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A home for paediatricians. A voice for children and youth.

History of the Canadian Paediatric Society

The Canadian Society for the Study of Diseases of Children was formed in 1922 when 15 paediatricians from Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton met at The Hospital for Sick Children. Among the goals of the organization were:  

  • To promote the advancement of knowledge of physiology, pathology, psychology and therapeutics of infancy and childhood, and
  • To facilitate for its members the means of acquiring fuller knowledge of their profession by professional meetings, and by the publication of articles and papers relating to the science, practice and teaching of the diseases of infancy and childhood.

It wasn’t long before the Society began to fulfill its professional education mandate. The first annual meeting was held in Montreal in 1923, under the leadership of then-president Dr. A.D. Blackader.

Since its inception, the CPS has done much of its work through committees focused on specific areas of child and youth health. An education committee was struck in 1931, charged with studying teaching programs for undergraduate medical students in Canada. Other committees followed over the years, including nutrition (1959), First Nations and Inuit child health (1962), and infectious diseases and immunization (1966). Today, the CPS has nearly 15 expert committees to address the health needs of children and youth.

In 1943, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada awarded the first certification in paediatrics. By 1951, the Canadian Paediatric Society had 216 members across the country.

Dr. Jessie Boyd Scriver - who was among the first group of women to graduate from McGill University’s medical school in 1922 - became the first woman to serve as president of the CPS in 1952.

In 1964, to serve its more than 450 members, the CPS established a secretariat in Sherbrooke, Que., under secretary-treasurer (and later executive vice-president) Dr. Victor Marchessault, who would lead the organization for 33 years.

Over the years, public policy advocacy became a major focus for the CPS. A concern about the prevalence of nutritional rickets led to legislation allowing a preventive dose of vitamin D to be added to milk sold in Canada. In the 1970s, the CPS injury prevention committee worked with the federal government to help develop safety standards for infant and child car seats.

By the 1980s, the CPS had more than 1,000 members. And as the organization grew, so did its infrastructure. It set up a permanent office in Ottawa in 1984 with two employees.

With the growth in programs and services in areas such as advocacy, professional education, public education and surveillance, the CPS now has more than 3,000 members and 25 staff.

Last updated: Jan 29, 2024