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What is the Canadian Association for Leisure Studies?

    The Canadian Association for Leisure Studies is a multidisciplinary group that promotes the
study of leisure from a variety of social science and humanities perspectives. CALS is a federally
incorporated association that links leisure researchers in Canada and abroad. CALS also assists in
disseminating the results of the study of leisure through congresses and publications.

    In the words of CALS first president, Tim Burton:

    CALS is a loose organization of persons interested in leisure research which has, as its prime
    responsibilities, (1) awarding the triennial Canadian Congress on Leisure Research to
    organizations interested in convening it (usually universities), and (2) maintaining
    communication among members between Congresses.

    CALS is governed by a Board of Directors elected at each Congress, which serves until the
    next. It has no paid staff, and only a small budget, obtained from a modest per capita levy
    added to the registration fee at each congress. Its Head Office moves with the Presidency.

    One of the functions of CALS is the awarding of the triennial Canadian Congress of Leisure
Research. There have now been ten triennial Canadian Congresses, and the eleventh will be held
in 2005. The last one, in 2002 in Edmonton, attracted 154 registrants from five countries. The
registration at other recent CCLR’s was: 150 at CCLR6 (1990 in Waterloo), 125 at CCLR7 (1993
in Winnipeg), 159 at CCLR8 (1996 in Ottawa), 117 at CCLR9 (1999 in Wolfville). Registrants at
the triennial Congresses come from university Recreation and Leisure Studies departments and a
broad range of other disciplinary and interdisciplinary departments, as well as government and not
for profit agencies.

    The various Congresses also have developed partnerships with the three Canadian journals,
Loisir et Société/Society and Leisure, Journal of Leisurability, and Journal of Applied Recreation
Research (now Leisure/Loisir). These partnerships have lead to the publication of Congress
presentations in both regular and special “Congress” issues of the journals.

    Between Congresses, CALS maintains communication among leisure scholars through two
mechanisms. The journal Leisure/ Loisir is the quarterly publication of the Canadian Association
for Leisure Studies (CALS) in cooperation with the Ontario Research Council on Leisure
(ORCOL). The CALS listserve, which has been in existence since 1993, assists in communication
among 250 leisure scholars worldwide.

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History of the Canadian Association for Leisure Studies

    Tim Burton has also prepared the following brief history of CALS:

    The first Canadian Congress on Leisure Research was convened in Quebec City in 1975,
    under the auspices of Laval University. It was conceived as a one-time event, with no
    conscious idea that it would become the first in a series of such congresses -- although there
    was discussion among some delegates about the need for a second Congress perhaps five years
    down the road!

    The success of the first Congress encouraged a group in Ontario to organize another, titled the
    Second Canadian Congress on Leisure Research, which was held in Toronto in 1978. It was at
    this Second Congress that a continuing series of conferences was first envisaged, together with
    the idea of a permanent organization to promote leisure research generally in Canada and,
    specifically, to take responsibility for the convening of the Congress. A group of delegates met
    and charged a small committee, headed by Jack Ellis from York University and Bill Knott
    from the Ontario Government, to prepare a proposal and constitution for a formal organization,
    which would be presented to delegates at a Third Congress tentatively scheduled to be held a
    year later in Edmonton.

    It soon became apparent that organizing a national conference in the absence of a formal
    organization with permanent resources could not be done in a few months. And so, it was not
    until 1981 that the Third Canadian Congress on Leisure Research convened in Edmonton. The
    proposal and constitution for a Canadian Association for Leisure Studies (CALS) was
    unanimously endorsed by delegates. The Association also settled on the triennial pattern for
    the convening of the Congress which had emerged for the first three congresses, since this
    appeared to be reasonable from a logistical standpoint. Two years later, in 1983, the
    Association received its Federal Charter. (

CALS and the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences

    CALS joined the Federation in 1996. It is certainly useful for CALS to be part of the larger
body of social science and humanities researchers in Canada, and CALS is kept abreast of
developments on the national scene with regard to promoting the value of the humanities and
social sciences. However, CALS has yet to see substantial tangible results of membership in the
Federation. Hopefully this will change. CALS has been present and active at the Federation’s
General Assemblies since 2001. CALS has participated in the discussions regarding “Scholarly
Associations” and has brought to the floor the difficulties that associations that joined the
Federation recently are having gaining access to SSHRC Travel Grant funding that the
associations of long standing take for granted. CALS seeks the Federation’s support in advocating
for changes to SSHRC not the least of which is the Aid to Occasional Research Conferences

