Address given by Professor Gérard T. Simon at the banquet of the 25th Anniversary.

Mesdames et Messieurs, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Twenty-five years ago, a woman and six men founded the Microscopical Society of Canada. I was therefore tempted to address you with Dear Children, you have one mother and six fathers.

Before making my contribution to the early history of the Society, I would like, in the name of the founders present here at the museum, to thank the Organizing for inviting us. We are very much honored to be with you for this commemoration.

One can retrace the history of our Society back to 1958 when a group of electron microscopists was formed at the newly created Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. In 1960, this enlarged group became the Burton Society, named after Eli Burton who was the Chairman of the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto in the '30's. Burton, who studied at Cambridge with J.J. Thompson, the discover of electrons, was very much instrumental in the construction of the first North American electron microscope in 1938. This instrument as you know was constructed by Jim Hillier and Albert Prebus. Allan Howatson, the first President of our Society, was also the first President of the Burton Society. In 1965, following the meeting in Ottawa of the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies, the members of the Burton society were supposed to meet. The weather was exquisitely beautiful and nobody came. This was the end of the Burton Society. I tell you this would never have happened to our Society and I have the proof for it. In 1983, we met in Chalk River at the end of May. The weather was beautiful. Everybody, we are polite microscopists, attended the opening session. I saw people getting out and in. Around 10:30, I decided to sneak out. I opened the outside door. The skies were blue, the temperature agreeable. Suddenly I was attached by a billion black flies. This is how one makes sure that everybody attends the scientific sessions.

In the late '60's, the number of electron microscopists was constantly increasing in Canada, so also the frustration not to be represented at the international level. In 1970, at the 7th International Congress on Electron Microscopy in Grenoble, France, Allan Howatson and Huntington Sheldon participated as observers to the General Assembly of the International Federation of Societies for Electron Microscopy. They were told that unless Canada had a Society, it could not become a member of the Federation. The next day, the weather was beautiful, however, just after the presentation of Albert Crewe, who for the first time showed atoms photographed in his STEM, a group of Canadians discussed the possible creation of a national society. To be or not to be, this was not the question - it had to be.

In December of the same year, Frances Doane and Nan Anderson who were offering for many years an electron microscopy course geared toward microbiologists, wrote a letter to their alumni asking if the creation of a society was suitable. Almost all of them were in favor. In Toronto, the Philips Users' meetings organized by Ivan Grinyer certainly contributed also to gain support for the foundation of a society. On April 4, 1972, we met at the Ontario research Foundation in Mississauga. Present were Eric Chatfield, Frances Doane, Ivan Grinyer, Allan Howatson, Felix de la Iglesia, Harry Pullan and myself. A nice mixture from industry and university.

Eric and Harry worked at the Ontario Research Foundation; Felix for Warner-Lambert; Ivan for Philips; Allan, Frances and I at the University of Toronto. Several meetings followed. Felix proposed to include all types of microscopies, Frances gave the name, and I translated it. The original proposal was Canadian Society of Microscopy, Société de Microscopie du Canada. Frances opposed it. CSM meant already Canadian Society of Microbiologists. So it became the Microscopical Society of Canada. Poor Frances, 25 years later, she is still accused of using microscopical too small to be seen without the help of a microscope! Indeed, if one opens a Webster's dictionary, microscopical and microscopic both mean too small to be seen without the help of a microscope. I never doubted that coming from Nova Scotia, Frances' english had to be perfect. Take the Oxford dictionary and everything becomes clear. Microscopic means too small to be seen and microscopical means related to microscopy.

In early summer 1972, an exploratory meeting was organized at Laval University following the meeting of the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies. Many came supporting the founding of the Society. This was part of putting in place mechanisms to draft new members and give the Society a solid base to become successful coast to coast. We decided to incorporate the Society in Ottawa despite the fact that many national scientific societies are registered only in one province, generally in Ontario. We wanted the Society to be truly national and hoped in incorporating it in Ottawa, to avoid interprovincial conflicts. It costed more money. Allan remembered that the Burton Society had some. Ian Steiner and Henry Movat, last President and Treasurer of the Burton Society were contacted and 1090.43 $ were recuperated.*

The letters patent signed by the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs of Canada are dated November 1, 1972. The first officers of the Society were Alan Howatson, President; Harry Pullan and myself respectively 1st and 2nd Vice-Presidents, Felix de la Iglesia, Secretary; and Frances Doane, Treasurer, Eric Chatfield and Ivan Grinyer were the first Councillors-at-large.

