Chad Gaffield is Distinguished University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He also holds the University Research Chair in Digital Scholarship (2019-2024). Gaffield returned to campus in September 2014 after serving as President and CEO of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) during 2006-2014. For 2017-2019, he was the President of the Royal Society of Canada.
An expert on the sociocultural history of 19th- and 20th-century Canada, Gaffield has been at the forefront of efforts to develop digital technologies that expand, deepen, and facilitate research, teaching and public engagement. His scholarship focuses in particular on Canada’s official languages in their changing socio-cultural, economic and demographic contexts since the early nineteenth century. He has also studied socio-demographic change in the Ottawa Valley as well as childhood and family history during the nineteenth-century development of mass schooling. From 2001 to 2008, Gaffield led the interdisciplinary, multi-institutional and cross-sectoral Canadian Century Research Infrastructure (CCRI) initiative, one of Canada’s largest and most innovative research projects in the social sciences and humanities. By developing digital technology to mine historical census enumerations and documentary evidence, CCRI is now enabling unprecedented temporal and spatial analyses of the forces that shaped the twentieth century. Gaffield’s own research using CCRI analyses the making of Canada’s official language dualism. Gaffield’s curren project examines the historical conceptual and technological underpinnings of the Digital Age (with an emphasis on Canada and the role of researchers especially historians).
A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he received the RSC’s 2004 J.B. Tyrrell Historical Medal given for outstanding contributions to the study of Canada. In 2011, Gaffield was awarded the international Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations’ Antonio Zampolli Prize which recognizes every three years a major research contribution. In 2015, he received a Doctor of Laws honoris causa from Carleton University. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017. Gaffield received his BA (Hons) and MA from McGill University and his PhD from the University of Toronto.