Founded in 1921 by Stephen Leacock, Pelham Edgar, B.K. Sandwell, John Murray Gibbon (who became its first president), and other prominent writers of the time, to lobby for the protection of authors’ rights, the Canadian Authors Association has continued to pursue this objective to this day. Instrumental in the 1924 copyright legislation, the Association began pressing for a new Copyright Act in the 1980s.
We also continue to participate in the national organizations we helped create to ensure that Canadian writers retain rights to their intellectual property and are paid for the use of their works. These organizations include Access Copyright, the Book and Periodical Council, the Canadian Copyright Institute, the International Authors Forum, and the Public Lending Right Commission.
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.
Timeline: Milestones and Achievements
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.
Founded the Governor General’s Literary Awards. (In 1959 the Awards were turned over to Canada Council and continues to provide recognition to outstanding Canadian authors.)
Published Canadian Author & Bookman, originally founded in 1919 as The Canadian Bookman (Canadian Poetry was incorporated in 1968, and the publication became simply Canadian Author with the Fall 1992 issue. Publication was suspended in 1998.)
Originated the first standard book contract to protect authors’ rights in negotiations with publishers. Also 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.
Successfully lobbied to have Canada join the Universal Copyright Convention. This convention continues to protect writers whose countries are signatories.
Published the first edition of The Canadian Writer’s Guide (13th edition published in 2002).
Established the Vicky Metcalf Awards for children’s literature (suspended in 2002; currently administered by the Writers’ Trust of Canada).
In keeping with the motto ‘Writers helping writers’, reaffirmed Canadian Authors’ policy of welcoming non-published writers as members.
Established the Allan Sangster Award for meritorious service to the Canadian Authors Association (only members are eligible).
Established the CAA Literary Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Drama (currently suspended).
Celebrated Canadian Authors Association’s 60th anniversary with Syllables of Recorded Time: The Story of the Canadian Authors Association 1921–1981) by Lyn Harrington, published 1981.
Established the Lela Common Award for Canadian History and the Jubilee Award for Short Stories (both are currently suspended). Received tax exempt status as a registered national arts service organization (NASO).