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    In 1984, the then president of CALS, Tim Burton, submitted a paper “The Origins and
Evolution of Leisure Studies in Canada” to the Executive Director of SSHRC. In that paper he
described the role of recreation and leisure studies in scholarly pursuits and professional practice.
His main purpose in the submission was “to demonstrate that the field [had]… developed to the
point where it is a fully recognized field of study and practice in its own right and not simply a
supplementary interest of other fields and professions.” (p. 1) He detailed the scholarly
achievements of the leisure studies field including education programs at all post secondary levels
including Ph.D. programs, the journals, the scholarly organization (CALS) and the Congresses on
Leisure Research. He concluded by calling for SSHRC to recognize leisure research:

    These sources will confirm the general conclusion that recreation and leisure studies have
    developed to the point where the field is worthy of recognition as a distinct and legitimate area
    of academic study. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada has no
    Committee presently designated to handle applications in recreation and leisure studies. This
    means that researchers seeking support for studies in this area must be accommodated under
    one or other of the Council’s established Committees. Frequently, such applications do not fit
    well into the frames of reference for these established Committees. This is an unfortunate price
    that must be paid when a field of study is new, unclear in its focus, and small in its scope. But
    it is an unnecessary price – and an unreasonable one – to be paid by a field which has become
    established, has developed a clear focus and a formal body of knowledge, and is large in
    numbers of researchers….

    All of this leads one to suggest that the time is appropriate for the Social Sciences and
    Humanities Research Council to establish a Committee for Recreation and Leisure Studies as
    part of its regular adjudication system. (1984, pp. 6-7)

    That was 1984 – what has transpired in those 20 years? There are two parts to the answer to
that question – the organizational part and the researcher part. As an organization, CALS has
received no support from SSHRC; and the triennial Congresses have received sporadic support
(the 1996 Congress received some funding). The good news is that some researchers in selected
parts of the field have been successful in receiving SSHRC funding..

     Several weeks ago I reviewed the SSHRC Awards database to find out how leisure research is
treated by SSHRC’s granting programs. What projects related to leisure has SSHRC funded in the
fiscal years 1998/99 to 2002/03? Here are the results based on searching for funded projects which
listed their area of research as "leisure, recreation and tourism" (code 270):
      44 separate projects were funded - most for 2-3 years - SSHRC shows this as 95 projects
      Projects were in 9 programs
         o Canada Research Chairs (1- Trevor Slack @ U of Alberta, CRC in Sport Management)
         o Aid to Small Universities (1- Brock U, "Enhancing collaborative research")
         o Standard research grants (24 - including Gilles Pronovost, Susan Shaw, Bob Stebbins)
         o Aid to Occasional Conferences & International Congresses (1 - Colin Howell @ SMU,
             "Hockey in Historical and Contemporary Perspective"
         o Aid to Research and Transfer Journals (1 - Loisir et Société/Society and Leisure)

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        o  Doctoral Fellowships (12 - of which 2 appear to be U of Waterloo doctoral students -
           Charlene Shannon and Elizabeth Halpenny)
        o Community-University Research Alliances (1 - U de Québec @ Chicoutimi)
        o Exploring Social Cohesion in a Globalizing Era (2)
        o Society, Culture and Health of Canadians (1 - Jiri Zuzanek & colleagues associated
           with U of Waterloo)
     Projects were reviewed by 16 selection committees
     Projects were in 9 disciplines
     Projects were in 23 sub-disciplines
Leisure scholars have also been funded under community development (1 project), aging and
social gerontology (1 project), and social development and welfare (1 project), plus one Research
Development Initiative.

   In the past week, the SSHRC Canadian Graduate Scholarships Program Doctoral Scholarships
were announced. Four of the students applying to the University of Waterloo Recreation and
Leisure Studies program received funding from the CGS program. This is great recognition of our
young scholars in leisure studies.

    What does all of this show? It shows that some leisure researchers are being recognized by
SSHRC. Some niches are being recognized by SSHRC – particularly those related to disability,
quality of life, social development, leisure and society. Some scholars in these areas have received
what one described as “substantial and enduring…funding.” These scholars are conducting
research on a variety of topics related to leisure and leisure behaviour, and they are using a variety
of disciplinary approaches and methodologies. They are already doing what SSHRC’s
transformation is advocating. But there are considerable parts of leisure studies that are doing
wonderful, innovative, collaborative work that has not been recognized by SSHRC. In addition,
there is a substantial need to have mechanisms to bring these scholars together to enhance
communication as they share in both the planning of research and the disseminating of the results
of research.

