Beatty Memorial Lectures Series

A great McGill tradition

Established in 1952, the Beatty Memorial Lecture Series has brought some of the world’s leading thinkers to campus for a captivating public talk. The presenters also spend time meeting and exchanging ideas in smaller settings with faculty and students. 

On this website, you will find information about all the lectures, as well as many of the video recordings available online to watch. Keep reading to discover how your McGill department or Faculty can sponsor a lecture


64 years, 88 speakers: A History of the Beatty Lecture Series

The Beatty Memorial Lecture Series is named in honour of Sir Edward Beatty, McGill Chancellor from 1920 to 1943. The first Beatty Memorial Lecture was held on October 4, 1954 featuring Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Vice-President and then President of India. Sixty-four years later, the Beatty Memorial Lecture Series has featured over eighty-eight speakers, ranging from Jane Goodall to Arthur Ashe, Mikhail Gorbachev to Margaret Atwood.

Now, as part of preparations for McGill’s bicentennial, Research and Innovation is finding and digitizing recordings, transcripts and photographs of Beatty lectures held in the McGill University Archives and looks forward to sharing this material and much more with the public in the near future. See the video above and slideshow below for a first look, and visit the website's Past Lectures page to view videos of lectures from 2004 to 2017.

(Photo credit: Margaret Atwood, 2016 Beatty Memorial Lecturer, photographer: Jean Malek)

From The Archives

Once called "the man with world's biggest job", Sir Edward Beatty steered both McGill and the Canadian Pacific Railway through the turbulent economic boom and bust years of the 1920s and 1930s. Photograph courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, photographer: Howard Coster.

Douglas Copland, Australian academic and economist, presented the 1961 Beatty Lecture on "The Changing Structure of the Western Economy". Photograph courtesy McGill University Archives.

Dr. Elizabeth Han Suyin, historian, physician and novelist (Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, And The Rain My Drink) presented the 1968 Beatty Lecture. Photograph courtesy McGill University Archives.

McGill's Currie Gymnaisum was filled to capacity for Dr. Elizabeth Han Suyin's 1968 Lecture titled "Asia Today: Two Outlooks". Photograph courtesy McGill University Archives.

What's the change you want to see in the world? If you have an idea for a future lecturer, we want to hear from you.