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Can Vet J. 2010 January; 51(1): 15–21.
PMCID: PMC2797344

Celebrating 50 Years!

The Canadian Veterinary Journal

Happy Birthday CVJ!

The Canadian Veterinary Journal and your humble servant have something in common. It’s true that both of us can provide more words than most reasonable people can digest at one sitting…but never mind that! The truth is that both of us turn 50 years old within about 2 months of each other. One of us has nary a gray hair and is more popular than ever. I’m envious. Both of us can look back fondly to the very beginning and wonder where the time has gone.

Flipping through the pages of The Canadian Veterinary Journal, Volume 1, Number 1 from January of 1960, one can’t escape the signs that time has passed. Then, as now, The CVJ contained a news section to keep Canadian veterinarians abreast of what was happening across the country. That January issue reported that The CVJ’s first editor-in-chief, Dr. J. Archibald, met with his Editorial Committee in Ottawa on September 19, 1959 to finalize details of the new journal. These included the appointment of a business manager and clerical staff, setting of an advertising policy, agreement on the names “The Canadian Veterinary Journal” and “La Revue vétérinaire canadienne,” and setting the subscription rate for members at $3 per year.

The news section of that first journal also reported on 5 births, 3 deaths and 2 marriages!

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At the front of Volume 1 was a transcript of CVMA president, Dr. J.A. Henderson’s address at the 1959 CVMA convention in Guelph, Ontario. Dr. Henderson reported on the CVMA’s efforts to entice provincial associations to collect the $20 annual CVMA dues, and on the findings of the Western Canadian Veterinary Study Committee recommending the construction of a veterinary college in western Canada. Dr. Henderson reassured members that the construction of a western Canadian college would not result in an “overpopulation of the profession.”

Under the heading of “the more things change the more they stay the same,” a portion of Dr. Henderson’s address bears quoting:

“My second suggestion concerns veterinary education, which is obviously the crux of the problem. If veterinarians have deficiencies, and let us admit they have, the colleges must take a large share of the responsibility both for their existence and for their correction. 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.”

Sound familiar?

That first edition contained a few advertisements including one for Master horsemeat and gravy: “the best all-meat pet food sold, complete with garden-fresh vegetables and good lean meat!”

The Health of Animals Division of the Canada Department of Agriculture was looking for qualified veterinarians to fill positions in research, contagious disease field work and meat inspection. Recent graduates could expect $5400 annual salary with the opportunity to reach $6780 after a few years of experience. Generous holiday and sick leave provisions were offered as well as a group hospital medical plan in the pre-Medicare era.

Volume 1 Number 1 contained 4 major scientific articles: Nutritional Muscular Dystrophy in Calves, Bat Transmitted Paralytic Rabies in Trinidad, Trichobezoar or Hair Ball in a Cat, and Identical Fibro-Sarcomata on Two Mute Swans.

That first issue weighed-in at little more than 40 pages but it got the ball rolling on a publication that has developed an international reputation and consistently ranks as the most valued membership benefit for CVMA members.

All in all, the journal looks pretty good for 50 and there isn’t a hint of a mid-life crisis. I’m envious.

(You can have a look at that first issue of The Canadian Veterinary Journal online at PubMed Central:

—Greg Harasen, assistant editor

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Above: An advertisement from 1960.

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Above: An advertisement from 2009.

More birthday wishes…

There is always a certain amount of entertainment in looking back and comparing a span of years, for example 50. Before other personal expressions of nostalgic sentiment and celebratory congratulations are put forth it might be well worth the time to reflect on certain hard facts from 1960 and today.

Number of published pages in the year2781320 (2009)
CVMA members1611 (1959)5525 (2009)
Subscription rate$3/yr$170/yr
Membership cost$10/yr$250/yr
Advertising revenuen/a$709 915.30 (2008)
Number of visuals12 (Vol. 1, No. 1)21 (Vol. 50, No. 11)
Color pagesnone52 (Vol. 50, No. 11)

But as it has been noted, along with the progress that has been made within the pages of The CVJ there are conditions or circumstances that remain the same. Here are 2 quotes from the first year of publication that are still relevant and meaningful today.

