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National Research Council of Canada

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National Research Council of Canada

National Research Council
Conseil national de recherches Canada
Agency overview
Formed 1916
Jurisdiction Government of Canada
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario
Employees 4,100
Minister responsible Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry
Agency executive Mr. John McDougall, President

The National Research Council (NRC) is an agency of the Government of Canada which conducts scientific research and development.


The NRC was established in 1916 under the pressure of World War I to advise the government on matters of science and industrial research. In 1932, laboratories were built on Sussex Drive in Ottawa.

With the impetus of World War II, the NRC grew rapidly and for all practical purposes became a military science and weapons research organization. It undertook a number of important projects, which included participation with the United States and United Kingdom in the development of chemical and germ warfare agents, the explosive RDX, the proximity fuse, radar, and submarine detection techniques. A special branch known as the Examination Unit was involved with cryptology and the interception of enemy radio communications. The NRC was also engaged in atomic fission research at the Montreal Laboratory, then the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario.

Post-WWII, the NRC reverted to its pre-war civilian role and a number of wartime activities were spun off to newly formed organizations. Military research continued under a new organization, the Defence Research Board. Atomic research went to the newly created Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Foreign signals intelligence gathering officially remained with the agency when, by Order in Council, the Examination Unit became the Communications Branch of the NRC in 1946. The CBNRC was transferred to the Department of National Defence in 1975, and renamed the Communications Research Establishment. During the 1950s, the medical research funding activities of the NRC were handed over to the newly formed Medical Research Council of Canada. Finally, on May 1, 1978, with the rapid post-war growth of Canadian universities the NRC's role in university research funding in the natural sciences was passed to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Under financial pressure in the 1980s, the federal government produced what popularly became known as the Neilson Report, which recommended across-the-board financial cuts to all federal government organizations, including the NRC. This led to staff and program cutbacks. Recovery was slow, but the NRC has managed to regain its status as Canada's single most important scientific and engineering research institution among many other Canadian government scientific research organizations.

Today, much of the NRC's focus is on developing partnerships with private and public-sector technology companies, both nationally and internationally. The Council will be celebrating its centenary in 2016.

Product innovations

Some of the many innovations by NRC personnel included the artificial pacemaker, development of canola (rapeseed) in the 1940s, the Crash Position Indicator in the 1950s, and the Cesium Beam atomic clock in the 1960s.

The NRC played a key role in the birth of computer animation, working with the National Film Board of Canada and animator Peter Foldès on the 1971 experimental film Metadata and the 1974 short film Hunger.[1][2]

More recently, the NRC has been highly influential in the field of audio. A great deal of research at the NRC has gone into the designs of many popular speakers from Canadian speaker manufacturers like PSB Speakers, Energy Loudspeakers and Paradigm Electronics. Some of their research has also influenced speaker designs around the world.

Furthermore, the NRC makes a widespread impact on product developments through its involvement in supporting the small to medium-sized business sector. Through a program knowan as IRAP - the Industrial Research Assistance Program - the NRC provides grants and financial support to business' looking to bring new and innovative technologies to the market [3] Recently, the NRC gave a high-value grant to a small jewellery company, Dimples Fingerprint Jewellery, for its innovative maunfacturing process and use of green technologies [4]

At National Research Council - Institute for Research in Construction (NRC-IRC) an ongoing research study on solid-state lighting is investigating this promising lighting technology and its effects on human beings [5]

Agencies with special relationships with the NRC

Specialized agencies and services which have branched out of the NRC include:

Planning and reporting

The NRC reports yearly within the Treasury Board Secretariat's Results-Based Management Framework. The NRC is currently guided by a strategic plan for 2006-2011: Science at Work for Canada.[6]


Close to 4,000 people across Canada are employed by the NRC. In addition, the Council also employs guest workers from universities, companies, and public and private-sector organizations. [1]


The NRC is managed by a governing council. Current members of the council are: Patricia Béretta, Louis Brunel, John McDougall (President and Chairman), Delwyn Fredlund, Wayne Gulliver, James Hatton, Joseph Hubert, Pascale Michaud, Gilles Patry, Alan Pelman, Louise Proulx, René Racine, Salma Rajwani, Inge Russell, Barbara Stanley, Howard Tennant, Jean-Claude Villiard, and Louis Visentin.

