60 years of meetings: From 1932 to 1992

HISTORICAL OUTLINE OF THE CONJOINT – CHRISTMAS LABORATORY MEETING

In The Beginning: The First Five Years 1932 -1936

In the summer of 1932, a small group of Canadian microbiologists planned the first of a series of meetings that eventually evolved to become the Conjoint Meeting on Infectious Diseases. Before that year, no Canadian meetings devoted exclusively to microbiology had been held. National bacteriology societies did not exist. Although no meetings had been solely devoted to laboratory matters relating to infectious diseases, the subject at that time was alive and well. The main forum in Canada for the exchange of views and presentation of original worlc was the Laboratory Section of the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA). Sessions of the Laboratory Section were held at each annual meeting of the CPHA. As the volume of material increased, more than one session of the Section was needed at the CPHA annual meetings. In fact, at the 21st CPHA annual meeting in May, 1932, three sessions of the Laboratory Section were required to allow presentation of all the proffered papers, two chaired by GB Reed, Professor of Bacteriology at Queen’s University, and one by EGD Murray, Professor of Bacteriology at McGill University. No other section of the CPHA held more than one session at that meeting, which was held at the Royal Yorlc Hotel in Toronto (1)

J. Michael Dixon, Edmonton,
CAMM President 1971-72
CACMID President 1989-90

The Laboratory Section had become so active and vigorous that thought was given during the May meeting to the possibility of holding an additional annual meeting of the Section. This might conveniently be held during the Christmas break in the university year. The outcome was that the Section Chairman (GB Reed) and Secretary (AL McNabb of the Ontario Department of Health), in consultation with such senior contemporary figures as JG Fitzgerald, RD Defries and Donald Fraser (of Connaught Laboratories and the Department of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine of the University of Toronto), and EGD Murray (of McGill University) decided to hold a trial meeting. This group of six may therefore justifiably be regarded as the ‘fathers’ of the Conjoint Meeting. The ‘birth announcement’ was drawn up by McNabb: in the November 1932 issue of the Canadian Journal of Public Health (CJPH) there was published (2) a small display advertisement in which: “all members of the Association interested in Public Health Bacteriology, Chemistry and Pathology are invited to attend a meeting of the Laboratory Section in the Royal York Hotel, Toronto” on Wednesday, December 28, 1932. “For information, write to the secretary of the Section, Dr. ALMcNabb, Department of Health, Ontario, Parliament Buildings, Toronto”.

Thus the first separate meeting of the Laboratory Section of the CPHA, the inaugural meeting of what we now know as the Conjoint Meeting, was convened at 0930 h in Private Dining Room No 10 of the Royal Yorlc Hotel. The program was organized by both the retiring chainnan and secretary (Reed and McNabb) and the incoming officers, N MacL Harris of the Laboratory of Hygiene, Ottawa, and MH. Brown of Connaught Laboratories and the University of Toronto. The first paper, entitled “Bacteriophage in Acute Intestinal Infection” , was given by Marion M. Johnston of the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.

The meeting program had been published in the December 1932 issue of the Journal (3) and, in the same issue, a congratulatory editorial was published (4). As comments were made on the ‘thoughts’ of the Section officers, on the veracity of which one can only speculate, I reproduce some of the editorial here:

“The holding of a meeting of the Laboratory Section during the Christmas vacation is encouraging evidence of the growing importance of the Association. There is no thought on the part of the officers of this section that the holding of such meetings will take the place of the annual meeting. It is, rather, an expression of the interest of the members who desire that the section be of as great service as possible. The Association … congratulates the section officers on this initiative in a”anging this meeting”.

The program of the first meeting included presentations on a range of microbiological topics which touched not only on bacteriology but also on virology (skin sensitivity in immunes to the elementary bodies of vaccinia), parasitology (echinococcus infection), vaccine therapy (in rheumatoid arthritis) and immunization (diphtheria). There was also international representation, Surgeon MV Veldee of the U.S. Public Health Service, Washington. giving a paper on scarlet fever toxoid. Among other events were five demonstrations, limited to five minutes each, and a luncheon at which the CPHA President, Dr. WJ Bull, was guest speaker.

