Royal Society of Canada

Last updated
Royal Society of Canada
AbbreviationRSC (SRC in French)
Type Learned society
Legal status Nonprofit organization
PurposeTo promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment in both official languages, to recognize academic and artistic excellence and to advise governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians on matters of public interest.
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Region served
Official languages
English, French

The Royal Society of Canada (RSC; French : Société royale du Canada), also known as the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada (French: Académies des arts, des lettres et des sciences du Canada), is the senior national, bilingual council of distinguished Canadian scholars, humanists, scientists and artists. The primary objective of the RSC is to promote learning and research in the arts, the humanities and the sciences. The RSC is Canada’s National Academy and exists to promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment in both official languages, to recognize academic and artistic excellence, and to advise governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians on matters of public interest. [1]

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.



In the late 1870s, the Governor General of Canada, the Marquis of Lorne, determined that Canada required a cultural institution to promote national scientific research and development. Since that time, succeeding Governors General have remained involved with the affairs of the Society. In 1882, the Royal Society of Canada was founded with the personal patronage of the Marquis of Lorne. A year later, in 1883, the Society was incorporated by a statute of the Parliament of Canada.

Governor General of Canada representative of the monarch of Canada

The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. The person of the sovereign is shared equally both with the 15 other Commonwealth realms and the 10 provinces of Canada, but resides predominantly in her oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom. The Queen, on the advice of her Canadian prime minister, appoints a governor general to carry out most of her constitutional and ceremonial duties. The commission is for an unfixed period of time—known as serving at Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the normal convention. Beginning in 1959, it has also been traditional to rotate between anglophone and francophone officeholders—although many recent governors general have been bilingual. Once in office, the governor general maintains direct contact with the Queen, wherever she may be at the time.

Parliament of Canada the federal legislative branch of Canada

The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislature of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the national capital. The body consists of the Canadian monarch, represented by a viceroy, the Governor General; an upper house, the Senate; and a lower house, the House of Commons. Each element has its own officers and organization. By constitutional convention, the House of Commons is dominant, with the Senate and monarch rarely opposing its will. The Senate reviews legislation from a less partisan standpoint and the monarch or viceroy provides royal assent to make bills into law.

From its founding until the early 1900s, the structure of the RSC imitated the model of the Royal Society of London, but with the important addition of literature and other elements found in the Institut de France. Like their counterparts, membership to the RSC was limited and by election. Initially, the RSC was divided into four sections, each of 20 Fellows. These sections were: (1) Littérature française, Histoire, Archéologie; (2) English Literature, History, Archaeology; (3) Mathematical, Physical and Chemical Sciences; and (4) Geological and Biological Sciences. The founding Fellows of the RSC included Sir Sandford Fleming, the originator of the world system of Standard Time, and Sir William Osler, one of the greatest physicians of his time. The Fellows of the RSC were nominated by a committee directed by the Principal of McGill University, Sir John William Dawson, and by the former Premier of Quebec, Pierre Chauveau. These two men served as the first and second Presidents of the Society.

Institut de France French learned society, grouping five académies

The Institut de France is a French learned society, grouping five académies, including the Académie française.

McGill University English-language university in Montreal, Quebec

McGill University is a public research university in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was established in 1821 by royal charter, granted by King George IV. The university bears the name of James McGill, a Montreal merchant originally from Scotland whose bequest in 1813 formed the university's precursor, McGill College.

As Canadian scholarship and research increased, the RSC also grew. Within three decades, the fellowship of the RSC doubled in number. After several phases of restructuring, the RSC evolved its contemporary organization. In 2010, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Lloyd Johnston, Governor General of Canada, was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Society.

Organization and purpose

The Royal Society of Canada currently consists of more than 2,000 Fellows: men and women from all branches of learning who have made contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life. [2] Presently, the fellowship comprises four categories: Regularly Elected Fellows, Specially Elected Fellows, Foreign Fellows and Honorary Fellows.

Each year, approximately 80 people are elected to the fellowship. This cohort includes approximately 75 Regularly Elected Fellows recommended by the Divisions, as many as six Specially Elected Fellows, as many as four Foreign Fellows, and a maximum of one Honorary Fellow. Once inducted into the Society, anglophone Fellows may use the post-nominal letters FRSC (Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada) and francophone Fellows may use MSRC (Membre de la Société royale du Canada). The RSC is composed of three bilingual Academies, including a broad range of scholarly disciplines and artistic fields.

Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles or designatory letters, are letters placed after a person's name to indicate that that individual holds a position, academic degree, accreditation, office, military decoration, or honour, or is a member of a religious institute or fraternity. An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters, but in some contexts it may be customary to limit the number of sets to one or just a few. The order in which post-nominals are listed after a name is based on rules of precedence and what is appropriate for a given situation. Post-nominal letters are one of the main types of name suffix. In contrast, pre-nominal letters precede the name rather than following it.

Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Canada judges to have "made remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life".

Academy I is the Academy of Arts and Humanities. There are three divisions of Academy I: an anglophone Division (I) - Humanities; a francophone division (II) – Lettres et sciences humaines; and a bilingual division for the Arts (III) – The Arts/Les Arts; embracing architecture, creative writing and the arts. Academy II is the Academy of Social Sciences. There are two divisions of Academy II: an anglophone division (I) – Social Sciences; and a francophone division (II) – Sciences sociales. Academy III is the Academy of Science. There are four bilingual divisions of Academy III: (I) - Applied Sciences and Engineering; (II) - Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences; (III) - Life Sciences; and (IV) - Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

The Society is dedicated to making its members’ varied knowledge available to the public. Members are available to assess issues of presumed value to Canadians and provide independent expert advice, notably to government on matters of public policy through its program of Expert Panel reports.

Academies of the RSC Organigram.png

The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists

The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the RSC was established in 2014 to represent emerging generation of intellectual leaders in Canada. It elects 80-100 members each year, who showed high level of accomplishments at early stage of their careers. At the time of election, members of the College must have received PhD or equivalent degree within past 15 years. Nomination of candidates for the College follows similar procedures as nomination for the Fellows of RSC. [3]

Institutional members

The RSC officially began the Institutional Member (IM) Programme in 2004. The goal was to provide a mechanism by which the Society could develop its programmes in conjunction with Canadian universities, and by which universities could have formal and direct input into the strategic organization and governance of the Society. This closer relationship facilitates the nomination of new Fellows from all Canadian universities, and provides a means for the Society to sponsor scholarly activities at institutions of all sizes across Canada. Presently 46 universities and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) are Institutional Members of the Society.

Medals and awards

Headquarters of the Royal Society of Canada in Ottawa Royal Society of Canada head office.png
Headquarters of the Royal Society of Canada in Ottawa

The RSC recognizes notable achievements in research and innovation by awarding medals and prizes. Twenty Society awards are offered on an annual or biennial basis and consist of either medals or certificates, some of them with cash prizes. These awards are as follows:


Unlike the UK Royal Society of London, the Royal Society of Canada includes a broader field, including the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Hence, artists and sociologists are also eligible to be elected into the society.

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  1. "The Royal Society of Canada" . Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  2. "Royal Society of Canada | Research". Research. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  3. "The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists" (PDF). Retrieved April 1, 2019.