“The inauguration of The Canadian Veterinary Journal will be a source of satisfaction to every veterinarian across Canada. The publication by the Profession, for the first time, of a truly national journal represents the ‘coming of age’ of the Profession.

“We earnestly solicit your support. News items, articles, case histories, will be needed. Your comments and letters will be welcome. We would like to become a clearing house of information for our members, and you are invited to use the facilities of the Journal.”

—from editors and staff of The CVJ in Vol. 1, No. 2

“The establishment of our own journal is doubtlessly one of the milestones in our professional history. Let us all put forth extra effort to strengthen our relationships both within and without the profession.”

—from George C. Fisher, CVMA president in Vol. 1, No. 1

An appropriate way to introduce 2010 and the next era of publishing for The CVJ also comes from Dr. Fisher in that same address:

The years roll by, friends come and go. With the birth of a New Year, we pause to remember those who have gone, to appreciate the good friends who remain and to anticipate with delight the new friendships to be made in the months to come. It is my honour and joy to wish you and those dear to you a New Year of health, prosperity and above all, happiness.

—The present editors and staff of The CVJ extend greetings and best wishes for 2010!

50 years

The Canadian Veterinary Journal (The CVJ) fulfills 2 important roles. As the only monthly Canadian journal with scientific, peer-reviewed animal health content, it keeps the profession across the country up to date with new veterinary science. At the same time, it provides authors with the opportunity to publish. Furthermore, The CVJ provides news updates from across the country.

The CVMA publishes The CVJ in print and online via PubMed Central ( In 2002, The CVJ and the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research (also published by the CVMA) were the first 2 veterinary journals published on PubMed Central. This provides practitioners, academia, students, and researchers with instant access to the scientific and feature content published in both journals beginning with the first issue published.

In 2009, The CVJ provided access to more than 1300 pages of pertinent information. Over the past years, The CVJ has undergone various changes including an evolving list of feature articles, perfect binding, visual redesigns, and an increased use of color.

A small army of volunteers serve in an editing and peer-reviewing capacity, and another much smaller infantry of staff toil to bring readers new issues of The CVJ each month. Congratulations and thank you to all the authors, volunteers, and staff involved in producing and disseminating this pertinent material every month.

—Jost am Rhyn, executive director, CVMA

Some can read but canna write, and some wad write that want it, but vets can read and some do write, sae The CVJ be thankit.

With apologies to the Selkirk Grace (Robert Burns 1759–1796)

—Dr. Doug Hare, former editor-in-chief

Wow! 50 years of veterinary publishing, congratulations to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, our previous and current Canadian Veterinary Journal staff, editors, reviewers, and readers. The Canadian Veterinary Journal has been on my desk for almost 40 years and I am very proud of this Journal. Having been an author and reviewer of peer-reviewed manuscripts, a special feature writer, and finally the assistant and now associate editor over the last 2 decades, it has been an honor to work with many staff members and 3 great editors-in-chief; I am indebted to each of them. I am continually impressed with the increasing number of submissions, increasing size and quality of the Journal, the consistency of the editing, the solid readership and budget, and an ever increasing impact factor. The Canadian Veterinary Journal remains the voice of the CVMA, and the publishing conduit of the Canadian clinical researcher. Congratulations!

—Dr. Bruce H. Grahn, associate editor

The CVJ continues to be the communication catalyst for the profession in Canada. Not only is it a venue to highlight the activities within the CVMA, it is an internationally respected scientific journal.

—Dr. Julie de Moissac, president, CVMA

The CVJ was under threat of being reduced to a newsletter rather than a peer-reviewed journal when I was appointed editor-in-chief in 1986. The Journal staff conducted a readership survey that demonstrated support for a vibrant Journal, and as a result we revamped the graphics, engaged an advertising representative, and turned the Journal into a more profitable enterprise that better served the needs of CVMA members. Also added to the Journal were features such as editorials, expanded news content, veterinary medical ethics, book reviews, and diagnostic ophthalmology. A better mix of small animal and large animal articles was achieved; maintaining this mix continues to be a challenge. It was also realized that it was important not to rely solely on volunteer editors, and the services of Dr. Doug Hare (an excellent choice!) were contracted as the first part-time paid editor-in-chief. All in all, The CVJ took a turn for the better, and continued to grow through the 90s, and continues into the 21st century.

