Mission: We are committed to the greatest of Canada's natural resources: our youth. We work to identify and support talented students who show promise of leadership and a strong commitment to service in the community. We fund these citizens to study on Canadian campuses, to the benefit of their future and ours.


Founded in 1988, The Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation was the first national organization in Canada to grant scholarships based on a mix of academic achievement, extracurricular activity and leadership potential.

CMSF’s founders responded to what they recognized as a gap in the Canadian system of merit-based financial assistance to university students. Such assistance tended to be directed to two groups - those with exceptionally high academic averages, via university scholarship programs, and those with exceptional abilities as athletes, via national teams programs. Only a small proportion of overall financial aid was directed at those who show promise of the leadership and other talents that will make their communities better places both during and after their university careers.

In his published account of the founding of CMSF, Dr. Robert Cluett, the founding CEO of CMSF, notes that at the heart of CMSF is the belief that, in granting awards to young people, “breadth, openness to challenge, and willingness to take risk are many times more important than any quantitative measure of promise.” It is a belief that we all still hold quite strongly today.

In 1997, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation became the principal supporter of CMSF, thereby doubling the size of our program. In the subsequent thirteen years, the Foundation invested in nearly 200 W. Garfield Weston Loran Scholars.

In February 2007, CMSF named its premier merit scholarship the Loran Scholar program. The name was chosen because Loran is used for long-range navigation and we emphasize long-term relationships with our scholars and long-term impact on our communities. As a navigation system, Loran requires three points. These three points correspond with our three core values - character, service and leadership - which we hope our scholars will continue to use to chart their own courses.

CMSF was founded as — and remains — an independent charitable organization governed by a board of directors. Since its founding, CMSF has become the leading independent granting agency for undergraduate study in Canada. Over time, it has developed a collaborative relationship with 25 Canadian universities, each of which provides tuition grants and on-campus advisers for Loran Scholars.