CAA Objectives and History
The CAA was founded to promote recognition of Canadian writers and their works, and to foster and develop a climate favourable to the creative arts. Its objectives:
- To work for the encouragement and protection of writers.
- To speak for writers before government and other inquiries.
- To sponsor awards and otherwise encourage work of literary and artistic merit.
- To publish National Newsline, The Canadian Writer's Guide and other publications designed to improve the professionalism of Canadian writers.
The Canadian Authors Association is this country's national association for writers of every kind, for those actively seeking to become writers and for those who want to support writers. Founded in Montreal in 1921 the Association is incorporated under federal charter.
The CAA was incorporated without share capital in 1947 and received tax exempt status as a registered national arts service organization (NASO) in August 1997.
Some 25,000 writers have been members including, in the early days, Stephen Leacock, Bliss Carman, Robert W. Service, Ralph Connor, E.J. Pratt, Mazo de la Roche and Sir Charles G. D. Roberts.
The Canadian Authors Association has fought since 1921 to improve copyright protection for Canadian writers. It was instrumental in 1924 legislation. It began pressing for a new Copyright Act in the 1980s, and is a charter member of the Canadian Copyright Institute (now Access Copyright).
The Canadian Authors Association is affiliated with La Société des écrivains canadiens.
- 1921 Founded in Montreal to lobby for the protection of authors' rights.
- This consistent objective survives to this day. We continue to participate in the national organizations CAA helped to create to ensure that Canadian writers retain rights to their intellectual property and are paid for it.
- Over the years, CAA has expanded from a group of published authors concerned with protection of their own property to one that now includes those not yet published who want protection of what they might eventually produce and who need help producing it.
- 1932 Helped create The Canadian Writers' Foundation to provide financial assistance to indigent authors and their families. This charitable foundation continues to help eminent Canadian writers who have fallen on hard times.
- 1936 Founded the Governor General's Literary Awards. In 1959 the Awards were turned over to Canada Council, and still provide valuable assistance to outstanding Canadian authors.
- 1940 Founded in 1919 as The Canadian Bookman, the first issue of Canadian Author & Bookman was published in April 1940. Canadian Poetry was incorporated in 1968 and the publication became simply, Canadian Author with the Fall 1992 issue. Publication was suspended in 1998.
- 1946 Originated the first standard book contract to protect authors' rights in negotiations with publishers
- In 1946, the Canadian Authors Association began a campaign to bring a Public Lending Right program to Canadian authors.
- Other Canadian writing groups joined the campaign, and the PLR program was finally created in 1986. Payments to authors began in 1987. The Canadian Authors Association is represented on the Executive Committee of the PLR.
- PLR still serves to collect payments to Canadian authors whose books are read and borrowed in Canadian libraries.
- 1957 Successfully lobbied to have Canada join the Universal Copyright Convention. This convention continues to protect Canadian writers.
- 1962 Published the first edition of The Canadian Writer's Guide (13th edition in 2002).
- The CAA's handbook is the best reference guide for Canadian writers. It is available at a discount to members. Thousands of copies of each edition are bought by other writers.
- 1964 Reaffirmed the CAA's policy of welcoming non-published writers as members in keeping with the motto: Writers Helping Writers.
- Aspiring writers would continue to benefit from association with successful ones.
- (Professional writers unhappy with this policy formed The Writers' Union of Canada in 1972.)
- Adherence to this principle has made the CAA ineligible for government funding on the grounds that it is not sufficiently "professional."
- 1963 Vicky Metcalf Awards for children's literature established (suspended 2002).
- 1968 Established the Allan Sangster Award for meritorious service to the CAA by one of its members.
- 1975 CAA Literary Awards for Fiction, non-Fiction, Poetry and Drama established.
- 1981 Celebrated 60th anniversary with Syllables of Recorded Time (The Story of the Canadian Authors Association 1921–1981) by Lyn Harrington, 1981. ISBN 0-88924-112-0.
- 1997 Established Lela Common Award for Canadian History and the Jubilee Award for Short Stories (currently seeking funding).
- 1998 Established Birks Family Foundation Award for Canadian Biography (withdrawn 2004).
- All of the CAA awards are judged anonymously by qualified Canadian authors, without executive review of the decisions. Political influence of any kind is avoided. The Canadian Authors Association Awards are given by writers to writers to honour excellence in writing that does not sacrifice popular appeal.
- 1999 Established public message service on the CAA website (discontinued in 2006). Instituted a messaging service restricted to use by CAA members for writing and publishing related inquiries.
- 2000 Established MOSAID Technologies Inc. Award for Fiction (now the CAA Fiction Award).
- 2001 Established Carol Bolt Award for Drama (withdrawn 2010) and the Children's Short Story Award (withdrawn 2003).
- 2002 Established the Jack Chalmers Award for Poetry (now the CAA Poetry Award).
- 2009 Established CAA Awards Shortlists.
- 2011 90th Annual National Conference (now CanWrite! Conference).
Other CAA Achievements
- The Association has presented briefs to Royal Commissions and other parliamentary bodies on behalf of Canadian Writers.
- In 1995, the Canadian Authors Association transferred to Simon Fraser University the Association's archival collection of books, which had been maintained since 1986 as the Lionel M. Gelber Canadian Research Library.
Other History Resources
Goodbye to Dr. Donald W. Thomson & Fred Kerner
Goodbye to Dr. Donald W. Thomson is an obituary for this long-time member that passed away on January 9, 2001. The contributions made to Canadian writing and to the CAA by Dr. Thompson speak loudly to the contributions that individuals have made to the CAA in its long history.
Goodbye to Fred Kerner is the CAA obituary for this long-time member that passed away on December 24, 2011. "A very sad loss…for everyone in the writing and publishing community," said Matthew Bin, National President. "He contributed so much to help shape Canada's current writing and publishing landscape."
Updated February 18, 2013