Bill Mason solo canoeing.

Bill Mason Memorial Scholarship

The Bill Mason Memorial Scholarship is a tribute to the late Bill Mason, a Canadian recognized both nationally and internationally as an avid canoeist, environmentalist, filmmaker, photographer, artist and public speaker.


Established by Paddle Canada in 1990, with the permission and input of the Mason Family, the scholarship is intended to incorporate some of the characteristics that made Bill Mason unique and to help ensure that the memory, spirit and ideals that he represented are kept fresh in the minds of Canadians.

Paddle Canada is proud to award this annual scholarship of $1,000 to assist with the education of tomorrow’s environmental stewards – those people who help make a difference in the kind of world we live in today and pass on to future generations.

About Bill Mason: Artist, Paddler, Environmentalist, Inspired Filmmaker

bill mason helmet

Few people have had the influence that Bill had in shaping the Canadian identity. His films, produced at the National Film Board, have been “mainstays in Canadian schools for the last 40 years,” says his friend, cameraman, and biographer Ken Buck.

Born in Winnipeg in 1929, Bill Mason showed an early interest in both art and canoeing. As a youth, he was a Manitoba Pioneer Camp guide and instructor. After he graduated from the Manitoba School of Art with a Diploma in Commercial Art, he worked as a commercial artist in Winnipeg, taking the summers off to go canoeing. Bill’s strong Christian beliefs helped develop his views on environmental responsibility.

Later, as a film animator with Crawley Films in Chelsea, Quebec, and then as a filmmaker with the National Film Board of Canada (1962-1984), Bill was able to combine his skills in art, photography, and animation to write, produce, direct, and act in his own films.

Many of his 19 films received nominations for nearly 70 different international awards and were recognized with five Canadian Film Awards, four Golden Sheaf Awards (Yorkton Film Festival), three British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards (BAFTA) and two OSCAR nominations.

Bill married Joyce Ferguson in 1959. “She was his touchstone with reality, tempering his manic work ethic,” according to Ken Buck. Their children, Paul and Becky are themselves accomplished artists and internationally recognized canoeists.

Application and Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the Bill Mason Memorial Scholarship, applicants must be:

  • A Canadian Citizen
  • Enrolled full-time at a Canadian University or College
  • Enrolled in undergraduate studies, second (2nd) year or higher standing
  • Enrolled in an Outdoor Recreation, Environmental Studies or other related program
  • Have an academic standing of B+ (75%) or higher

Entry Requirements

There is no standard scholarship application form. Candidates must complete their application as per the criteria established in the updated 2021 application entry requirements.

Application Deadline

Applications open: May 1, 2021
Applications close: September 30, 2021
Applications must be postmarked by midnight September 30, 2021

Helpful Hints for Completing your Application

If you need help, do not be afraid to ask. Feel free to contact Paddle Canada if you have any questions or concerns. A university counselor, college advisor, your parents, or even another student may also be of service.

Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Make certain to complete all sections, as incomplete sections will be awarded a value of zero.

Proofread, proofread, and proofread again! Misspelling and grammar errors may reflect poorly on your application. Have a friend or relative double-check your work.

Make certain your application is received on time. Deadline for applications is midnight 30-September of the current academic year. Incomplete or late packets will be rejected unless Paddle Canada is given prior notification. Therefore we strongly recommend that you:

  • Send your application by Express Post or Priority Courier to ensure that your application can be tracked.
  • Email us with the date and tracking number of your package as proof you have met the application deadline (in the event the package is lost and/or does not get delivered on time).

Write a letter of thanks if you receive an award. Other than being the polite thing to do, if you are planning to apply for scholarships again in the future, a thank you letter for past scholarships goes a long way in impressing the scholarship committee.

How to Apply

Submit your completed scholarship application to:

Bill Mason Memorial Scholarship Fund
c/o Paddle Canada | Pagaie Canada
PO Box 126 Station Main
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 4V6

Toll-free: 888-252-6292
[email protected]

On behalf of the Scholarship Committee, Paddle Canada would also like to extend our sincerest thanks to the many individuals whose generous donations have contributed to the stewardship dream of Bill Mason.

**NEW for 2020**

We have partnered with the Canadian Canoe Foundation (CCF) on the delivery of the Bill Mason Memorial Scholarship fund. Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation to support the fund (please make sure that you have the BMMSF selected on the drop-down menu on the donation page).

Past Recipients of the Bill Mason Memorial Scholarship Fund

2020-2021Evan Sullivan, University of Northern British Columbia, Wildland Conservation and Recreation program. 
2019–2020Sarah Wiley, University of Calgary, Bachelor of Science in Zoology
2018–2019Olivia Mater, Trent University, Geography and Indigenous Studies
2016–2017Maeve MacDonald, Laurentian University, McEwen School of Architecture
2015–2016Amber Dyck, University of Ottawa, Environmental Science
2014–2015Gabriel Rivest, Yukon College, Wildlife Ecology Management
2013–2014Lindsey Haist, University of Waterloo, Bachelor of Environmental Studies
2012–2013Kevin Amirault, Laurentian University, Bachelor of Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program
2011–2012Emma Drudge, University of King’s College, Halifax, NS, Combined Degree in Journalism and Environment & Sustainability.
2010–2011Allison Bray, University of Northern British Columbia, Bachelor of Planning in Natural Resources Planning and Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management (Double Major)
2009–2010Daniel Kilburn, Lakehead University (Ontario), School of Outdoor Recreation, Leadership, Parks and Tourism
2008–2009Robertson Gibb, McMaster University (Ontario), Bachelor Engineering Management, Water & Environment
2007–2008Sarah Champagne, University of Northern British Columbia (British Columbia), Bachelor of Science, Honours Biology
2006–2007Erin Rechsteiner, Malaspina University College (British Columbia), Bachelor of Science, Honours Geography and Biology
2005–2006Dan Thompson, McMaster University (Ontario), Honours Earth & Environmental Sciences: Hydroscience
2004–2005Shandell Susin, University of Victoria (British Columbia), Bachelor of Arts,Environmental & Gender Studies
2003–2004Erick Pay, University of Manitoba (Manitoba), Recreation Studies
2002–2003Lyle Wood, Wilfrid Laurier University (Ontario), Honours Geography, emphasis on Recreation
2001–2002Nicole Koshur, University of British Columbia (British Columbia), Environmental Science
2000–2001Kirsty MacDonald, University of British Columbia (British Columbia), Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
1999–2000No information available.
1998–1999Colin Alexander, Lakehead University (Ontario), Outdoor Recreation Parks & Tourism, Honours
1997–1998William Talbot, University College of the Cariboo (British Columbia), Adventure Travel Guide Diploma Program
1996–1997Amanda Thompson, Lakehead University (Ontario), Outdoor Recreation Parks & Tourism, Honours
1995–1996Teresa Johnston, York University (Ontario), Environmental Sciences
1994–1995J Andrew Whitehead, University of Guelph (Ontario)
1993–1994Timothy Shuff, Lakehead University (Ontario), Outdoor Recreation, Honours
1992–1993Jason Merry, Acadia University (Nova Scotia)
1991–1992Morten Asfeldt, University of Alberta (Alberta)