Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Canada: American Philanthropy and the Arts and Letters in Canada


281 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-2868-7
DDC 361.7'632'0971




M. Wayne Cunningham is a past executive director of the Saskatchewan
Arts Board and the former director of Academic and Career Programs at
East Kootenay Community College.


Queen’s University professor Jeffrey Brison’s thorough and
thought-provoking study sheds light on the shadowy influence that
American “big business” robber barons John D. Rockefeller and Andrew
Carnegie in particular exerted on pre–Canada Council Canada through
their philanthropic foundations. With a series of eye-opening
revelations, Brison establishes how subtly yet firmly grants to
Canada’s literati and intelligentsia were controlled by—and
conformed to—the American agenda, at least until the leavening
influence of the newly created Canada Council with its mandate to foster
and enhance Canadian cultural initiatives.

Brison’s well-organized and meticulously researched treatise
comprises three main sections. Part 1, Building Foundations, surveys
“the business of benevolence” in one chapter and describes the early
years of American philanthropy in the next. Part 2 focuses on the
American philanthropic principles of “cultural interpretation” and
“imagined communities,” as well as on the implications of the
Carnegie Corporation’s largesse for Canadian arts and letters. Part 3
is a single-chapter discourse on American philanthropy and its influence
on intellectual development in Canada from 1930 to 1957. The book’s
supplementary materials include a list of foundation grants in Canada
from 1911 to 1950, extensive endnotes, and several pages of
bibliographic references.

Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Canada will appeal to academics, cultural
bureaucrats, government policy-makers, and general readers interested in
the ongoing debate over the American influence on Canada’s cultural


Brison, Jeffrey D., “Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Canada: American Philanthropy and the Arts and Letters in Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,