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Can Vet J. 2010 January; 51(1): 11–12.
PMCID: PMC2797343

The early days of The CVJ

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Fifty years ago leaders of the veterinary profession in Canada arranged to begin publication of The Canadian Veterinary Journal (La Revue vétérinaire canadienne). These leaders included luminaries such as Jim Henderson, Jim Archibald, George Fisher, Rowan Walker and Laurent Choquette. Jim Archibald was the first editor-in-chief. He was followed by Doug Maplesden (1962–1963), C.M. Fraser (1963–1965), Jim Archibald again (1965–1967), Julius Frank (1968), Bob Dunlop (1969–1970), Joan Budd (1971–1972), Otto Radostits (1973–1978), L.P. Phaneuf (1979–1983), Harold Reed (1983–1985), W.T. Nagge (1985–1986), Grant Maxie (1986–1991), and Doug Hare (1991–2007).

The first issue included The Presidential Address by the outgoing CVMA president, Jim Henderson. That covered 7 of the 40 pages — and constituted an excellent report of activities and projection into the future. Dr. Henderson noted that provision for an official publication had been made when the CVMA was formed, but financial constraints had been responsible for the delay in implementation of the plan. He remarked that the CVMA was born poor, but that the journal was so important that they needed to get started despite their uncertain finances. In projecting into the future Dr. Henderson noted that “My major criticism of the veterinary curriculum in recent years is that it has tried, at the undergraduate level of training, to turn out a graduate capable of earning a living in any phase of that extremely wide field we call veterinary medicine. We have stretched the curriculum, and with it the student’s mental capacity, almost to the breaking point but we still fail to cover the field.” The appropriate responses took about 30 years and further action to meet these concerns is still being contemplated.

George Fisher, the incoming president of the CVMA, had a message whose importance has not diminished with time — “There is no gift so real as the gift of friendship, no jewel so priceless as man’s good will to man… we must be ever mindful of the responsibility we have to protect human health, to maintain the nation’s food supply and to assist our fellow men in their efforts to make a better world.” That first issue also included “personal news,” which reported births, marriages, and deaths and “News Notes,” which carried reports from each of the provinces and from the Caribbean. The report from the Caribbean is interesting — over the years there has been a close association between Canadian and Caribbean veterinarians, many of whom were graduates of the OVC.

The science section of that first issue consisted of 2 scientific articles, 2 case reports and 1 practical diagnosis. The advertisers were there from the beginning and have always been an important aspect of the publication, both in bringing information to veterinarians and in providing financial support for publication of the journal.

The purpose of The CVJ hasn’t changed over the years and it is therefore not surprising that many elements of the first issue have been retained over its 50-year lifetime. The intent was then, as it is today, to communicate with members on matters of importance — news, professional development, and clinical science. Although we have made significant technical advances in communication technology, communication was somewhat easier in the early years of the CVMA and The CVJ, largely because the Canadian graduates all came from 2 veterinary schools. Friendships formed at vet school continued with classmates and schoolmates all across the country.

Fifty years is a relatively short time in the life of a journal. The Veterinary Record has been going since 1888 and the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association since 1915. The CVJ has made changes over the 50 years to fulfill its mandate of communication with the members of the profession. These changes have included enhancements in cover design and layout, in the use of color, and in the scientific content. The availability of access to the journal through electronic databases, supplementation through information on the web, and the introduction of online submission of articles are all examples of changes to make use of modern technology.

What will The CVJ look like in 50 years? I could be somewhat wild in my predictions as I won’t have to defend my suggestion, but I think the pace of change is too fast for me to even try to predict for 2060. In 20 years, The CVJ will still be published — but not in paper format. It will be produced in a continuous rather than a periodic format, it will be accessed electronically, and it will allow for ready exchanges of comments and ideas among readers and authors. Readers will survey small capsules of information, then decide on those which they would like to read further. Presentations in the journal will include video clips. Advertisements will still be a part of the journal.

Finally, thanks to the thousands of people over the years who have made The CVJ what it is — the CVMA leaders, the CVMA members, the staff, the editors, the authors, the reviewers, and the advertisers.


Use of this article is limited to a single copy for personal study. Anyone interested in obtaining reprints should contact the CVMA office ( gro.vmca-amvc@nothguorbh) for additional copies or permission to use this material elsewhere.

Articles from The Canadian Veterinary Journal are provided here courtesy of Canadian Veterinary Medical Association