    Hopefully the current SSHRC transformation process will enable both CALS and its Leisure
Studies scholars to advance. The proposed transformation process complements CALS’ mission
and is consistent with the needs and interests of leisure researchers through its emphasis on the
     The focus on multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary work;
     The importance of bringing people from different disciplinary backgrounds together to
        focus on particular issues/topics; and
     The importance of bringing researchers from different parts of Canada together


   The Board and the membership of CALS were sent the documents from both SSHRC and
CFHSS so that individuals could respond. Those individuals’ responses often reiterated the 20+
years of experiences with SSHRC that were noted in the background section. They also viewed

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this as CALS opportunity to increase the profile of the organization and of leisure studies as an
important field of study that is deserving of enduring support by the national granting council.

I. The SSHRC Proposal
To what extent does this vision support or hinder the vision and goals held by your
association and by researchers in your discipline or field?

    If SSHRC is truly committed to “provide a home for all scholars across the full range of social
sciences and humanities discipline” (p. 3) CALS would support this. That vision is consistent with
the mission of the Canadian Association for Leisure Studies. CALS would assert that we in leisure
research are already:
     Part of the new world with new needs (p. 7)
     Linking scholarship with human needs (p. 8)
     Training students through research for careers outside academe (p. 8)
     Helping to make surrounding communities thrive and prosper (p. 8)
     Dealing with the explosion of research activity (p. 9)
     Working in teams (p. 9)
     Working in problem driven research (p. 9)
But, we need ongoing broadly based funding to both the organization and the researchers in this
important area – leisure studies.

    If SSHRC is truly committed to “inclusiveness and openness” (p. 10) and recognizes that
leisure research is important to Canadians, then this vision can support both CALS and leisure

II. Research Networking and Linkages
To what degree do you agree with the diagnosis made and response suggested by SSHRC?

    The triennial Canadian Congress on Leisure Research serves a valuable function in linking
researchers. More importantly, it attracts scholars from all levels, from masters and doctoral
students to well established professors. This is something that cannot be said of all other scholarly

    The Congresses also make a point of making contact with local professionals to encourage
them to attend Congress sessions. CALS has members from outside academe – usually planners
and managers who are interested in using the research that is being presented at the Congresses. A
major initiative of the Eleventh Canadian Congress on Leisure Research is to link researchers and
professionals. An excerpt from CCLR11’s webpage addresses this point:

    In Canadian Literature, Hugh MacLennan’s “Two Solitudes” refers to the relationship between
    French and English Canadians, and the issue of identity. In the broad area that is Leisure
    Studies or Leisure Research, the “Two Solitudes” may be seen by some as “Research and
    Application”, or “Theory and Practice”. Academics have been criticized for generating
    published journal articles that are not read nor appreciated by practitioners. On the other hand,
    practitioners are sometimes criticized for failing to keep up with new thinking and research.

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    The challenge for academics and researchers is to make their new knowledge accessible,
    relevant, meaningful, and have an impact for practitioners and clients in the field. This is a
    challenge that, by necessity, we are obligated to face together. As both researchers and
    practitioners, we must ask “What is our identity?” and “How do we bridge this gap between
    what we are and what we want to be?”

    It is the aim of the Eleventh Canadian Congress on Leisure Research (CCLR 11) to enhance
    communication, collaboration, and understanding between scholars and practitioners, and
    between the varied disciplines and sub-disciplines that comprise the study of leisure. In this
    manner, the purpose of CCLR 11 will be to provide a forum for the discussion of topics
    important to the development and dissemination of new knowledge in order to advance the
    field of leisure. (

     With regard to an increased emphasis on linkages with groups outside of academia, i.e., users,
practitioners, community members etc.: we already know that this is important in our field. The
need to involve other groups and to communicate with other groups is essential. At the same time,
we also need to retain some distance so we can be critical outside observers. We are not
suggesting that everybody should be doing both of these things, but that if we think of our field as
a whole, and of social science/humanities research as a whole, we need some people who work
closely with groups outside academia, and others who could continue to do more independent
critical work. We also, though, need enhanced communication between and among these different
types of researchers.

   Leisure research often looks at people at the margins – our disadvantaged citizens. As such we
need to be extremely vigilant to ensure that linkages are developed with people lacking in social
and economic clout, people "at the margins". So, this means working in collaboration with
community groups, with activist groups, with disadvantaged populations etc.

    With regard to links with international associations: we have informal links with our fellow
leisure studies organizations in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia and New
Zealand. These links usually take the form of sharing of announcements about conferences and
publications. We occasionally discuss formalizing the links, but have decided that keeping them at
the informal level adequately serves our respective purposes.

III. Research Promotion
How does your association respond to this challenge?

   We do a good job of promoting the dissemination of research at the triennial Congress – but
what do we do in the intervening years? We use the triennial Congress to solicit submissions to the
Canadian journals that play an important role on the international scene.

