Massey Medal

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The Massey Medal was established to honour those who have contributed to the exploration, development or description of Canada’s geography.

Established in 1959 by the Massey Foundation, the Massey Medal is awarded annually by the Society. Its purpose is to recognize outstanding career achievement in the exploration, development or description of the geography of Canada. Eligibility is restricted to Canadian citizens, although in special circumstances, the Medal may be awarded to a non-Canadian, subject to agreement by the Massey Foundation. It is always awarded to an individual, never a group. In a year in which no nominee is deemed to qualify, the Medal may be withheld.

The presentation of the Massey Medal is usually made at Rideau Hall by the Society’s Patron, the Governor General, when His/Her Excellency’s schedule permits. In years when this is not possible, a special award ceremony is held in conjunction with the College of Fellows Annual Dinner in Ottawa, with the President of the Society presiding.

See past Massey Medal winners.

Looking to nominate someone?

How to nominate

Please look outside your organization, as well as within, when considering who might be an outstanding nominee. In considering suitable nominees, you are encouraged to be inclusive, in respect to gender and the diversity of Canadians.

You may submit one or more nominations for the medal using the form at the bottom of this page.

Annual deadline for nominations: January 15th

The Committee will retain nominations under consideration for a period of three years.

2020 Massey Medal recipient: Dr. John Smol

Dr. John Smol has shifted how we think about the Canadian landscape — and how we monitor and assess its ecology. From the northern stretches of Ellesmere Island in the Arctic to the southern border, from the coasts of the Pacific eastward to Newfoundland, Smol has explored how our ecosystems have changed — both over time and over geography. An ecologist, limnologist and palaeolimnologist, Smol has taken a novel approach to studying lake and river sediments — techniques he developed in Canada that have since been adopted all over the world, leading to better protections for lake ecosystems.

Not just a scientist, Smol is a champion for the ecosystems he and his team have studied, explaining the science to students and the general public alike — to help people grasp the realities of climate change and rapidly changing polar regions. Smol now holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change at Queen’s University, where he founded, and now co-directs, the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), which is dedicated to the study of long-term global environmental change. In 2013, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is proud to award the Massey Medal to Dr. John Smol for his outstanding contributions to environmental science — and how we understand it.

Nominate for the Massey Medal

Only nominations submitted by the nomination deadline (January 15, 2021) will be considered for the 2021 Massey Medal. Nominations submitted after the deadline will be considered in the following year. Submissions must be filled out in their entirety and cannot be accessed again.

NOTE: This form does not have an automatic save function. Please ensure that you save your work elsewhere to ensure it is not lost in completing this process.

Nominator Name*
Is the Nominator an RCGS Fellow?*

Brief description of nominator including relationship to nominee

Nominee Name*
Is the Nominee a Canadian citizen?*

(up to 1,000 characters)

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Please upload a two-page (maximum) nomination letter that: • specifically describes the nominee’s tangible accomplishments in relation to the award criteria • justifies why the individual is worthy of the Massey Medal This letter is very important in the assessment of the nomination

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Please upload an abridged version of the nominee's curriculum vitae, including a selected bibliography listing a maximum of ten (10) of the nominee's principal published works. A strictly enforced total maximum of ten (10) pages is available for both the CV and list of publications.

Drop files here or

Up to two additional one-page letters of support for particular aspects of the nominee's achievements may be uploaded.

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