History of the CSEM

David A. Hanley, MD, FRCPC — 2007 update

The Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism (CSEM) came into being as a result of the efforts of a number of prominent members of the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation (CSCI). Endocrinologists had always played a very important role in that society and it was from the CSCI that the CSEM drew its membership initially.

The society executive was formed a year earlier at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in Washington, D.C., in June of 1972. The executive referred to itself as the Ad Hoc Council of the CSEM. At that meeting plans to bring the Society into existence were laid and the following key steps were taken:

  1. Membership was recruited, largely from the CSCI, and by the time the society had its first official meeting in Edmonton, 24 January 1973 — there were 238 paid-up members.
  2. A constitution and application for incorporation under the Canada Corporations Act had been generated through a directors’ meeting of the CSEM on 18 January 1973. This meeting was held at the office of Ogilvy, Cope, Porteous, Hansard, Marler, Montgomery, and Renault, in Montreal. The society was officially recognized as a corporation on 19 February 1973.
  3. The leadership of the new society was proposed as follows:
    • President: Robert Volpé, University of Toronto
    • President-Elect: Henry Friesen, McGill University
    • Secretary-Treasurer: Keith Dawson, McGill University
    • Honorary President: J.S.L. Browne
  4. The first official general meeting of the CSEM occurred during the Annual Meeting of the CSCI and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada at the Hotel MacDonald, Edmonton, Alberta, Wednesday 24 January 1973 at 5:15 p.m. At this meeting the constitution was ratified with some minor changes and the society began its existence with a reasonable bank account of $3,884.58. Annual dues were set at $10.00 for renewal and $15.00 for new memberships.
  5. The first Council Meeting of the CSEM was held the following day on 25 January 1973 at the Edmonton Club. The term of office was established for the various offices of the council. A special meeting of the general membership of the CSEM was held at the same time to ratify these decisions and compose the membership of the various committees. The following executive committees were established:
    • Drs. Mo Watanabe and Aubie Angel chaired a committee on the Society's constitution
    • Dr. Carl Abbott chaired a nominating committee
    • Dr. Henry Friesen chaired a liaison committee for interactions with other societies (Endocrine Society, International Society of Endocrinology, etc.)
    • Dr. John Moorhouse chaired an education committee.

Although the brief history as outlined above relates the formal establishment of the CSEM, earlier informal meetings of the membership had occurred. Several members have pointed out the key roles played by early council members such as Aubie Angel, Mo Watanabe, and Robert Volpé in the initial establishment of the society. Our first Secretary-Treasurer, Keith Dawson, states that "Bob Volpé and Aubie Angel...were the real ‘'ring-leaders'’ in its organization...and even from the beginning, it was a success". Dr. Volpé remembers a particular day in 1971 when "...Dr. Angel met me on the street (in Toronto ), and in discussing random matters of the day he proposed that we start a CSEM and that I should take the initiative. With his urging we did plan to organize... and had the (first) informal meeting in June 1972 (in Washington )". He says, "Had it not been for the constant harassment by Dr. Angel, l doubt that I would have pushed myself to get this early meeting organized."

It should also be noted that the creation of a Canadian society of endocrinologists was not uniformly endorsed or encouraged. Dr. Charles Hollenberg (who was at McGill at the time) recalls that "...the majority of McGill endocrinologists, many of whom were international leaders, were opposed to the formation of a Canadian society since they felt that Canadian needs were adequately met through the American Endocrine Society. However, when it became clear that representation of Canada in international meetings and congresses was going to be dependent upon the development of a Canadian endocrine society, and when endocrinologists in other parts of Canada demonstrated a significant interest in forming a Canadian organization, a number of us changed our minds and worked actively towards the establishment of the Society."

The rapid establishment of the CSEM as a prominent force representing the discipline of Endocrinology and Metabolism in working with government, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the CSCI, and international endocrine groups, soon convinced Canadian endocrinologists that the CSEM had a significant role to play. During the first decade of its existence the society rapidly developed into its present form, with council members representing the regions of the country elected for three year terms.