left and right-wing critics of the Massey Report in the 1940s are easy enough to identify, but not as easy to distinguish from one another. Private broadcasters appearing before the Commission felt that their interests were most threatened by the prospect of state regulation and laid out their own cultural theory:

An American is basically the same as a Canadian - motivated by the same impulses, exposed to the same influences of literature, music, the theatre, movies and radio...By "non-Canadian material" the CBC is obviously referring to American material. In the first place, what is wrong with American material? If we are ever to have a Canadian culture, it will come as a result of full exposure to what is undoubtedly the fastest rising culture in the world today - that of the USA. 20

In contrast to Jack Kent Cooke, Professor Frank Underhill of the University of Toronto identified the market, and not the USA, as the fountainhead of contemporary culture:

These so-called "alien" American influences are not alien at all; they are just the natural forces that operate in the conditions of twentieth-century civilization. It is mass consumption and the North American environment which produce these phenomena, not some sinister influence in the United States. 21

The co-existence of such ideologically different explanations for the inexorability of world dominance by American popular culture is one which intellectuals on the left still have to come to terms with. Underhill's is, after all, only one segment of the left spectrum, and one that reflects the particular internationalism of the left after World War Two. On the other hand, Michael Dorland's recent analysis of Canadian film policy, looks at the variety of "pre-policies" (as he re-labels them) which have been introduced by the Canadian state in a pattern of interdependence since the 1920s. In contrast to the Canadian dependency tradition (in which Dorland locates Harold Innis, Donald Creighton, Wallace Clement and Dallas Smythe), Dorland argues that to understand a cultural policy such as Canadian film policy, one must see it as part of an historically constructed interdependence with the United States which "wages permanent war against the emergence of any form of non-systemic cultural sovereignty": 22

with the understanding that in the four principal fields of the exercise of national sovereignty (geography, economy, war and culture), Canada has never experienced state-to-state relations outside of interdependence (which amounts to saying that Canada is, in fact, familiar with dependency only), we can turn to state policy in film in Canada, since the turn of the century. And generally Canadian film policy derives the early and middle part of its history from territorial and military policies of interdependence (i.e., from the interplay of imperial, colonial and "national" policies) and its more recent history from a deliberate but, over time, increasingly fictional attempt to extricate itself from the cultural consequences of specifically Canadian American interdependence. 23

This attempt to evaluate policy in the greater context of our multi-faceted historical relationship to the United States, and the political economy of culture has many of the characteristics, to my mind, of Innis' own analysis. It is free of flag-waving, and opens up terms and methods of analysis that have become meaningless with repetition. Why not look at policy as discourse, as cultural artifact; why not insist on drawing parallels between military policy and cultural policy - as indeed Harold Innis did in a letter to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1947?

a growing interest in abstractions suited to mathematical techniques...deadens the sensitivity which one might expect in the social sciences as they have been influenced by the humanities. For example, social science research as carried out under the direction of the armed services neglects the whole political background, and gives the subject a distinct nationalistic tone which is fatal to the interest of peace. Consequently militarism is given considerable support by the social sciences, and the social scientist has not raised the question of political implications. 24

This perspective insists on looking at economics as a tool for describing human culture but never falls into the trap of reifying economic categories:

I have been struck by the interest in aggregates and averages [at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association] and the consequent decline of interest in reforms. The new interest in mass manipulation seems to be taking the zeal out of interest in reforms. 25

The prevailing characteristic of the last years of Innis' correspondence with some of his colleagues, is that the immediate practical concerns of academia or the Foundations, the relationships betwen the humanities and social sciences, and reflections on cultural directions, combine to reflect the discoveries that he was recording more formally elsewhere. As he wrote to Joe Willits at the Rockefeller Foundation in 1948:

I have a feeling that the Rockefeller Foundation is apt to suffer in a very much less acute form from the disease which has infected Universities, namely, a concern for boundary lines and departmentalisation... I would particularly emphasize support of the social sciences in the field of classical antiquity... I have the feeling the Departments of English are doing very significant work in the social sciences without knowing it. 26

