Chad Gaffield

SSHRC President

Chad Gaffield

Chad Gaffield, one of Canada’s foremost historians, has been president of SSHRC since 2006. In this capacity he has helped define a new model of innovation that places understanding about people—human thought and behaviour—at the organization’s core, and that reaffirms the contributions of social sciences and humanities research to our economy and quality of life.

Gaffield has won many awards for his teaching and research. The University of Ottawa named him Researcher of Year in 1995 and Professor of the Year in 2002. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he received the society’s J.B. Tyrrell Historical Medal in 2004 for his outstanding contribution to the study of Canada. In 2007, the Canadian Association of University Teachers presented him with its Distinguished Academic Award in recognition of excellence in teaching, research and service to the community. In 2011, he was the inaugural winner of the Antonio Zampolli Prize, awarded by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations to recognize a single outstanding output in the digital humanities by a scholar.

Gaffield received his bachelor and master of arts from McGill University, and his PhD from the University of Toronto.


Other achievements



Gaffield came to SSHRC following 20 years at the University of Ottawa, where he:

  • held a University Research Chair;
  • was the founding director of the Institute of Canadian Studies;
  • served as vice-dean of graduate studies; and
  • served on the executive committee of the board of governors.

An expert on 19th- and 20th-century Canada, Gaffield has:

  • served as president of the Canadian Historical Association;
  • served as president of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences;
  • analyzed the ways demographic, economic and cultural changes influence, and are influenced by, institutional and political history;
  • reinterpreted major historical events in the making of modern Canada as expressions of micro-historical transformations (changes occurring in the lives of everyday people); and
  • led a variety of major research initiatives, including the Canadian Century Research Infrastructure project, which involved universities and partner organizations from St. John’s, Nfld. to Victoria, B.C.

Gaffield’s other honours include:

  • the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003;
  • an honorary doctorate from Thompson Rivers University in 2007;
  • the Prix de la francophonie de l’Ontario in 2008; and
  • the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.