Canada and Wide Field Astronomy

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While the term “wide-field telescope” might sound like an oxymoron, a strong argument can be made that wide-field instruments lie behind much of the success of Canadian astronomy. Furthermore, despite the large size of the optical-IR community in Canada, this success has been made possible by considering multiple wavelength windows, from gamma to radio, and access to a suite of facilities. Over the past two decades, through a pair of 10-year Long Range Plans, Canadian astronomy has carefully structured its facility access, to ensure, as best as can be reasonably hoped, that the community maintains access to world-leading facilities. I’ll summarize the progression of the community vision on wide-field astronomy, highlighting successes and some missteps. As we head towards the creation of the 3rd Canadian Long Range Plan for astronomy, I’ll also present some personal views on what scientific leadership means and the challenges that it presents for a smaller country (at least in the G7 sense!) like Canada.