The origin of what is now called the Canadian Forest Genetics Association goes back to December 22, 1937 when the First Conference on Forest Tree Breeding and Propagation was held at the National Research Laboratories of the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa. Five people attended. Four more meetings were held in 1938 and one in 1939. The first meeting of the Subcommittee on Forest Tree Breeding, Associate Committee on Forestry, under the National Research Council of Canada was held in June 1939. This group met annually or biannually for 14 years. Drs. Carl Heimberger and John Farrar were active attendees at most meetings. Mark Holst made his first appearance in 1951. During this 14-year period 24 meetings were held.
In 1953 the inaugural meeting of the Committee on Forest Tree Breeding was held in Ottawa. The Committee was sponsored by the Forestry Branch, Department of Resources and Development and 12 attended. The Committee met annually until 1958 after which meetings were held biennially due to “meetings entailed a lot of work and that a fresher outlook can be presented in the longer time interval.” The fifth meeting, held at the Petawawa Forest Experiment Station, was the start of the Proceedings being published as Parts 1 and 2. Part 1 was meeting minutes and discussion and Part 2 consisted of members’ reports and papers. By now, over 20 people were attending. The format of the Proceedings of the 13th meeting changed to what it currently is; Part 1 consisting of business meeting minutes and members’ reports and Part 2 containing the symposium papers.
At the 14th meeting, in 1973, the name was changed to the Canadian Tree Improvement Association and a draft constitution and bylaws was accepted. There were now 54 Active members and 57 “breeders” attended this meeting. The Association has continued to meet biennially throughout Canada, except for the 27th meeting, which took place three years after the previous one.
In 2008, at the 31st meeting, the name was changed to the Canadian Forest Genetics Association. One principal reason for changing the name was because the term “tree improvement”, as it is understood by the broader scientific community and the public, does not fully represent the range of presentations at the conference, nor of the interests of delegates. “Forest genetics” is more inclusive and more accurately reflects the range and diversity of interests and activities. The decision was also made to create a web site and to publish the Proceedings electronically.
Active membership stands at 90 and Honourary membership is comprised of 30 individuals who had long, distinguished careers in tree breeding, forest genetics, tree improvement or tree seed.