The first meeting was recorded in the Journal as being “an outstanding success” (5). More than 70 persons attended. They included bacteriologists from British Columbia. New Brunswick and Ontario, and from the latter province there were members from each university. It was decided by those attending that the Laboratory Section should meet annually on a date near Christmas.

With the exception of that of 1935, all subsequent meetings were held before rather than after Christmas. The second meeting was somewhat more ambitious than the first in that two concurrent morning sessions were held: one for those interested in medical bacteriology and immunology and the other for those worlcing in soil, water and food bacteriology. In presenting its preliminary program (6), the Section officers indicate that “this widening of the Section’s interest is evidence of the support being accorded by outstanding institutions in agricultural and veterinary science“. More than 100 registered for this meeting, at which there were 19 papers and four demonstrations. In a contribution from the United States, Surgeon JP Leake described the summer outbreak of encephalitis in St Louis, Mo.

In the third year of the meeting, further evidence was provided of the firm foundation that had been established in the previous two years. First, was the statement (7) that “with the announcement of a 3rd meeting, the Christmas session of the Laboratory Section passes from the experimental stage to assume, it is hoped, a character as permanent as that o/the Association’s annual meeting“. Second, was the result of a postal inquiry of members which elicited a wish for a two-day meeting to avoid the conflicts inherent in an arrangement with concurrent sessions. (Concurrent sessions were not held again until 1971.) So the third meeting was held on a Thursday afternoon and all day on Friday, December 20-21, 1934. Never again were the meetings of less than two days’ duration. Incidentally, 1934 was the first time the phrase ‘Christmas meeting’ is recorded, an epithet that was to last for decades. .

The meeting in 1935 was entitled the ‘Fourth Annual Christmas Meeting’ of the Laboratory Section, CPHA. This was a significant year because the Section issued a statement (8) that:

“The Section is serving as the Canadian society of bacteriologists and others who are particularly interested in public health …. making possible the presentation of valuable contributions from laboratories throughout Canada”

Members attending were from the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia. The fifth meeting, in 1936, was, as were all previous meetings, held at the Royal York Hotel, Toronto, a tradition that was not to change until 1946. An evening dinner with guest speaker was held for the first time, in addition to the luncheon. Another innovation was the charging of a registration fee to cover the expenses of the program and abstract publication: it was set at fifty cents ! Another milestone in 1936 was a decision to publish in the Canadian Journal of Public Health abstracts of all papers presented at the Christmas meetings. The abstracts of the fifth meeting were published early in 1937 (9) and covered eleven pages of the Journal. Publication of the meeting abstracts was continued in like manner until 1979. In 1936 the Section also published a Directory of laboratory personnel in Canada; it contained 225 names.

From this account of the first five years, it is apparent that during this time an organizational structure had been established by the small group of founding fathers, and the passage of time has confirmed the strength of the foundation. Twoday meetings held in December had by 1936 gained a reputation such that they could and did attract microbiologists from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast in numbers regularly exceeding one hundred. This in itself was a rematkable achievement bearing in mind the small size of the microbiological community in Canada at that time and the difficult and time-consuming journeys that many of those from outside Ontario and Quebec had to make. About thirty fifteenminute papers were being presented at each meeting, and the abstracts published in a Canadian journal. Although held under the auspices of the public health association, the scientific range of the contributions was wide and encompassed all aspects of medical bacteriology (as it was then called), and also included contributions from veterinary and agricultural microbiologists. The 1932 experiment was proved to be successful and the Laboratory Section was ready for the challenges of the future.

Economic Depression and War: 1937 -1944

CE Dolman, Vancouver,
Laboratory Section Chairman 1941

The economic difficulties of 1937-39 and the wartime conditions of 1939-45 were not conducive to expansion of organizations. The meeting did well to survive and maintain its level of attendance. No doubt much of its success in this respect was due to the efforts of its two secretaries during this period: GDW Cameron (l935~7) and Ronald Hare (1938- 44). Meetings were held annually at the Royal York Hotel, Toronto during the December 15th to 22nd time interval. Most were of two days’ duration, but in 1937 and 1938 a third day was included to allow for demonstrations at local institutions, including Connaught Laboratories, the School of Hygiene and the Ontario Department of Health laboratories.

