Founding Chair of Sociology at Trent University Receives Order of Canada


Professor Bernard Blishen family establishes prize in Canadian Sociology for Trent students

Friday, June 17, 2011, Peterborough

Founder and chair of Trent University’s Department of Sociology from 1964 to 1967, Professor Bernard Blishen was awarded the Order of Canada at a ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 27, 2011, recognizing his contribution in advancing sociology as an academic discipline in Canada.

One of Prof. Blishen’s significant accomplishments was the development of a socio-economic index now widely known as the “Blishen Scale”. In addition, he was the research director for the Royal Commission on Health Services that, in 1964, provided a plan for the national Medicare program

 “I feel greatly honoured to receive the Order of Canada. I appreciate the recognition of my role in the development of the discipline of sociology in Canada,” said Prof. Blishen.

In honour of his distinguished career and the significant contributions he made to Canadian sociology, the Blishen family has established the Bernard Blishen Prize in Canadian sociology at Trent University. The prize will be awarded to the graduating student with the best paper in Canadian sociology, as judged by the faculty.

“We felt it appropriate to honour our father by ensuring that his name will always be remembered in connection with the discipline that he loves, Canadian Sociology,” said Prof. Blishen’s daughter, Superior Court Justice Jennifer Blishen. “A prize for a worthy student at the university where he spent a great deal of his career seems fitting.”

Prof. Blishen was at Trent from its inception in 1964 until 1973. He helped develop the institution’s academic curriculum as a member of the Trent University Planning Committee from 1963 to 1964. He was the Dean of Graduate Studies from 1967 to 1973 and the Ashley Fellow from 1990 to 1991. As the founding chair of the Department of Sociology, he set the direction for a strong program grounded in an understanding of Canada through empirical and theoretical scholarship.

The first annual Bernard Blishen Prize will be awarded in 2012, funded by donations from Prof. Blishen’s seven grandchildren and his four children: Jennifer Blishen, Joan Macmillan, Susan Blishen and Peter Blishen.

In addition to his many achievements, Prof. Blishen was a visiting professor of the Social Science Research Council in London, England from 1973-1974 and during his career received the Columbia University Fellowship, the Laidlaw Fellowship, the Nuffield Travelling Fellowship and the SSHRCC Leave Fellowship. He received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association in 1990.  Prof. Blishen served on the Board of Directors of the Peterborough Civic Hospital from 1998 to 2000.  He and his wife of 64 years, Ruth, now reside in Ottawa.


For more information, please contact: Superior Court Justice Jennifer Blishen,