In 1972, every second month, I went to Laval University to teach Residents in Pathology. A few Quebec microscopists complained that nobody from la Belle Province was among the founding members. I used all my diplomacy and Swiss neutrality to explain that many meetings were necessary to give shape to the Society and to write the bylaws. I encountered most difficulties with René Simard who eventually became President of the Medical Research Council. A year after, Felix and Harry made a program allowing to enter all of our members into a computer retrieving the listing and printing addresses. This was quite an achievement at this early time of electronic filing. After a few months, something rather strange happened. The number of members of the Society decreased. It was found that each time you retrieved the list from the computer, it dropped every 12th member. You guessed it - René Simard was one of the first casualties! He never believed my explanation.

The Bulletin of the Society came to life in February 1983. Frances designed the format, supervised the printing, contacted advertisers, and edited the scientific papers. She did this for 20 years. The Bulletin was and still is essential for the well being of the Society. Frances deserves our admiration for her tremendous dedication and efforts. She also looked after the finances of the Society from 1972 to 1981. She truly has been a great mother to us.

From the beginning, the Council encouraged the formation of sections. The Ontario section was formed in 1973, the Pacific and Quebec sections in 1974, the Atlantic section in 1978 and the Alberta section followed in 1979.

The first annual meeting was held in June 1974 at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. Jennifer Sturgess chaired the Organizing Committee consisting mainly of the founding members - we did obviously a good job - 175 microscopists participated. We had two prestigious guest speakers : Keith Porter and Charles Leblond. Keith, a Canadian born from Nova Scotia, presented his first results using a high voltage electron microscope. There were already hints of the organisation of the microskeleton. In a second presentation, he showed exquisite pictures of mesothelial cells taken with a SEM. I shall always remember these cells exhibiting a single centrally located cilium. I had the honor to introduce Charles Leblond. I made it with one sentence The man who changed static histology into a dynamic science. He illustrated the theory of the unitarian origin of the various types of intestinal epithelium. Two young or not so young Canadian microscopists made superb contributions. Peter Ottensmeyer presented results obtained using his energy field and Geoff Haggis compared freeze drying and critical point drying for SEM. His pictures of the fractured cells, particularly the nucleus, were exquisite. John Watson, a great entertainer and singer, was asked to give the after dinner talk. He gave a great performance on his days in Toronto in the early '40's using the microscope built in 1938. He also infected a few of us with the historical virus, which eventually led to several publications on the construction of the microscope. Frances Doane, Ursula Franklin, George Weatherly, John Watson and myself were among those contaminated. The buffet offering superb food was very successful. At the end, I saw one big salmon from which only bones and head were left. Two Chinese microscopists were fighting for whom should get the head, a real delicacy for oriental people.

End of August of the same year, Jennifer Strugess and I went to Canberra, Australia for the 8th International Congress on Electron Microscopy. We represented Canada and attended the General Assembly of members, which started with a dinner. The atmosphere was strange to say the least. The delegates were very polite, however, refusing to enter into any conversations. After the dinner, we moved to an amphitheater used by the university. I shall always remember the size of the seats, each wide as a love seat. In my imagination, I could not help seeing 100 elephants sitting in the amphitheater. The first item on the agenda the candidacy of Canada to become a member of the Federation. Unanimously, we were allowed to join with two voting delegates. According to the size of the societies, they are represented from one to four delegates emphasized. The second item, the site of the 9th International Congress in 1978. The Americans presented San Francisco. We, I take the entire responsibility for it, had an invitation from the University of Toronto and the mayor of the city, to hold the congress in Toronto in 1978. A long and heated discussion followed. The debates became more and more passionate. After more than half and hour, Vernon Cosslett, the President of the International Federation interrupted saying to my knowledge, the war between the Us and Canada ended in 1812. It came to a vote and we won. Back to Toronto, the reception by Council was not exhilarating which is understandable.

Our second annual meeting was held in 1975 at Laval University. We hoped for a good meeting, we were granted with excellence. Two speakers : Jean Lafontaine who with Wilhelm Bernardt and Hans Riss was a world authority in nuclear research spoke on Études biochimiques et ultrastructurales du noyau interphasique; Allan Howatson, a pioneer in the ultrastructure of viruses presented Recent advances in the autolysis of virus structure. Two sessions were dedicated to recent advances in specimen analysis to which, among other, J. Sturgess, L. Peachey, G. Bahr, P. Ottensmeyer, E. Chatfield and A.L. Curzon took part. The weather was beautiful and the temptation to skip sessions was great. Fortunately, a young woman decided to the contrary pushing everybody back to the source of science. Her name, Roberta Bondar, the future Canadian astronaut. I cannot forget another little anecdote related to this meeting. Jim Pawley arrived with his canoe and decided to take it with him into his motel room. Helped by P. Ottensmeyer and other microscopists, they entered the boat into the room however it squeezed the entrance so that Jim had to sleep with an open door.*