More than a hundred registrants attended each annual meeting held during this period, and the usual number of papers presented was close to thirty, although this dropped somewhat during the last two wartime meetings. The national character of the meeting became more evident as the chairmanship moved from Ontario to Quebec (EGD Murray, 1938), Alberta (RM Shaw, 1939), New Brunswick (RAH Mackeen, 1940), British Columbia (CE Dolman, 194″1), Nova Scotia (DJ Mackenzie, 1942) and Manitoba (Ff Cadham, 1943). The registration fee was increased to one dollar in 1938, and during the seventh meeting, held that year, the fIrst evening symposium, on haemolytic streptococci, was held.

No meeting was held in 1945. The reason for this is not recorded in the CJPH, but was probably related to the return to the United Kingdom of Ronald Hare, who served as Secretary from 1938 unti11945, when he was appointed to the newly established Chair of Bacteriology at St. Thomas’s Hospital Medical School in London.

The Genesis of Microbiological Societies in Canada; 1946-1957

The next meeting, the 14th, held in December 1946 was signifIcant in that it was located in Montreal at the Windsor Hotel. All the previous meetings had been at the Royal York in Toronto. At the meeting it was decided that in alternate years the meeting should be held in cities other than Toronto within the provinces of Ontario “and Quebec. So beginning with the 14th meeting, meetings in even-numbered years were held elsewhere: the 16th in London, Ontario, the 18th in Ottawa, the 20th in Quebec City and so on, this alternation being maintained until 1975.

At the 14th meeting, the first serious discussions were held on the formation of one or more societies for Canadian microbiologists and of holding joint meetings with other scientific groups. A committee was struck to study the feasibility of the Laboratory Section forming, with other interested organizations, a ‘National Council of Microbiologists of Canada’ under which joint annual meetings might be organized (10). The proposal was “to offer other organizations facilities for joint annual meetings with the Laboratory Section. During such meetings a Council, composed of executive members of the organizations represented, would meet to consider matters of mutual interest“. An interesting foreshadowing of the ‘Conjoint Meeting’! But the attempt was abortive. No report was issued, and the committee was soon disbanded.

With the continuing growth of the meetings and the decision to hold some of them outside Toronto, an increasing burden fell on the Secretary of the Section. For the first fourteen years a total of six members had served as Secretary, the longest tenure being that of Ronald Hare, seven years. In 1947, the Section made an important appointment which provided stability to the organization for two decades – it elected” Frank Wishart of the School of Hygiene, Toronto, as its secretary. Wishart served with distinction in this position for twenty years, and many would agree that he did more to foster and strengthen the Christmas meetings than anyone else during those two decades. He also diligently published accounts of the meetings in the CJPH, thus providing a permanent record. It is noteworthy that by 1950, the Christmas meeting had a significance and reputation such that the Minister of National Health and Welfare, the Honourable Paul Martin, attended and gave a short address to the dinner held at the 18th Meeting at the Chateau Laurier, Ottawa.

During the 1946-1957 period, two-days meetings were held during the middle ten days of December. They attracted 100 to 130 registrants and 25 to 30 papers were given at each. Pethaps the most significant events of the period were the discussions on the future organization of Canadian microbiology. Those probably evolved from the abortive National Council proposal already referred to. TIle discipline was growing and expanding such that a number of specialized groups were forming, such as those interested in: virology; veterinary bacteriology; public health microbiology; and the prevention and treatment of microbial disease. The Section could obviously not undertake to represent or provide a forum for the increasingly diverse interests or the rapidly growing volume of original material that was becoming available. Discussions took place, primarily at Section meetings, and these led, at the 18th in 1950, to a proposal to form a Canadian association of bacteriologists,the founding president of which would be RGE Murray, who was the newly elected chairman of the Laboratory Section for 1951. This proposal was carried through with enthusiasm and led to the establishment of what is now the Canadian Society of Microbiologists (CSM). Between its founding and 1973 the CSM met separately from the Section, but in 1974 it became one of the affiliated societies of the Conjoint Meeting, although its major annual meeting was held at a different time.

