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Our history

Black and white image of a boy holding bunches of daffodils

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 retaining their own identities and purposes.

Over the past three-quarters of a century, we’ve made incredible progress in the fight for life. To learn more about our accomplishments and history, visit our 75 greatest impact moments.

  • Beginnings of the Society in Quebec

    1938

    Creation of the "Canadian Society for the Control of Cancer" which would become, a few years later, the Canadian Cancer Society.

    1947

    The National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) becomes the Canadian Cancer Society’s scientific partner.

    Opening of the Canadian Cancer Society’s first office in Quebec, in Montreal.

    1951

    Official opening of the Society’s Quebec City office under the name "À la porte rouge" (The Red Door).

    1961

    First Daffodil Day held in Quebec. The campaign raises $9,000.

    1966

    Robert Bourassa, then a young member of the National Assembly, becomes the first president of the Canadian Cancer Society’s fundraising campaign in Montreal.

    1970-90

    Expansion of patient services. The Society ensures that services not covered by Quebec Medicare are available to people living with cancer.

    The Society sets up offices in several regions of Quebec.

    1988

    The Canadian Cancer Society celebrates its 50th anniversary.

    1990

    Inauguration of the Society’s Lodge, in Montreal.

    1994

    First Daffodil Ball is held at the Chalet atop Mount Royal.

    1996

    Inauguration of the Cancer Information Service, a toll-free telephone service (1 888 939-3333), accessible across Canada in English and French.

    2000

    The Canadian Cancer Society adopts a new image of hope and strength: the daffodil.

    2002

    Inauguration of the J’ARRÊTE! Smokers’ Helpline (1 888 853-6666). The information and support helpline for smokers who want to quit. This service is jointly coordinated by the Quebec Council on Tobacco & Health and the Canadian Cancer Society.

    Expansion project for the Society Lodge.

    Integration of all Society Divisions’ websites and launch of a new integrated website, www.cancer.ca.

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Stories

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Access to services in your community

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The Canadian Cancer Society’s Community Services Locator helps cancer patients and their families find the services and programs they need in their community.

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