In 1976, the meeting organized by Geoff Haggis in Ottawa was the first large scale endeavor In addition to Leonard Francis Bélanger, who was the distinguished lecturer, 36 speakers from Canada and the United States were invited. Among them, Michael Isaacson, David Joy who is here 20 years later, Bob Fisher the organizer of the 12th International Congress in Seattle in 1990; Jean-Paul Revel and David Trump, the father of Systematic Diagnostic Electron Microscopy. The Society was able to attract international speakers. It was encouraging for the Organizing Committee of the forthcoming international meeting.

A few anecdotal words on the 1977 meetings in London, Ontario. At the General Assembly, one of the members questioned almost every item on Frances Doane's Treasurer's report. She showed some signs of being upset. The next day the new council met. Frances, Geoff Haggis, Peter Ottensmeyer and I looked at each other. The inquisitive member had been elected to council! His name, Vernon Barber from St-John's, Newfoundland who eventually became Treasurer of the Society. From this time on, Peter Ottensmeyer always addressed Vernon as the honorable member from Newfoundland. At the same meeting, I had asked a member of the Organizing Committee to park my car. Later that night, John Watson offered to drive me to the parking lot. The barrier was down. We looked at each other and I told John try with a credit card to open the gate. This did not work. Jokingly, I added try with your American Express card. He passed it through the slit and miraculously, it opened. We should have sold this to American Express. I am sure it would have become one of their best advertisements!

In 1977, Felix left for the United States. He was replaced as Secretary by Dick Parsons from Chalk River. It is at this time that to maintain continuity in the affairs of the Society, the position of Executive Secretary was created. Nan Anderson became the first Executive Secretary and dedicated herself to the Society for the next 16 years. She has to be congratulated and thanked for her tremendous work.

At the first annual meeting, John Watson and Bill Ladd tried the 1938 microscope exhibited at the Ontario Science Centre in a reconstruction of the original laboratory where it had been constructed. Two years later, when we went to negotiate the reception we intended to give at the centre during the International Congress, I discovered to my horror that the display had been dismantled and that the microscope has disappeared. It was found, thank God, but ready to be sold for scrap. With the help of Tuzo Wilson, the Director of the Ontario Science Centre, the microscope was saved and is now proudly exhibited at the Ontario Science Centre. It is behind glass so that nobody can be tempted to use it. It is not shielded and has become a better X-ray machine.

Let me just say few words on the 5th Annual Meeting which was the 9th International Congress on Electron Microscopy held in Toronto, August 1-9, 1978. More than 3 000 scientists participated. 756 abstracts were received. 96 guest speakers participated to 21 symposia. 110 young scientists from all over the world participated free of charge. They were lodged and fed at our expense. The national societies provided their airfare. Evenings at the home of microscopists in Toronto were organized so that these young scientists could meet the guest speakers. The University of Toronto held a special convocation to award honorary degrees to Keith Porter, James Hillier, Albert Prebus, Cecil Hall and Ernst Ruska. This could not have been achieved but for the dedication of the Organizing Committee headed by an executive to which belonged Peter Ottensmeyer, Vic Kalnins, Frances Doane and myself. Jennifer Sturgess was in charge of the proceedings. Every task was important. 19 other Torontonians worked very hard. Two secretaries, Jane Rooney and Eileen Duh were hired and worked full time for almost two years. On little drawback; we ended in the red. Frances and myself gave to the bank our houses as collateral and decided that if necessary, we would go to jail together. Frances was not so thrilled to share a cell with me, so with Nan Anderson, she sold so many proceedings that very rapidly we were again in the black.

The Congress gave wings to the Society. Annual meetings were held from Vancouver to St- John's. Joint meeting were organized every four years with the American Society. A list of EM facilities was established and regularly updated. Certification of electron microscopy technologists is now officially the responsibility of our Society. Many people contributed and will continue to dedicate themselves to the Society. It is sad that Allan Howatson is not anymore with us to celebrate this 25th Anniversary. He died in 1982 from cancer, the disease on which he had conducted his research for more than 30 years. I am sure he would have agreed with Jean Monnet, the founder of the European community, who said, L'important ce n'est pas ce que l'on a créé mais ce qui en est advenu. What is important is not what founded but what came out of it.

Thank you
Merci beaucoup

T. Simon

*paragraph given in French