Soon thereafter the medically qualified microbiologists who attended the Christmas Meeting, and these comprised almost all the senior medical microbiologists in the country by the 1950s, decided to found an organization that could represent their interests in dealing with institutional and governmental bodies and be linked with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. This led to the formation in 1957 of the Canadian Association of Medical Bacteriologists (changed to Microbiologists in 1968) with PH Greey as founding president and

Roger Reed of McGill as secretary. The Association (CAMM) decided to meet jointly with the Laboratory Section each December and has done so ever since, being the first and by far the most long-standing society to join with the Section in organizing what is now the Conjoint Meeting.

The 25th Meeting was held at the King Edward Hotel, Toronto, on December 9th and 10th 1957, and to celebrate the Silver Jubilee a silvery decal depicting the number “twenty-five” surrounded by a wreath was affixed to the blue paper cover of the program. The registration fee was $3.00, as was the cost of the luncheon.

On the back cover of the program booklet was reprinted the program of the first meeting of 1932. The high regard in which academic, hospital and public health microbiologists held the Christmas Meeting by 1957 is evident from the list of the officers and councillors, which includes many of the leaders in Canadian microbiology at that time. PH Greey from Toronto was Chairman, JC Wilt from Winnipeg was Vice-Chairman, FO Wishart from Toronto was Secretary. J Archambault from Montreal, ET Bynoe from Ottawa, HE Robertson from Regina, CE van Rooyen from Halifax and CE Dolman from Vancouver were the Councillors.

It was at this 25th Meeting that a significant discussion took place on the future of the meeting: the location, the timing, and the relationship to the parent CPHA. This discussion was prompted by a resolution passed at the CPHA annual meeting earlier that year which invited the Laboratory Section to meet during the Association’s annual meetings, which were usually held during the month of May, rather than separately. A discussion paper on the subject was prepared by Frank Wishart, the Secretary, and distributed to all members. The text of this 1957 document is reproduced later in this publication. As history shows, the invitation was not accepted and the Laboratory Section, and the Division it later became, met independently each November-December until it finally separated completely from the CPHA.

This defiant assertion of independence in 1957 laid the foundation for continued evolution of the Christmas meeting and led to an everincreasing feeling of distinctness from the parent Association.

Laboratory Section / CAMM Meetings: 1958-1970

From 1958 to 1970 the meeting date changed gradually from mid-December to early December and then, in 1968, the meeting was held for the first time late in November. Nevertheless, the affectionate term ‘Christmas Meeting’ continued to be used. The venues remained in the Toronto-Montreal-MontebelloOttawa area. The meetings of the newly incorporated Canadian Association of Medical Bacteriologists (CAMB; now the CAMM) were held in conjunction with the Laboratory Section and the joint nature of the meeting helped to increase the annual registration to the 140-150 range, as more hospital microbiologists attended. The meetings were of two days’ duration, and the number of papers presented was generally thirty to forty, with no subdivision into concurrent sessions.

For the greater part of this period, until 1966, Frank Wishart remained the Secretary. Roger Belcourt of Connaught Laboratories succeeded him and served until 1970, when the format of the meetings changed somewhat.

Many distinguished Canadian microbiologists were involved in the meeting during the period, either as chairman of the Laboratory Section or president or secretary of the CAMB. This assembly of senior microbiologists in the universities, hospitals and public health laboratories of Canada became a meeting which all active workers in health laboratories and departments strove to attend. Although the meetings were still primarily organized by the public health association, it is worth noting the academic strength of the Meeting during the 1958-70 period. Serving as officers of the Laboratory Section or the CAMM at one time or another during this time were the heads of departments (generally not yet known as chairmen) of microbiology in the medical faculties of the following universities: Dalhousie (van Rooyen); Laval (Gauvreau); Montreal (Sonea); McGill (Reed); Queen’s (Hinton); Toronto (Greey, and Rhodes at the School of Hygiene); Manitoba (Wilt); Saskatchewan (Dempster); and British Columbia (Dolman) – a formidable array. During a slightly later 10-year period (1964-73), directors of five of the ten provincial public health laboratories headed the Laboratory Section or CAMM: British Columbia (Bowmer); Alberta (Dixon); Saskatchewan (Robertson); Ontario (Elkerton); anclNova Scotia (van Rooyen/Rozee).