    CALS’ journal Leisure/Loisir is one of the tools that we use to promote research. Published in
cooperation with the Ontario Research Council on Leisure, it is “devoted to disseminating research
in all areas of leisure, recreation, and tourism. The interdisciplinary nature of the journal makes it
of particular interest to academics, practitioners, administrators, and students”
( This is yet

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another example of the ways in which CALS and leisure scholars are already responding to this
challenge – but we need ongoing support.

    Ongoing links between CALS, the Congresses and the profession and public must be worked
on. The upcoming CCLR11 has this as one of its primary missions – this and future Congresses
are worthy of SSHRC support. Any support that would get leisure research into the hands of
professionals would be welcomed – one avenue would be through support to the existing Leisure
Information Network, a centre for information exchange supported by the governments of Canada
and Ontario (

IV. SSHRC Programs
What priorities would you place on current and/or proposed SSHRC support programs?

    The fact that CALS as an organization has really been outside the purview of SSHRC’s
programs for over 20 years - that CALS has been largely ignored and has been deliberately
excluded from the one program that would assist in its major activity, the triennial Congress, has
led CALS to have a difficult time answering the question “what existing programs at SSHRC are
most significant.”

    However, as noted extensively in the background to this response, while SSHRC has not
played a substantial role in the life of CALS as an organization, it has supported some leisure
researchers. What is most important at this stage in SSHRC’s life – its transformation – is that
CALS’ priorities are consistent with the proposed new direction of SSHRC:
     Bringing together researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds;
     Focusing on important individual and societal issues;
     Focusing on the changing socio-political-technological environment, and the impact on
       people’s lives;
     Putting research findings into practice;
     Focusing on policy relevance and social change.
We already do that which SSHRC apparently wants to enhance – this is an opportunity for
SSHRC to support an organization and scholars that are good examples of what it wants to do.

V. Collaborative Research and Tools
Do you agree that more collaborative research will respond to research needs?

    CALS, by its very nature, supports interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary
research. There is a pressing need for more multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research. Our
traditional disciplines have tended to be too inward looking, and we need to look at social and
societal issues from a variety of different perspectives. In leisure studies we have some
advantages here, because we are interdisciplinary internally. So, greater focus on multi-
disciplinary research will be good for us, and also we might be able to take such initiatives and
leadership in this direction.

   There is a place for both larger and smaller grant programs. However, as was evident in the
analysis in the background to this response, there are few large scale projects in leisure research.

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Given that many of our leisure scholars operate in small universities, there must be a place for
small projects supported by smaller grants as well as the large scale projects. Much exciting
leisure research comes from the scholars in smaller institutions whose research is worthy of
support. What is really important to leisure researchers is the opportunity to discuss and
collaborate with their far-flung colleagues. What is needed is a flexible system of support that is
geared to the nature of the initiative, its line of research and its scope.

VI. Student Support and the Next Generation of Scholars
Does the plan outlined by SSHRC address the most important and pressing matters for new
scholars in your discipline or field?

    Support for our new and future scholars is absolutely essential. Recently announced support at
the doctoral level is encouraging. Our new scholars must then be supported with start up funding
to move their research base from the topics of their dissertations to topics that will continue their
careers in their new locations. It is a potentially traumatic move from the supported environment
of the PhD institution to the new life of the independent scholar who must juggle the priorities of
teaching and service with the need to set up a new research career in a new location. Many leisure
scholars base their research on the local setting and thus require support to establish a network of
contacts, to develop the new research program, and to travel to scholarly conferences. A
suggestion that came from one CALS member was that there should be some sort of “granting
orientation” to new SSHRC grantees, to introduce themselves and their work to each other,
establish connections and share resources. This would be a fine part of a start up grant.

    Support must start early in the careers of our future scholars. There is a need to support not just
masters and doctoral students. Many of our education programs focus on undergraduate education,
thus there is a need for support for our undergraduate honours and project research. This is the
group that we must capture and nurture to ensure that there are graduate students in the future.

VII. What general remarks would your Association like to make on the future organization

    Many of the comments that could be made here have already been made in the background
comments. Leisure researchers are doing fine research that is recognized nationally and
internationally. However, support by SSHRC has not covered the full breadth of our field. CALS
as an organization has not received SSHRC support. CALS Board and its members applaud this
transformation exercise and hopes that this process will result in opening SSHRC’s doors more
widely to leisure research in Canada.

                                                               Prepared by Susan Markham-Starr
                                                                              President of CALS
                                                                     Based on contributions from
                                                                CALS Board and CALS members

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