Innis developed these themes in The Bias of Communication and Changing Concepts of Time. For example, the problem of disciplinary blindspots linked to overspecialisation and nationalism is associated in the essay "Minerva's Owl" (1947) with precisely the kinds of media monopolies that threaten not only scholarship, but also the self-awareness which Innis felt that the American empire so badly needed and was at risk of losing. References to the contribution of the humanities to what were regarded as social science subjects, and to the reductionism of "aggregates and averages", intensifies in "A Critical Review" (1948), a paper which was first presented at Oxford:

The printing press and the radio address the world instead of the individual...oral discussion involves personal contact and a consideration for the feelings of others, and it is in sharp contrast with the cruelty of mechanized communication which we have come to note in the modern world. The quantitative pressure of modern knowledge has been responsible for the decay of oral dialectic and conversation. 27


In the spring of 1992, the Canadian Government announced that it was going to combine the Canada Council (which had been responsible for the Arts), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, under one roof, restoring them to the close relationship they had until the early 1970s. Academics have expressed alarm, although an academic, not an arts administrator is the new director. Given that this is part of government cost-cutting and general denigration of the arts, social sciences and humanities, their fears have some grounds. Many government research agencies and programs were summarily closed down in 1992. Nonetheless, there is a certain symmetry with the period of the Massey Commission in this forced reassociation of allies who may now be better able to plea their case. It is hard to disagree with Innis that in an ideal world, artist and social scientist would act together. It is equally difficult to deny the persuasive arguments of those who by race, class, gender and profession, have largely been left out of cultural policy debates in this country.

In one of his last essays,"The Strategy of Culture", subtitled "with special reference to Canadian Literature - a footnote to the Massey Report", 28 Innis addressed Canadian literature not according to conventional criteria, but by building up an argument about our cultural relations with the United States as affected by the American Bill of Rights, postal regulations, the flow of paper products in one direction, and printed matter in the other .

This paper is characteristically dialectical in orientation: "Continentalism assisted in the achievement of autonomy [for Canada] and has consequently become more dangerous". 29 Innis ironically referred to this work as "a further effort to exploit Canadian nationalism", 30 and then went on to say "We are indeed fighting for our lives". 31 If this essay is the one in which Innis' personal feelings are closest to some of those expressed in the Massey Report, one must also observe how reluctantly he was dragged into the conventional expression of nationalism. Throughout his career, he preferred to turn the obvious on its head, and to see behind every nationalist a profiteer at the public trough and an "incipient fascist". 32

Harold Innis shared some, but not all of the guiding assumptions of the Massey Commission. His own service to the academic and arts communities, his professional correspondence and his published work, reflects a synthetic and intensely practical approach to cultural issues which has not generally been emphasised. Research in the history of Canadian cultural policy is a growing field which is changing received notions of policy that have awarded all but the Commissioners the most passive of positions, contrary to the facts. Pushed by the demands of academics and important sectors of the public, the "Arts, Letters, Humanities and Social Sciences" in Canada may yet realise their forgotten mutual interest.


1. "Little man, you've been letting down the longhairs - the artists, writers and painters. It's time you opened your heart, your soul, and your pocketbook and improved yourself. It says so in so many words in the Massey Report on the arts and sciences". Vancouver Sun, June 1, 1951. Quoted in Paul Litt, "The Massey Commission as Intellectual History: Mathew Arnold meets Jack Kent Cooke," Canadian Issues v. xi, 1989, 23-34, p.23. See also Litt, "The Massey Commission, Americanization, and Canadian Cultural Nationalism," Queen's Quarterly (Summer 1991), pp.375-387.

2. Section Three of "Shaping Canada's Future," Government of Canada, Sept. 24, 1991, quoted in Canadian Conference of the Arts, Initial Analysis of the Federal Constitutional Proposals Sept. 29, 1991, p.2.

3. Colleen Fuller, "Fade to Black: Culture under Free Trade", Canadian Forum, August 1991, 5-10, p.6.

4. See Maria Tippett, Making Culture: English-Canadian Institutions and the Arts before the Massey Commission (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990).

