Brief History of CAPA-ACAP

Prepared by Chris Meiklejohn, Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, 1997

The Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology [CAPA] was founded at the 1972 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. It was the feeling of the founding members that Canadian Physical Anthropologists should not have to travel to Kansas in order to meet each other professionally. The founding members were Frank Auger [Montreal/deceased], Charlie Eyman [Calgary/Deceased], Geoff Gaherty [McMaster], Jamshed Mavalwala [Toronto], Jim Paterson [Calgary] and Chris Meiklejohn [Winnipeg]. From that base, the first meeting was organized, at Banff in February 1973. That meeting resulted in the election of Frank Auger as President, with Braxton Alfred as Secretary Treasurer, and Chris Meiklejohn as Editor.

The Association has succeeded in holding an annual meeting ever since, with the 24th meeting scheduled for Queens University, Kingston, in October 1996. After the initial meeting in Banff, there have been successive meeting as follows: 1974 – Peterborough [Trent], 1975 – Winnipeg, 1976 – Toronto, 1977 – Banff, 1978 – Niagara-on-the-Lake [McMaster], 1979 – Ste. Adele [Montreal], 1980 – Ottawa, 1981 – Banff, 1982 – Guelph, 1983 – Montreal, 1984 – Edmonton, 1985 – Thunder Bay, 1986 – Montreal [Jouvence], 1987 – Kempenfelt Centre, Lake Simcoe [Toronto], 1988 – Peterborough [Trent], 1989 – Vancouver [Simon Fraser], 1990 – Banff, 1991 – Hamilton, 1992 – Edmonton, 1993 – St. John’s, 1994 – Windsor, 1995 – Las Vegas.

The executive officers of the association are the President, Secretary-Treasurer and Editor. Following the initial executive, successive Presidents have been Emoke Szathmary, Susan Pfeiffer, Larry Sawchuk [1984-86], Nancy Ossenberg [1987-89], Nancy Lovell [1989-93], Anne Katzenberg [1993-1996], and Christine White.

Secretary Treasurers have been Hermann Helmuth, Nancy Ossenberg [1978-81], Sunny Jerkic, Shelley Saunders, Mary Jackes and Chris Meiklejohn.

Editors have been Ross MacPhee, Bill Wade, Jim Paterson, Francis Forest, Nancy Ossenberg [1989-91] and Hermann Helmuth.

The Association began a Newsletter in 1976 which was turned into a Journal, the Canadian Journal of Anthropology, in 1979. The Journal subsequently published 4 volumes, ending in 1985. Failure of the journal was a combination of low circulation outside the Assocation membership and the costs involved in putting out a low circulation journal. Since the journal ceased publication, the Association has put out a Newsletter.

The Association has also been involved in three other publication ventures. Associated with the 1976 meeting at Cedar Glen, outside of Toronto, was an international symposium in honour of Davidson Black, the Canadian anatomist who named Sinanthropus pekinensis in 1927. The symposium drew speakers from the United States, Germany, France, Indonesia and China. The conference produced a volume entitled “Homo erectus: Papers in honour of Davidson Black”, edited by Becky Sigmon and Jerry Cybulski, and published by University of Toronto Press. Stemming from the XIth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, in Vancouver in 1983, were two symposia partly sponsored by CAPA, leading to the publication, “Out of Asia: Peopling the Americas and the Pacific”, edited by Robert Kirk and Emoke Szathmary, with contributors from Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and Brazil. It was published as a special volume of the Journal of Pacific History. Finally, at the 1991 meeting in Hamilton, a symposium was organized to explore the results of the opening of the Iron Curtain. This resulted in the volume, “Before the Wall Fell: the Science of Man in Socialist Europe”, edited by Becky Sigmon, and published by Canadian Scholars Press, with contributions from Russia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Poland and Albania.

The Association is about to enter its 25th year. It currently has a membership approaching 100 members, almost half of whom are graduate students. It is represented in almost all provinces.