Cold War

According to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service website, the NRC headquarters in Ottawa "was a prime espionage target" during the Cold War.[7]

Change in research direction, and role in muzzling scientists

In 2011, NRC President John McDougall began to oversee a change in research focus away from basic research and towards industrial-relevant research.[8] This included the development of several "flagship programs", shifting research budget out of existing research and into a few focused programs. One flagship program, "Algal Carbon Conversion", is related to prior interests of Mr. McDougall, as he previously headed Innoventures, a company involved in lobbying for the development of an algae system to recycle carbon emissions.[9] The NRC was not involved in this area of research prior to the arrival of Mr. McDougall.

Under the tenure of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canadian Government research organizations began to restrict the ability of government scientists to communicate with the public.[10] This includes restricting scientists within the NRC to communicate with the public through non-scientist communications personnel. In June, 2012, the federal opposition made a motion in parliament "That, in the opinion of the House, Canadian scientific and social science expertise is of great value and, therefore, the House calls on the Government to end its muzzling of scientists; to reverse the cuts to research programs at Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Library and Archives Canada, National Research Council Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; and to cancel the closures of the National Council of Welfare and the First Nations Statistical Institute."[11]


Scientific Research

Engineering Research

  • Institute for Aerospace Research (NRC-IAR) - Ottawa, ON; Montreal, QC
  • Centre for Surface Transportation Technology (NRC-ST) - Ottawa, ON; Vancouver, BC
  • Canadian Hydraulics Centre (NRC-CHC) - Ottawa, ON
  • Institute for Ocean Technology (NRC-IOT) - St. John's, NL
  • Institute for Microstructural Sciences (NRC-IMS) - Ottawa, ON
  • Industrial Materials Institute (NRC-IMI) - Boucherville, QC; London, ON; Saguenay (Chicoutimi), QC
  • Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology (NRC-ICPET) - Ottawa, ON
  • Institute for Energy Mining & Environment (NRC-EME) - Vancouver, BC
  • Institute for Information Technology (NRC-IIT) - Ottawa, ON; Gatineau, QC; Fredericton and Moncton, NB
  • Institute for Research in Construction (NRC-IRC) - Ottawa, ON; London, ON; Regina, SK (Centre for Sustainable Infrastructure Research)

Support Institutes

NRC Aerospace Fleet

The NRC has a fleet of aircraft for their research purposes:[12]

  • Bell 412 Advanced Systems Research Aircraft
  • Bell 205 airborne simulator
  • Convair 580 - for atmospheric testing
  • Falcon 20 - aerospace and geoscience testing
  • Twin Otter - atmospheric and biospheric studies, and for flight mechanics and flight systems development
  • [2]
  • Canadair T-33 - flight training
  • Extra 300 - studying pilot perception in a dynamic environment

Research Aircraft

  • NRC Pterodactyl VIII

See also


External links

NRC and Its Institutes

  • National Research Council Canada Main Page
  • Electronic magazine of the National Research Council - Dimensions
  • NRC-Institute for Research in Construction
  • NRC-Institute for National Measurement Standards
  • NRC-Institute for Information Technology (NRC-IIT)
  • NRC Research Press
  • NRC-Institute for Biological Sciences (NRC-IBS)
  • NRC-Institute for Biodiagnostics (NRC-IBD)
  • NRC-Institute for Ocean Technology (NRC-IOT)
  • NRC-Plant Biotechnology Institute
  • NRC Careers - Employment Equity
  • The NRC Aerodynamics Laboratory, which includes several wind tunnel testing facilities
  • The NRC Centre for Surface Transportation Technology


  • DPR 2003-2004 - National Research Council Canada
  • NRC Associate Committee on Scientific Criteria for Environmental Quality - Environmental Fluoride 1977
  • TRIUMF - Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics
  • Collaboration between NRC & Canada Council for the Arts
  • National Ultrahigh Field NMR Facility for Solids

Coordinates: 45°26′46″N 75°37′01″W / 45.44623°N 75.61698°W / 45.44623; -75.61698

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