5. "Refus global" was a manifesto signed and published in 1948 by a group of Quebec artists, writers and dancers, men and women. They rejected the repressed, authoritarian, Quebec society of their time, dominated by the Family, the Church and Quebec's Premier, Maurice Duplessis. Paul-Emile Borduas and Jean-Paul Riopelle are two of the better-known signatories. See Andre-G. Bourassa and Gilles Lapointe, Refus global et ses environs (Montreal: Editions de l'HEXAGONE/Bibliotheque nationale du Quebec, 1988).

6. Zainub Verjee, of InVisible Colours (a Vancouver film and video festival showcasing international work by women of colour), quoted in the Interim Report of the Subcommittee on Cultural Diversity, City of Vancouver, June 1991. See also Marcia Crosby, "Construction of the Imaginary Indian," Vancouver Anthology: The Institutional Politics of Arts (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991), pp.267-291.

7. Michael Dorland skewers this tradition: "the Canadian state its discourse on culture generally, entertaining an historically articulate soliloquy and principally to convince itself of the following fiction: namely, that a state which has never experienced sovereignty would nonetheless be able to safeguard it". See his "The War Machine: American Culture, Canadian Cultural Sovereignty and Film Policy", Canadian Journal of Film Studies, v.1, n.2, 1991, pp.35-48, p.35.

8. Paul Schafer and AndrĀ­ Fortier, Review of Federal Policies for the Arts in Canada (1948-1988) (Prepared for the Department of Communications, Ottawa, Canadian Conference of the Arts, 1989).

9. The only biography of Harold Innis remains Donald Creighton's Harold Innis: Portrait of a Scholar (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1957, rpt. 1978). Innis' papers and correspondence in the Archives of the University of Toronto Library were examined by the author while researching "Harold Innis: Patterns in Communication" a 52-minute documentary (1990). Unless otherwise indicated, all following quotations from the correspondence of Harold Innis are from letters in the collection of the Archives of the University of Toronto.

10. The philanthropic activities of the Massey family, who made their fortune in farm machinery, were elementary to the early sustenance of theatre and chamber music in Toronto. Productions and concerts were regularly held at Hart House on the University of Toronto campus. Until the construction of Roy Thomson Hall, generously named for a relatively small donation from the family of the late Canadian press baron, Massey Hall was the home of the Toronto Symphony and the largest concert hall in the city. The anglophile Vincent Massey, grandson of Hart, was Canadian High Commissioner in London before his appointment to the Commission. (Tippett, pp.119 ff).

10. Creighton, p.121.

11. See for example Richard Collins, Culture, Communication and National Identity (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), pp.60-189.

12. Tippett, pp.144-147 (ff).

13. James T. Shotwell to Harold Innis, July 27, 1932.

14. "We go on much as usual - rather disturbed at the sudden outburst of intense loyalty of Principal James and Principal Wallace which takes the form of desiring to close up all Arts faculties. That is the sort of thing which the real burden of imperialism amounts to. But I must not start on this..." Harold Innis to G.S. Graham, Nov 28, 1942.

15. Henry Moe to Harold Innis Sept 24, 1947, and Innis' reply Sept 30.

16. Harold Innis to G. S. Graham Apr 30, 1942.

17. Innis to Graham, May 1, 1947.

18. Innis to Graham 1950, date unknown.

19. Tippett, p.174. See also George Woodcock, Strange Bedfellows: The State and the Arts in Canada (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1985).

20. Jack Kent Cooke, quoted in Litt, 1989, p.26.

21. Frank Underhill, quoted in Litt, 1991, p.381.

22. Dorland, p.38.

23. Ibid, p.39.

24. Innis to John Marshall, Rockefeller Foundation, Sept 2, 1947.

25. Innis to Joe Willitts, Jan 4, 1948.

26. Innis to Willitts, Feb 6, 1948.

27. Harold Innis, The Bias of Communication (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), p.191.

28. Harold Innis, "The Strategy of Culture", Changing Concepts of Time (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1952).

29. Ibid, p.20.

30. Ibid, p.1.

31. Ibid, p.19.

32. Innis, "The Penetrative Powers of the Price System" (1938), collected in Essays in Canadian Economic History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), p.267.

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