—Dr. Grant Maxie, former editor-in-chief

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Right: The Board of Directors of the CVMA from 1960.

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Above: The CVMA Council photographed in November 2009.

My association with the CVMA and The CVJ probably began very shortly after I started my studies at the WCVM in 1983. I was elected (likely by acclamation) to the position of external vice-president of the veterinary students association. That meant I was given the opportunity to travel to the CVMA Convention each summer to meet with student representatives of the other veterinary schools in Canada, as well as with the CVMA Executive. I learned quickly that not only was The CVJ a source of scientific information, but also the best place to find news about the profession in Canada.

My involvement with The CVJ became more active following my return to the WCVM, in 1989, to pursue graduate studies in veterinary pathology. During this time I began to write scientific manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals and it was often most appropriate to publish in The CVJ. I also started playing hockey for the “Vet Med” team in the “age challenged” campus league. I had more than a few conversations about The CVJ with my teammates that happened to include Bill Yates, who later become chair of the Editorial Committee.

I became a member of the faculty at the WCVM in 1996 and continued to publish in our national organization’s journals (including the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research). And it’s satisfying to know that just as my mentors helped me, I have helped several graduate and undergraduate veterinary students “get published” in The CVJ. When I think of mentors (“wise and trusted guides and advisors”) I think of Doug Hare. Through his role and meticulous work as editor-in-chief of The CJV, he probably taught me as much about writing and publishing as anyone.

While I have certainly benefited from my association with The CVJ, I hope that the relationship has been reciprocal. I respect the peer-review process and appreciate all of those who give generously of their time and expertise. So, in return, I have been grateful for the opportunity to provide a review of about 20 manuscripts submitted to The CVJ for publication. In 2008, I was flattered to begin a stint as the editor of Pathologists’ Corner and I look forward to working with Carlton Gyles to produce articles that are informative or illustrative of important concepts in pathology or challenges in veterinary diagnostic investigation.

Finally, it’s been fun to have 3 images, that I have taken with my own camera, appear on the cover of The CVJ. My wife, Carmen, finds it amusing that whenever I’m out with my camera I’m not so much waiting for the next “Kodak moment” with my kids as I am thinking ahead to the next “CVJ moment” of an animal.

So, when I reflect on my involvement with The CVJ, the themes that come to mind are those of learning, contributing, and the opportunity to meet and work with good people.

Changes in the culture of pet ownership, as well as changes in agricultural practices have made it necessary for veterinarians from time to time to re-examine certain practices. The Canadian Veterinary Journal’s ethics column has provided a format unique among professional journals for examining such issues. The ethics questions have resulted in replies to the column, letters to the editor, articles in The Canadian Veterinary Journal, and the occasional very angry reader. Perhaps more important are the number of veterinary practices that report that the entire clinic staff become involved in discussing some questions. As the veterinary profession changes over time, new questions regarding our ethical responsibilities will arise. It has been the willingness of The CVJ readership and Dr. Rollin to address these emerging ethical issues that has kept this feature current. I am grateful to The CVJ for its on-going commitment to ensuring that ethical concepts in veterinary medicine are given a professional forum for discussion.

—Dr. Tim Blackwell, feature editor

The CVJ was the first veterinary journal I ever tried to read. I remember as a first year student looking through the journal and being overwhelmed by the scientific wording and then in my final year realizing that I was now able to not only read the articles but sometimes be critical of a poorly designed study. The journal was a nice gauge that at a time in my career when I had lots of doubts about my abilities, it was a measure that I indeed had learned a new language and gained a huge amount of knowledge during my undergraduate studies.

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Above: The first editor-in-chief of The CVJ, Dr. James Archibald.

The CVJ was one of the first journals to publish one of my papers and I also think the first journal to reject one of my manuscripts, both valuable experiences.