The single-session meetings were close-knit, and the size of the meetings allowed those who attended to become aware of many of the interesting developments in all the subdisciplines of the specialty in Canada, and to make many friends across the country. The ‘family’ atmosphere was a great unifying factor in a relatively small scientific discipline spread across a vast country. But, as often occurs, success led to a desire to expand further. Soon, the meetings would be enlarged to include other related societies, with the result that the two-day single-session format could no longer accommodate all the papers offered. So the 1970 meeting at the Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, was the last in that form. Thirty-mne papers were presented that year – but in future the number would exceed sixty, and some of the ‘family’ feeling of the Christmas Meeting would be lost. ET Bynoe, Ottawa, Laboratory Section Chairman 1961.

ET Bynoe, Ottawa,
Laboratory Section Chairman 1961

The Conjoint Meeting is formed: 1971-1979

The next decade saw major changes in the structure and organization of the Meeting. It began with a change in the status of the CPHA Laboratory Section in 1971 to the Laboratory Division. This change had little apparent effect on the Meeting, however, and within ten years the Division was no more.

The meetings continued to be held in Toront~Ottawa-Montreal, but were extended to three days in length beginning with the 39th in 1971. (The only previous three-day meetings were in 1937 and 1938.) This was to accommodate an affiliation with another group of health-care workers with related interests – those specializing in tropical and parasitic diseases. This relationship began when the Laboratory Division organized the Third National Meeting on Tropical and Parasitic Diseases on December 4, 1971 and including it as the third day of the 39th Meeting (l0) (The first and second of this series of meetings had been held in Toronto in November 1968 and in Ottawa in November 1970, separately from the Christmas meeting.) This enlargement of the Meeting led to an increase in the number of registrants to 282, and an increase in the number of scientific papers to 60 from the Laboratory Division and six from the tropica1/parasitic . disease group, which also held a symposium, necessitated two concurrent sessions being held. The new Meeting Secretary for the 39th was John Weber of Connaught Laboratories.

The 40th Meeting (1972) included the Fourth National Meeting on Tropical and Parasitic Diseases. The organizers of this latter group passed a motion which led to the fonnation of a new CPHA Division: the Tropical Medicine and International Health Division, of which Michael Lenczner was elected the first President, and Ernest Bowmer, Vice-President (11). Those attending the combined meeting numbered 305,. the first time more than three hundred registrants had been recorded. During the Meeting, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Louis Pasteur was celebrated. Annand Frappier spoke on ‘Louis Pasteur, The Man’ (12), and a symposium was held on December 1st sponsored jointly by the Laboratory Division, the CSM and the Societe de Microbiologie de la Province de Quebec.

The 41 st Meeting in 1973 was organized by the Laboratory Division and now, for the first time, a list of associated organizations was given. In addition to the CAMM which had been affiliated since 1957, the newly established CPHA Division of Tropical Medicine and International Health (TMlH) and the CPHA Division of Epidemiology were listed. The association with the Epidemiology Division was brief, however, lasting only from 1973 to 1977.

V Pavilanis, Montreal,
Laboratory Section Chainnan 1970

The Meeting was enlarging rapidly. In 1974, a major change occurred when the Canadian Society of Microbiologists participated for the first time. The Meeting, the 42nd, was announced as the First joint Meeting on Infectious Diseases. It was sponsored by the Laboratory and TMIH Divisions of CPHA in association with the CAMM, CSM and Epidemiology Division of CPHA.

A further change in nomenclature is seen in the program of the 45th Meeting. With the same sponsorship as in 1974, the name is now “A Conjoint Meeting on Infectious Diseases“. The registration fee was $30 (students/residents $10), a new Secretary, Adolf von Seefried, was in office, and 81 papers were presented, either in a plenary session (on day 2) or in two concurrent sessions (days 1 and 3). There was a guest lecturer, Dr. DA Henderson of Johns Hopkins University, who spoke on the eradication of smallpox, a World Health Organization initiative which he had led.

