CSFA (THE CANADIAN SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION)
– In 1946 the Montreal SF Society was formed, followed by the Toronto SF Society and the Lakehead SF Society (in Hamilton) in 1947. “A steady stream of correspondence between the three clubs resulted in the formation of the Canadian Science Fiction Association in 1948.”
The purpose of the CSFA was to bring geographically isolated Canadian fans together (remember, Canada is the second largest country on Earth, only Russia is bigger) in an organization devoted to encouraging Canadian fans, by virtue of constant written communication, to form a coherant national entity capable of achieving assorted fannish goals in a unified manner. Of course it didn’t work, but hey, what a nice idea!
1948 – CSFA founded. Each participating club deemed a constituent club representing a single vote in the elections for an executive. Elections held, Hamilton club forms the executive, Paul Revey as first President of CSFA. Picton (Ontario) SF club founded, affiliates. Now four members clubs in the CSFA.
Torcon I (sixth Worldcon) held in Toronto summer of 1948. Representatives of the four member clubs attended Torcon. “These fans held the first CSFA Canada-wide meeting — the main decision at this meeting was to form correspondence clubs so as to enable individual fans in small centres to obtain a vote at CSFA elections…. Two correspondence clubs were quickly formed. These were the Northern Fantasy Fan Federation, centred on Lelslie Croutch, and the Fantastellar Association, centred on Alastair Cameron at Deep River, Ontario (now 6 member clubs in CSFA)…. Besides this, amendments were introduced to the constitution and Jack-Bowie Reed was elected to the post of National Organizer. Lloyd Eshbach was elected as Honourary President, and a number of projects were delegated to individuals & clubs.”
Note: Chester Cuthbert wrote in June 1973: “Lloyd Eshbach was elected Honourary President because he was always very friendly to Canadian fans, and as Director of Fantasy Press gave science fiction clubs like ours a discount of one-third from published price on books. Many of us wouldn’t have collections of his books if this hadn’t been his policy.” (MM) & (LP)
Late 1948 saw four new clubs form and affiliate with CSFA (bringing the number of member clubs up to 10). They were the Deseronto SF Society (in Ontario), the Halifax (Nova Scotia) SF Society, the Ottawa (Ontario) SF Society, & the Thames SF Society in London, Ontario. “Correspondence was also established with the national organizations in Australia, Great Britain, & the USA with a view towards the formation of a World Science Fiction League.”
1949 – The Windsor (Ontario) SF Society forms & affiliates with CSFA. (Member clubs now 11 in number). A newsletter is being published, & numerous projects underway. Then Paul Revey resigns as CSFA President & is replaced by Clare Richards. Several founding members of the Hamilton club move away and the club, which functions as the CSFA executive, declines in strength & activity. The Deseronto SF Society folds. (Member clubs down to 10.)
As to the nature of the clubs, Harry Warner Jr. writes: “Canada had at least 10 fan clubs in various centres toward the end of the decade. They were generally characterized by lots of discussion of science fiction & scientific possibilities. There was little of the faanish fandom that is supposed to be the beginning of the end of fan groups, but they didn’t last long, anyway. Collecting was popular, with good collections of magazines & books frequently discovered in the possession of someone previously unknown to fandom.”
1950 – Newsletter ceases publication. Hamilton club folds. (9 member clubs left.) Halifax club collapses. (8 left.) Thames club expires. (7 left.) Windsor club joins the Michigan Science Fantasy Society. (6 left.) Fantastellar Association disappears. (5 left.) Organizer Jack Bowie-Reed joins the Canadian army & goes off to fight in the Korean War. Winnipeg SF Society founded & affiliates with CSFA (back up to 6 member clubs).
1951 – Northern Fantasy Fan Federation fades away (down to 5 member clubs again). Ottawa SF Society folds. (4 left.) Toronto SF Society moribund. (3 left.) But, the Winnipeg SF Society fields a new CSFA executive with Chester Cuthbert as President & Cam Brown as Secretary. Newsletter is revived in February. A survey reveals only Winnipeg, Montreal & Picton clubs still viable.
1952 – Alastair Cameron publishes his 52 page FANTASY CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM on behalf of CSFA. Winnipeg takes over the circulating library project and collects several thousand books. Montreal club resumes the author pseudonym project. The Vancouver SF Society (founded Dec 1951) affiliates. (Member clubs back up to 4.) A Canadian Fan Directory is published. The Edmonton SF Society is founded and joins with CSFA in Nov. (5 now!) Significantly, the revived Toronto Club and the newly-formed Calgary & Windsor clubs refuse to affiliate.
1953 – Jack Bowie-Reed’s history of the CSFA is published. Membership holds steady at 150, of whom at least 100 belong to the five member clubs located in Montreal, Picton, Winnipeg, Edmonton & Vancouver. Executive consists of Honorary President Lloyd Eshbach, President Chester Cuthbert, Secretary/Treasurer Cam Brown & National Organizer Jack Bowie-Reed.
1954 – This may or may not mark the year of the CSFA’s decline. All I know is that I see no reference in my sources to any CSFA activity after 1953. Except for a brief reference by Gerald Steward, editor of CANADIAN FANDOM, in March 1954: “…that the group behind this organization is hard working and earnest… not just another Winnipeg farce like the CSFA…” Evidently CSFA had ceased activity by then, or at least some Canadian fen no longer considered it worthy of support. Perhaps many did not think a national organization was necessary anymore, or even useful.
Hmmnn, now that I think about it, you could say the CANADIAN SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION was an attempt to create a Canadian equivalent of the American NATIONAL FANTASY FAN FEDERATION but proved far less successful.
Note: Chester Cuthbert preserved the archives of the CSFA in his basement till October of 2007 when (hopefully) they were among the papers and 47 tons of books he donated to the University of Alberta. Chester subsequently passed away in March 20th of 2009. A Canadian fannish legend gone. (JBR) & (RGC)
[ See CANADIAN SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION: A HISTORY, CSFA NEWSLETTER, DESERONTO SF SOCIETY, EDMONTON SF SOCIETY, LAKEHEAD (Hamilton) SF SOCIETY, MONTREAL SF SOCIETY, OTTAWA SF SOCIETY, PICTON SF SOCIETY, TORONTO SF SOCIETY, WINNIPEG SF SOCIETY, VANCOUVER SF SOCIETY, WESTERN SF ASSOCIATION, NORTHERN FANTASY FAN FEDERATION, & FANTASTELLAR ASSOCIATION ]