Our history

Black and white image of a boy holding bunches of daffodils

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Canadian Cancer Society. It is an occasion to look back on the Society’s successes over 75 years. We have so much to be proud of but there is much more to be done. To find out more about our accomplishments and our history, visit 75th Anniversary Impact moments.


How the Society began

The Canadian Cancer Society was officially formed in 1938, but the seeds for the Society were planted back in 1929 when the Saskatchewan Medical Association formed the country’s first cancer committee.


This committee responded to growing concern by doctors that people were not aware of the signs of cancer. By the time people consulted a doctor, their cancer was advanced and their chances for survival were decreased. Cancer committees in other provincial medical associations followed, and in 1931 the Canadian Medical Association’s National Study Committee on Cancer was formed.


In 1935, the Governor General of Canada invited Canadians to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the coronation of George V by donating to the King George V Silver Jubilee Cancer Fund. The campaign successfully raised almost $500,000 by the end of the year.


In 1937, the National Study Committee recommended the formation of the Canadian Society for the Control of Cancer, and this new organization was officially launched the following year. We changed our name to the Canadian Cancer Society a few years later.


During our early years, we received most of our income from an annual grant from the Canadian Medical Association based on the interest of the King George V Silver Jubilee Fund.


In 1947, the National Cancer Institute of Canada now the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute was formed through an agreement between the Canadian Cancer Society and the Department of National Health and Welfare. Since then, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute have worked towards a common goal while, at the same time, retaining their own identities and purposes.


Beginnings of the Society in BC and the Yukon


The Canadian Cancer Society in British Columbia was also established in 1938.


Throughout the 1950s the Society grew and expanded its programs. In 1959 the BC Division amalgamated with the Yukon Division.


A pilot summer camp program, Camp Goodtimes was launched in 1985 led by an energetic volunteer committee. In 2004, on its 20th anniversary, Camp Goodtimes moved from the Sunshine Coast to a new location at the scenic Loon Lake in Maple Ridge.


Following the establishment of lodges in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna, a fourth lodge was opened in Prince George in March 2013.


The Society was successful in securing funding for the creation of a Chair in Cancer Primary Prevention at UBC in 2007. Dr Carolyn Gotay assumed the position of Chair in 2008. In 2010 an innovative Cancer Prevention Centre was established in partnership with UBC.