Another addition to the list of affiliated societies was made in 1978 when the PanAmerican Group on Rapid Virus Diagnosis first participated. The changes seen in the 1970s, however, were not only concerned with growth and the involvement of new organizations; there was an underlying discontent within the organizing group, the CPHA Laboratory Division. It concerned the relationship with the parent Association.

The Division officers attempted to renegotiate the arrangement that existed, and in particular were concerned with the requirement to pay a substantial annual membership fee to CPHA, much of which went towards support for the Journal in which, by now, very little of interest to laboratory workers appeared except for the Meeting abstracts. This discontent is referred to in accompanying papers by Leslie Spence and Ian Duncan, and will not be dwelt upon here. The “relationship of Laboratory Division with Canadian Public Health Association” was the first order of business at the annual general meeting of the Division on December 1st, 1976. The discussions and negotiations continued for the next three years until a new organization, the Canadian Association for Oinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (CACMID) was incorporated in January 1980. The Division chairman during this period, Margaret Finlayson, was involved in innumerable meetings with CPHA. Great credit must go to her, and to Leslie Spence, the first Chairman (now called President) of CACMID, for the enormous amount of patient work they undertook at that time. They accomplished the birth of the new association relatively painlessly – a difficult task. For details of the establishment of CACMID, the reader is referred to the account by Leslie Spence.

The CACMID Conjoint Meetings: 1980-1992

The Meetings of the 1980s began in a new venue and with a new organizational structure. The 48th (1980) Conjoint Meeting was held in Hamilton at the Royal Connaught Hotel from November 26th to 28th. On the title page of the program, the CPHA is still given a prominent place, but the Laboratory Division no longer existed. The program indicated that the Canadian Association for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (CACMID) “welcomes you to the Conjoint Meeting on Infectious Diseases”, in association with the Canadian Society for Tropical Medicine and International Health, CAMM, CSM, Pan-American Group for Rapid Virus Diagnosis (pAGRVD), and the Canadian Infectious Diseases Society. From this list, it can be noted that the Canadian Infectious Diseases Society (CIDS), participated for the first time in 1980, and that the CPHA-TMIH Division had now become an independent society (CSTMIH) although still affiliated with CPHA. To accommodate all the scientific papers, three concurrent sessions were now required on two of the meeting days, with a plenary session on the other day. An evening symposium on computers was also arranged. The program booklet was 135 pages in length.

The format and associated societies were to remain a1most unchanged for the whole decade. At the 50th Meeting (1982), Oaude Dolman of Vancouver (the 1941 Laboratory Section chairman) spoke on “50th Anniversary – Reminiscences of the Earlier Meetings” (13).

Following the success of the meeting in Hamilton, it was decided to make a trial of holding meeting outside the Toronto-MontrealOttawa triangle, and the 52nd (1984) was held in Vancouver, the 54th (1986) in Quebec City, the 56th (1988) in Calgary, and the 58th (1990) in Halifax. While attendance was, expectedly, somewhat lower in the less central locations, the experiment was regarded as a success, and the policy to diversify the venues has been adopted.

Another matter of some discussion was the timing of the Meeting. Since moving to November from December, there had been some difficulty because of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Some invitations to U.S. speakers had been declined because of the conflict of dates. Others wished to change the dates of the meetings entirely and meet together with other organizations, such as the Royal College. The disruption of an occasional meeting by a winter storm caused others to question the NovemberDecember period. To meet some of these concerns, it was decided to move tbe meeting to the end of October for a trial period, starting with the 1993 Meeting in Vancouver. Thus, after a slow and gradual change from the Christmas period to late November, during which the Christmas Meeting appellation survived although to a rapidly declining level in the 1970s, a major alteration in the dates of the Conjoint Meeting has now been implemented and the connection with the holiday season has become a matter of history.