—Dr. Robert Friendship, assistant editor

A while back I was on a hike with a colleague in New Zealand. He was taking great pleasure in ribbing me about The Canadian Veterinary Journal, his comment was that he had sent an article to a few journals and when it was ultimately rejected by The CVJ he knew there was no hope. I felt obliged to make some similar comments about the New Zealand Veterinary Journal, but it was all in fun.

The exchange did make me think about the importance of a national veterinary journal. The world has become very small over the past 20 years, and it is easy to collaborate with colleagues around the globe. Many of our journals have a very international perspective. I have often been asked why I would choose to submit an article to The CVJ rather than to some of the more specialty oriented journals. The major reason is the readership. The CVJ reaches most practising veterinarians in Canada, as well as the international scientific community; it is uniquely Canadian.

As a clinical researcher I hope that the work I do will ultimately be of benefit to our patients and veterinary practitioners. In my opinion The CVJ does a great job of disseminating this information. I have always been very proud of our Journal, I published my first article in The CVJ and continue to target it, if I would like to reach a Canadian audience. My tenure as an assistant editor has increased my appreciation for the work involved behind the scenes, particularly the work performed by the reviewers, which is often performed without receiving much credit, but it is so vital to maintain the quality of the Journal.

On reflection of the content over the past 20 years, I think my favorite article in The CVJ dealt with the many uses of a Swiss army knife. A couple of weeks ago I was in the field working on reindeer. I was removing a PRN cap from an IV catheter with my leatherman and realized that we need a follow up article; it’s time to move into the 21st century.

—Dr. Nigel Caulkett, assistant editor

Since 1989, I have been assistant editor for The Canadian Veterinary Journal and I have worked with several different persons in the Editorial Committee over the years. The implementation of the informatic system OSPREY has certainly modified the way we operate in a more efficient manner, a good step considering the increased number of manuscripts, with several submitted from other countries—an indication of the good reputation of The CVJ.

—Dr. Alice Bouffard, former assistant editor


One of the few advantages to getting older is that there are more special anniversaries to celebrate. On a personal note, in August 2009, Jean and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary; on a broader professional basis, in June, the Class of 1969 greatly enjoyed commemorating our 40th anniversary of graduation from the Ontario Veterinary College. Now, on a far grander scale, the entire Canadian veterinary profession can celebrate the 50th anniversary of publication of our very own Canadian Veterinary Journal.

Many of us may recall the slim, stapled, black-and-white version that we received in the Journal’s early days. A great deal of change has occurred that may be partially measured by the increasing numbers of manuscripts received, the advent of new columns, and the enhanced impact factor of the journal. The Journal’s success may be directly attributed to the quality of the articles received and also to the guidance provided by our reviewers who ensure a very high standard. We are also very fortunate to have had excellent leadership provided by The CVJ Editorial Committee members over the years. The extremely capable and motivated permanent staff in Ottawa continues to most capably guide the daily efforts necessary to publish our Journal.

The highly polished, glossy, color journal that you now hold has come a long way. Over 50 years our Journal has become a highly respected publication, frequently referenced in the scientific literature. We should all be very proud to have achieved this 50-year milestone.

—Dr. Ronald Lewis, chair, Editorial Committee

Thirty years ago, I began teaching the world’s first course in veterinary medical ethics as a required part of the curriculum at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. In virtue of this effort, I received the Henry Spira Award from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing for being the “father of veterinary medical ethics.” If I am the father, surely The Canadian Veterinary Journal, Dr. Tim Blackwell, Dr. Grant Maxie, and Dr. Doug Hare have been the nurturing mothers, with the monthly veterinary ethics column they created in 1990 in The CVJ. Thanks to their vision and to the enthusiastic support of the readers of The CVJ, the cases discussed in that column, now numbering well over 200, have served to awaken an avid interest in the field of veterinary ethics in veterinarians and veterinary students all over the world. There is nothing comparable to this column in any other country, nor in human medicine anywhere in the world. I salute and thank The CVJ, and its readers, for its courage, vision, and pioneering contribution to what is an ever-increasingly important part of veterinary medicine.

—Dr. Bernard E. Rollin, ethics contributor

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