On February 14th, 1947, a group of geologists met at the Engineers’ Club in Toronto with the objective of creating the Geological Institute of Canada, an association of geologists which would, among other things, promote, discuss and disseminate geological knowledge. A second meeting on March 11th, 1947, resulted in a preliminary Constitution and Bylaws as well as the election of the first Councillors, a change of name to the Geological Association of Canada and 140 charter members. From the outset, the Association was designed to fill a role similar to that of the Geological Society of America, bridging a gap between the perceived industrial mineral orientation of the Geological Division of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and the purely scientific objectives of Section IV of the Royal Society of Canada.

The Objects of the Association include:

  • to promote the science of geology and closely related fields of study and to promote the knowledge of the members in connection there with;
  • to hold conferences, meetings and exhibitions for the discussion of geological problems and the exchange of views in matters related to geology;
  • to publish various journals and collections of learned papers dealing with geology.

Membership in the GAC® has expanded from a predominantly mineral-oriented, Toronto-based group to a truly national body with representatives in three territories and all provinces, with a reasonable membership in the United States, Europe and in other parts of the world.

The Association has done much to promote and disseminate geological knowledge. One of GAC®‘s important functions has been to hold regular formal meetings. These have usually been as joint ventures with one or more sister geological societies in Canada, and occasionally by hosting or co-hosting major international geological organizations. Nuna conferences, generally smaller in size, also advance geological knowledge on topical issues.

Besides the Annual meetings which average about 1000 participating geologists, the Association has been responsible for the creation of a wide range of publications promoting the advancement of many different geological disciplines both within and outside of Canada. The earliest publications produced on a regular basis were those distributed through the Proceedings of the Geological Association, commencing in 1947, and continuing to 1972 when it was replaced by Geoscience Canada. Geoscience Canada is a quarterly scientific journal. In general, contributors provide reviews of topics of current interest in their field of specialization in a style that will interest and inform both specialists in other fields of geoscience and non-specialist earth-science readers. These include topical series of invited reviews suitable for reference or teaching purposes.

GAC® also publishes GEOLOG, a lively newsmagazine normally published four times a year, that reports current happenings in the Canadian geological community. Besides its own periodical publications, the GAC® actively promotes and recognizes the National Research Council sponsored journals:
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Canadian Geotechnical Journal
Environmental Reviews as being the major national forum for the dispersal of geological knowledge. These journals are offered on an optional basis to the members. In 1957, the Association produced the first in a continuing series of Special Papers, aimed at providing state-of-the-art summaries in areas of geological expertise, usually with a Canadian content. Subjects covered have been diverse and have reflected the GAC® Council’s desire to serve, not only the membership of the Association, but the geological community as a whole. They range from site-specific descriptions, to regional summaries of Canadian importance, to syntheses of world-wide importance.

The Association has also produced or co-produced other types of publications such as short course notes, field guides to many different areas and an extremely successful GEOtext series that began with the publication of the ever-popular sedimentological publication, Facies Models. The Association was also responsible for initiating Palaeontographica Canadiana, a paleontological monograph series which commenced publication with joint sponsorship by the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists in 1983. Most recently, GAC® has initiated a new line of miscellaneous publications featuring such diverse productions as current Howard Street Robinson Lecture Tours on CD and general interest tour guides.

GAC® nationally provides recognition for prominent Canadian geological contributions by a series of individual awards including the Logan Medal (for sustained distinguished achievement in Canadian earth science), the Ambrose Medal (for sustained dedicated service to the Canadian earth science community), the Past Presidents’ Medal, renamed the W.W. Hutchison Medal in 2003 (awarded to a young individual for recent exceptional advances in Canadian earth science research), and the E.R.Ward Neale Medal (for sustained outstanding efforts in sharing earth science with Canadians). GAC® also has several Service Awards and an Yves Fortier Earth Science Journalism Award. Several of GAC®‘s Divisions also present awards. The Howard Street Robinson Lecture Tour by a distinguished lecturer in the mineral sector and/or in Precambrian geology also takes place annually.

As the membership of the Association gradually expanded, groups began to express a desire to hold meetings either on a regional scale or along disciplinary lines. Council responded by encouraging the formation of Sections (regional groups within GAC®), Associated Societies, where membership in GAC® was desirable but not compulsory, and Divisions of GAC® (disciplinary groups). Sections of the GAC® include the AQUEST(Quebec), Cordilleran, Pacific, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Newfoundland & Labrador.  The Associated Societies include the Atlantic Geoscience Society, the Toronto Geological Discussion Group, the Canadian Quaternary Association, the Canadian Geophysical Union, and the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists and the American Geophysical Union. The GAC® Divisions include Canadian Geomorphology Research Group, Canadian Sedimentology Research Group, Environmental Earth Science, Geomatics, Geophysics, Isotope Sciences, Marine Geosciences, Mineral Deposits, Paleontology, Precambrian, Structural Geology and Tectonics, Volcanology and Igneous Petrology and Planetary Science. Further contact with these groups and the parent body is encouraged by the trans-Canada rotation of annual meeting sites.

The Geological Association of Canada was responsible for the initiation of the Canadian Geological Foundation, and, in conjunction with other geological bodies, was one of the principal forces behind the creation of the Canadian Geoscience Council (now CFES).

In summary, the Geological Association of Canada has contributed in a significant manner to the promotion and development of the geological sciences in Canada. The organization has grown to a multifaceted, truly national body, with a membership which reflects the three major professional groups of geologists as well as consultants and contractors. Industrial support to the Association has been made by a variety of companies in the form of Corporate Membership. For the first twenty years, the Association operated with a series of voluntary executives in temporary quarters. During the period between 1967 and 1983, a degree of stability was established at the University of Waterloo, but this was followed with a move to Memorial University of Newfoundland in the summer of 1983 where it continues to be housed. The business of the Association is conducted by the 18 voluntary members of Council and a staff of 3 full-time employees and one part-time employee that administer the day-to-day operations of membership, publishing, and finance.

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