Institute of Intergovernmental Relations


Ronald Lampman Watts

It is with great sorrow that we announce the death on October 9th of Principal Emeritus Ronald L. Watts, a Fellow and former Director of the Queen’s Institute of Intergovernmental Relations.  A prolific and respected scholar of federalism, Ron contributed hugely to the advancement of the theory and practice of federalism both by his scholarship and by the sage advice that he so unstintingly made available to the many governments that sought his counsel.  He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. - John Allan, Interim Director, IIGR

Ronald Lampman Watts,born March 10, 1929 in Karuizawa, Japan; died October 9, 2015 in Kingston, Ontario.  Born to Canadian Anglican missionary parents in Japan, Principal Emeritus Watts of Queen's University commenced his education in that country, subsequently moving to Trinity College School in Port Hope and then Trinity College at the University of Toronto.  Receiving a Rhodes Scholarship in 1952, he continued his studies at Oxford University, from which he received a B.A. (1954) and a D.Phil. (1963) in Political Studies.  He and Donna Paisley married in 1954, establishing a lifelong partnership that sustained their extensive educational, scholarly and policy-oriented activities.

Dr. Watts’s career at Queen's University began in 1955, when he joined the faculty in the Department of Philosophy, moving six years later to Political Studies.  Shortly thereafter, he became first an Assistant Dean and then Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, and then, from 1974 to 1984, Principal and Vice-Chancellor.  While in Political Studies, he pioneered the study of British Dominions and emerged as a leading international scholar of federalism, playing decisive roles throughout the world in organizations concerned with intergovernmental relations.  In 1989 he assumed the Directorship of the Queen’s Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, and, as a Fellow, has been continuously involved with the Institute since then.  His expertise was enlisted at the highest levels by Canadian federal and provincial governments, and by a multiplicity of countries, including Nigeria, Uganda, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Yugoslavia, Pakistan and India.  He served as a member of the Pepin-Robarts Committee on Canada’s Future, and as an advisor to Premier Peterson on the Meech Lake Accord.  There was, however, a lighter side to Ron Watts: he had a lifelong interest in and an encyclopaedic knowledge of aviation and aviation history, and was a fiercely competitive sailor who competed with considerable success at national and international levels.  Perhaps most importantly, he was a wonderfully kind and helpful mentor to numerous young scholars.

A prolific and respected scholar, his immense contributions both to academe and society at large were recognized by the receipt of five honorary degrees, by his appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1979, followed by his promotion to Companion in 2000, and by his Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada.

Ron's wife of 61 years, Donna, has requested donations in his memory be made to the J A Corry Memorial Endowment fund.

Cheques payable to "Queen's University" with "in memory of Ronald Watts" in the memo field can be mailed to:

Queen's University
Attn: Brenda Forbes
Office of Advancement
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6