Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement


The Canada Council is committed to equity and inclusion, and encourages applications and nominations from culturally diverse, Deaf, disability and official language minority artists, groups and organizations. The Canada Council recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Indigenous peoples of this land and encourages applications and nominations from First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, groups, and organizations in all its programs. Measures are in place in all programs to support these commitments.

The Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement is awarded to either a practitioner of architecture or an architectural firm. The successful candidate must be in the early stages of a career or practice and must demonstrate both outstanding creative talent and exceptional potential in architectural design.

The successful candidate must demonstrate sensitivity to architecture’s allied arts, crafts and professions within the context of an integrated built environment. These include landscape architecture, interior design, furniture design, graphic design and decorative arts.

The award was established in 1990, in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts, by friends and colleagues of the eminent Canadian architect Ronald J. Thom. The award, which honours Mr. Thom’s life and work, reflects the qualities of his legacy to Canada. This legacy includes both his buildings and the encouragement and inspiration he gave his colleagues in architecture and its allied arts and professions.

Deadline – 1 October 2020

Your completed application form must be submitted by email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time). The Canada Council will not assess late or incomplete applications.

Application limits – you can apply once per year

Notification of results – approximately 4 months after the deadline date

Prize amount – $10,000

Eligibility – Who can apply?

Architects, architectural professionals and architectural firms specializing in architecture, landscape architecture and/or urban design can apply.

To apply for this award as an individual, you must be a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status, as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. You do not need to be living in Canada when you apply.

You must also meet one of the following definitions:


To be eligible as an architect, you must:

  • have maintained a professional practice for a minimum of 2 years
  • have completed a professional body of work
  • have published or have presented at least 1 work in a public setting

Professional in architecture

Professionals in architecture are engaged in the discourse and public dissemination of architecture. To be eligible as a professional in architecture, you must:

  • have maintained a professional practice for a minimum of 3 years
  • have completed a professional body of work
  • have published or have presented at least 1 work in a public setting

Architectural firm

Architectural firms can apply for projects that examine and present ideas on the Canadian contemporary built environment. To apply as an architectural firm, you must:

  • be incorporated in Canada
  • have been in operation at least 2 years
  • be at least 75 % Canadian-owned
  • have your head office in Canada
  • have maintained a professional practice for a minimum of 3 years
  • have completed a professional body of work
  • have been published or have presented work in a public setting

Application/Nomination Assistance

Application/Nomination Assistance contributes to costs for services to help with a prize application or nomination for individuals who self-identify as: 

  • Deaf, hard of hearing, having a disability or living with a mental illness
  • First Nations, Inuit or Métis facing language, geographic and/or cultural barriers.

To submit a request, contact the prizes officer 4 weeks prior to the deadline.

Assessment – How are decisions made?

Peer evaluation is fundamental to the Canada Council’s decision-making process. A peer assessment committee, composed of experienced professionals selected by the Canada Council for their expertise in their field of practice, will assess the eligible applications. Committee members will also be selected with consideration to fair representation of artistic specializations, Canada’s 2 official languages, Indigenous peoples, Deaf and disability communities, gender, age and the cultural and regional diversity of Canada.

The peer assessment committee may decide not to award the prize in a given competition.

All peer assessment committee recommendations are final.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on the quality of the candidate’s previous work in terms of architectural design and integration of architecture’s allied arts, crafts and professions.

Required information and support material – What you need to apply

  • Description of practice (maximum 750 words)
  • Curriculum vitae or history of firm (maximum of 4 pages)
  • 20 digital images (maximum) and/or 1 video (maximum 3 minutes)

Application preparation

  • The Canada Council will make decisions about your eligibility based on the information you provide.
  • You are responsible for providing all the information and support material requested.
  • The Canada Council is not responsible for the loss or damage of material submitted.
  • Submit only the material requested. Extra material will not be shown to the peer assessment committee.
  • Carefully choose your support material as committee members have limited time in which to review each application.
  • It is important to inform the Canada Council of any changes to your contact details.If you have an account in the Canada Council’s portal, please update changes directly through your account.

Personal information

Personal information collected in this application shall be used for purposes related directly to the program, service or activity of the Canada Council.

The Canada Council may share personal information from applications and nominations for awards with officials in other arts and cultural industry funding agencies and government institutions on a confidential basis. Shared information is limited to your name, contact information, field of practice and project description, and is provided to assist with research, reporting, program planning and evaluation, to present networking or economic opportunities, or to respond to federal reviews. For more information on how your personal information is protected, see our Privacy Notice.

Prize terms and conditions

If your application is successful, the terms and conditions will be outlined in a notification letter.

Prize payment

The Canada Council will send you the prize money after it has received your acknowledgement form. Winners cannot receive the prize money until all overdue final reports for Canada Council grants and prizes have been submitted and approved.

Participation in promotional activities

The winners must agree to allow their photographs and public information to be used for promotion of the prize and in other Canada Council promotional initiatives.

Acknowledgement of Canada Council support

You must acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts in all promotional material associated with the prize. Details will be included in your notification letter.

Previous winners

Visit the Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement web page to download a list of past winners.

Instructions – How to submit an application

Send your completed application as 1 email on or before the deadline date by 11:59 pm (local time) to The total maximum file size including attachments is 25 MB. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 48 hours, please contact us.

Contact information

Sarah Brown

Program Officer, Prizes

1-800-263-5588 (toll-free) or 613-566-4414, ext. 6004