Queen's 175th Anniversary

Queen's University Queen's University

[Queen's University Douglas Library]
[Queen's University Douglas Library]
Celebrating Queen's 175th Anniversary

Queen’s academics and alumni support in Ottawa

1920s to present day
Decade: 1920s
[John Deutsch]

The 20th century brought with it changes to Canada’s economics, politics and civil society. When Ottawa needed guidance, Queen’s faculty and alumni were ready to give advice.

In the 1920s, former Queen’s Journal editor Charlotte Whitton went to Ottawa and became a vocal social welfare critic and eventually mayor of the city.

In the 1930s, Queen’s-trained economists W.A.M. Mackintosh and John J. Deutsch were called to Ottawa to research the roots of that decade’s devastating economic collapse. Their investigations for the Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations set the statistical stage for the emergence of Canada’s social welfare state. These talents spilled over into the huge task of efficiently managing the war economy.

In 1945, Professor Mackintosh presented a seminal “white paper” to the Mackenzie King government setting out a blueprint for post-war income and employment stability. Insiders in Ottawa joked that the Canadian social welfare state was “conceived by King and born of Queen’s.”

Late 20th-century Ottawa had frequent working visitors from Queen’s. Principal Alex Corry chaired a royal commission on hate literature. Principal Ronald Watts lent his voice to solving Canada’s national unity problems in the 1970s. Queen’s gave birth to the Institute for Intergovernmental Relations, which gives insight into federal systems the world over.

Principal David Smith headed the research team on a 1980s royal commission studying Canada’s response to a globalizing economy.

Queen’s commitment to Canada’s federal project has always trickled down into its faculty, manifesting itself in the perspectives of such scholars as historians Arthur Lower and Frederick Gibson and political scientists Richard Simeon and C.E.S. Franks. Their commitment in turn filtered into the minds of undergraduates who looked to Ottawa for creative careers.

Others, such as political columnist Jeffrey Simpson and politicians Flora MacDonald and John Baird have found other ways to engage Ottawa. Queen’s, it seems, has long provided support in Canada’s corridors of power.

Pictured above: John Deutsch

The historical content of this site was curated by a committee of faculty and staff with submissions from the broader Queen’s community.
These moments are not intended to represent an exhaustive history of the university, but rather significant sign posts in its development.
Special thanks go to University Historian Duncan McDowall for his contributions.
Many thanks also to the people of Queen's University Archives for their support of this anniversary project.
Have feedback about the moments? Please contact qu175@queensu.ca