During the 1980s, as CACMID increasingly undertook activities distinct from the organization of the Meeting, it became appropriate to divide the workload of the secretariat by separating matters concerning the Conjoint Meeting from the other duties of the CACMID Secretary!freasurer. Since 1977, Adolf von Seefried, had been responsible for both CACMID and the Conjoint Meeting, but in 1985, Pierre Payment of Institut Armand- Frappier was appointed Meeting Secretary (a position he still holds), while von Seefried remained CACMID Secretary until his elected term ended in 1988. It is of interest that, apart from four individuals who served for a single one-year term, there have been only seven organizing Secretaries during the 60–year life of the Conjoint Meeting (years served in parentheses): Cameron (3), Hare (7), Wishart (20), Belcourt (4), Weber (6), von Seefried (8), and Payment (8). The contributions of these seven cannot be overestimated.

A few changes were made to the structure of the Conjoint Meeting in the second half of the decade. In 1987, the small Biological Implications of Pathogenicity Group led by M. Goldner of Toronto asked to be included, but their participation was short-lived and ended in 1990; and L’Association des Microbiologistes du Quebec began their participation; In 1989, the CSTMIH adopted a shorter name and continued their participation as the Canadian Society for International Health. In 1990, the Canadian College of Microbiologists, which had for some years co-sponsored with CACMID a workshop immediately prior to the Conjoint Meeting. became a participating member. One further, but significant change, was thai the affiliation of CACMID to CPHA ended during the decade. CACMID voted in 1985 to separate completely from CPHA, and mention of the affiliation last appeared in a Conjoint Meeting program in 1986. In 1987 and thereafter, the CPHA was not represented in the list of participating or associated societies, thus ending a relationship that had lasted 55 years.

Social Activities

One of the most important aspects of meetings such as ours is that they provide an opportunity to meet colleagues from across the nation and from across the borders that tend to be built between sub-disciplines. Social activities not only are pleasant occasions but also often facilitate the making of new contacts and friendships and the renewing of others. During the last sixty years a variety of events has been held, from a simple cocktail hour to a fascinating tour of a museum with a string quartet gently playing in the background.

The first recorded social event was a luncheon with an invited speaker at the first meeting in 1932. In 1936, the first evening dinner was held. A luncheon or dinner, or both, were held throughout the first forty or so meetings. The speakers were usually scientists, but occasionally were political- such as the Minister of National Health and Welfare in 1950.

During the 1970s, as the number of registrants grew and commercial exhibits became a feature of the meetings, a cocktail hour, wholly or partially supported by exhibitors, was held, usually on the evening of the first day of scientific presentations. This tradition has continued.

In the early 1980s, the concept of a formal dinner came under some criticism. The size of the meetings had made the event somewhat impersonal, and a dinner gave little opportunity to mingle and move around. The initial response to this feeling, which was reflected in dwindling attendance, was to provide entertainment after dinner. Assistance from commercial firms was sought and receiVed, and in 1981 the 80-strong choral group “Les Chansonniers” performed at the banquet held in the Chateau Laurier. In 1982, comedian Dave Broadfoot entertained the 50th Anniversary banquet at the Prince Hotel, Toronto.

A popular alternative to the banquet was introduced in 1984, when an evening visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery, arranged and fmanced by Nordic Laboratories, was highly successful. The following year, in 1985, an “Evening with Nordic” took place at the Royal Ontario Museum, the museum being opened specially for this function after normal closing hours. The tradition continued with a visit to the Musee du Seminaire du Quebec (1986), to the National Arts Center in Ottawa for a performance by the Vienna Choirboys and to the top of the Husky Tower in Calgary (1988). Nordic Laboratories did not pursue this activity in the following years and the Program Committee sought other alternatives. Festival dinners with entertainment in historic sites were organized: the Festin du Gouverneur in Montreal (1989) and the Historic Feast in Halifax (1990). A cocktail and visit to the newly renovated “Musee du Quebec” was arranged in 1991.

One further social event has been held on the eve of the Meeting since early in the 1980s – the “Meet and Greet” social cocktail hour, where newly arrived attendees meet their colleagues in a pleasant informal atmosphere.

Planning the Meetings

As would be expected, the complexity of planning the programs of the Meetings grew as they increased in size. Two distinct periods can be distinguished: the first forty or so Meetings which were the product of the CPHA Laboratory Section; and the next twenty Meetings, when other societies joined, under the general organization of the CPHA Laboratory Division or its successor, CACMID.

