The Statistical Society of Canada

Founded in 1972

The Statistical Society of Canada was founded in 1972. Before that Canada had been served by Chapters of the American Statistical Association which opened its first Canadian Chapter in Montreal in 1955 followed by Chapters in Toronto and Ottawa in 1968.

The Canadian Mathematical Congress (now the Canadian Mathematical Society) held a meeting in Vancouver in the summer of 1968. A committee was formed to consider problems facing the Canadian statistical community [1]:-
The Committee went on to propose three venues to explore: a survey of needs and resources in statistics, a national meeting of statisticians and the formation of an organization. Over the next three years, each of these options would be investigated, but by different groups. As a preliminary step, the Committee itself decided to publish a statement in the Notes of the Canadian Mathematical Congress in October 1969 and distributed reprints as widely as it could among the statistical community, to probe its interest.
However, when Roger Fischler (University of Toronto) wrote a final report as secretary of the Committee, dated 29 March 1971, he suggested that:-
... most statisticians in Canada don't care or are not interested enough to make any further efforts by the Committee worthwhile.
A number of people were keen to push ahead and organised a statistics conference in Montreal from 31 May to 2 June 1971. Plans for a Canadian Society were, however, opposed by some who were involved in the annual meeting of the American Statistical Association which was planned for Montreal in 1972. Despite the fact that Canadian statisticians were splitting into two different groups, Arak M Mathai of McGill University and [1]:-
... three of his statistical associates decided to take a bold and decisive step. On their own initiative and without any further consultation from the community, they applied for incorporation of a statistical society without shared capital and asked the federal government of Canada to issue Letters Patent to the "Statistical Science Association of Canada/Association Canadienne de Science Statistique".
The aims were:
  1. to promote and coordinate research and allied activities in statistical sciences across Canada by conducting symposia and conferences on specified topics in statistical sciences;
  2. to publish a scientific journal of high academic quality for distribution to the members of the corporation; and
  3. to promote the interests of research workers and others in the different branches of statistical sciences.
The scientific journal referred to in (2) was to be called The Canadian Journal of Statistics.

The Society was set up and held its first Annual Meeting on 16 September 1972. However members of the three Canadian American Statistical Association Chapters were opposed to the new Society, primarily because it was seen as too academic but also because the officers of the Society were not directly elected by its members. Disagreements followed and eventually a rival Canadian Statistical Society was set up on 1 February 1974. Meanwhile the Statistical Science Association of Canada had held its annual meeting in Kingston, Ontario on 4 June 1973 and the publication of The Canadian Journal of Statistics intended for July 1973, finally happened in February 1974.

Despite there now being two rival organisations, the Statistical Science Association of Canada went ahead with its next annual conference held in Toronto, Ontario from 30 May to 1 June 1974. The rival Canadian Statistical Society held its first annual meeting in Edmonton, Alberta on 13 August 1974. There followed further moves by the American Statistical Association which hoped to create a new Canadian Statistical Society affiliated to the American Statistical Association with the two existing organisations disbanding in favour of the new Society. However the two rival Canadian Statistical Societies merged in 1977 to form the Statistical Society of Canada.

We refer the reader to the interesting article [1] which gives full details of the two rival Societies and the political moves which eventually led to their coming together in 1977.

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. D R Bellhouse and C Genest, A history of the Statistical Society of Canada : the formative years, Statist. Sci. 14 (1) (1999), 80-125.

Last Updated August 2004