Generously endowed by University benefactors Brenda and David McLean, the Chair is occupied by a distinguished Canadianist for a period of two years. The McLean Chair teaches the Senior Seminar in Canadian Studies (CDST 450), and, in the second year of tenure, gives the McLean Lectures in Canadian Studies. These lectures are published by UBC Press in the McLean Series in Canadian Studies. The first volume in this series, Borderlands, by W. H. New, was issued in 1998; it was followed by Citizens Plus (2000), by Alan C. Cairns; Making Native Space (2002), by Cole Harris; Globalization and Well-Being (2002), by John F. Helliwell; and Do Glaciers Listen? Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters, and Social Imagination (2005), by Julie Cruikshank; On The Art Of Being Canadian (2009), by Sherrill Grace; and Big Tent Politics (2015), by Kenneth Carty.
The first McLean Chair was awarded to Professor Alan Cairns (Political Science); subsequent holders of the Chair have been Professor W. H. New (English), Professor Cole Harris (Geography), Professor John Helliwell (Economics), Professor Julie Cruikshank (Anthropology), Professor Sherrill Grace (English), Professor Ken Carty (Political Science), Professor John O’Brian (Art History), Professor Graeme Wynn (Geography), Professor Tina Loo (History), Professor Margery Fee (English), and Professor Michael Byers (Political Science), the current chair.