From 1932 until about the time of the first Joint Meeting in 1974, the program was assembled in a simple manner. The Secretary of the Laboratory Section served as the program committee secretary. The committee usually consisted of the Chairman and Secretary of the Laboratory Section sitting with seven or eight microbiologists (including after 1957 CAMM members) living in or near the city in which the Secretary was situated, namely Toronto. Only the Laboratory Section chainnan was likely to be from outside southwest Ontario. Thus a glance at the program of the 25th Meeting (1957) shows the program committee to consist of seven Toronto members and one from London, Ontario; and on this occasion the Section Chainnan was also from Toronto. Nine years later, the committee for the 34th Meeting (1966) consisted of seven Torontonians and a Chainnan from Regina. In those days there were no commercial exhibits, the social events were confined to a luncheon and perhaps a dinner, and the number of papers offered, which rarely if ever exceeded forty, probably was never greater than the number of time slots available. So deciding upon the program was relatively straightforward, and apparently those attending were content with the system.

Everything changed early in the 1970s, however, as other associations joined the Laboratory Division (as it had become) and the CAMM. The new participants, such as CSM, the Tropical Medicine and International Health Division and others, needed and were granted representation on the program planning group. By the 44th Joint Meeting (1976) a joint program committee included not only 6 CPHA Laboratory Division members and one CAMM member, but also three TMIH Division representatives. Program planning was now more complicated, for not only had the number of papers grown to 81, an increase that necessitated a subdivision into two concurrent sessions, but also arrangements had to be made for and negotiations undertaken with eleven commercial exhibitors. The committee was now a much more active body and convened during the middle of the year to advise and direct the meeting secretary, who was still the Laboratory Division Secretary.

By the 50th Meeting (1982), CACMID was the organizing society and the program committee consisted. of five CACMID representatives and one each from the other five participating associations. These ten members were responsible for: the allocation of 107 papers into three concurrent sessions; the organization of space for 27 commercial exhibitors; social arrangements, including professional entertainment; choosing and inviting distinguished guest speakers; and many other associated tasks. Since CACMID was the organizing association and handled all the financial transactions, it was appropriate that it was well represented on the program committee. The planning procedures, however, were very infonnal, having evolved as the Meeting grew. It soon became apparent that some more substantive arrangement should be put in place, since the annual budget was now some tens of thousands of dollars. Accordingly CACMID, in consultation with the other participating associations, enacted a by-law in 1989 whereby it was empowered to organize and be financially responsible for joint meetings with other scientific societies. The composition of the program committee for such meetings was specified: under the chainnanship of a CACMID officer or councilor, there shall be the CACMID President and Past-President, a Meeting Secretary who shall be a CACMID councilor, and one representative nominated by each other participating society.

Although there is no such requirement, the chainnan of the committee has generally been the Vice-President of CACMID. Such a committee now meets in January of each year, often preceded by an early planning session during the previous Conjoint Meeting, and the CACMID Executive detennines the final program during the summer months before a Meeting. This arrangement continues to date. Although the meetings are the responsibility of CACMID, they are still known as ‘Conjoint’, even though most participants refers to this meeting as the “CACMID Meeting”. This nomenclature must be welcomed by some of the long-standing members such as Claude Dolman, who finds the acronym ‘CACMID’ displeasing. In a footnote to his published address to the 50th Meeting (12), he points out that it is not only cacophonous, but the prefix ‘cac’, derived from the Greek kakos (bad, evil, foul), has unpleasant associations. Despite the lack of euphony and its etymological connotations, however, the acronym ‘CACMID’ is now in common use.

References

  1. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1932) 23: 187
  2. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1932) 23: 549
  3. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1932) 23: 571
  4. Can J. Publ. Hlth.. (1932) 23: 573
  5. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1933) 24: 47
  6. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1933) 24: 464
  7. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1934) 25: 499
  8. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1935) 26: 613
  9. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1937) 28: 32-44
  10. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1972) 63: 93
  11. Can J. Publ. Hlth. (1973) 64: 63
  12. Can J. Publ. Hlth.(1973) 64: 64-66