Canadian Metric Association
The Canadian Metric Association (CMA) was founded in 1969 as a non-profit organization to promote the adoption of the metric system in Canada, to conduct research into various aspects of its practical application, and to contribute to the metric education of the general public.
According to the late Joseph B. Reid in the June 1979 issue of CMA's Metric Message — he was then CMA's President and Editor — the Canadian Metric Association considers the U.S. Metric Association to be CMA's “parent organization.” When the USMA Newsletter made its appearance in April 1966, a fair number of Canadians joined USMA (then called simply the Metric Association) because there was no equivalent in Canada. Among those members was Albert J. Mettler of Fonthill, Ontario, who was elected a Vice President of USMA in December 1966.
In the summer of 1969, Mettler formed the Canadian Metric Association as a separate unit affiliated with USMA; the symbol in CMA's logo, shown above, is the same as used in USMA's logo at the time. Beginning in February 1970, Canadian members received the USMA newsletter plus a Canadian Supplement.
In 1973, the second President of the Canadian Metric Association, Professor Guy W.-Richard, drew up a constitution and succeeded in getting a Federal Charter for the organization. The Canadian supplements to the USMA newsletter then ended when Jeff Van Den Hurk launched The Canadian Metric Association Newsletter in September 1973.
In June 1975, the CMA newsletter was renamed Metric Message (Message Métrique).The new name was carefully chosen to be distinctive from other metric newsletters that were published at the time, as well as being a name that is nearly identical in English and French. Articles in French appeared occasionally.
Beginning with the December 1975 issue of Metric Message, the Canadian Metric Association, “with many regrets and because of rising costs,” ceased to distribute the USMA newsletter to its members. From then on, CMA members received only the Metric Message (unless they were also members of USMA). This action symbolized the attainment of independent status by the Canadian Metric Association, without denying that the U.S. Metric Association was its inspiration. Since then there has been no formal connection between the two Metric Associations, but friendly relations have continued on an information and personal basis.
Throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s, CMA issued a series of publications in the form of tri-fold brochures. Some were called CMA Publications, while others were called Metric Fact Sheets. At least 36 were produced, although some were dropped over time and others changed titles. They covered a wide variety of topics, including some “fringe” areas such as advocating the decimal comma, replacing angular degrees with gons, and suggesting hard-metric package sizes.
There was some controversy as to whether CMA publications and fact sheets represented official CMA policy, although it appears that they were primarily intended as an information resource rather than as statements of policy.
The purpose and objectives of CMA were listed in CMA Publication No. 1 in May 1981. These objectives are much broader than those of the USMA, delving into standards not directly related to metrication, namely:
To promote nationwide adoption of the metric system and its modern expanded version, known as SI (le Système International d'Unités), by means of meetings, lectures and correspondence, and through publication of articles, circulars, pamphlets, and newsletters.
To contribute to a better understanding of the metric system, by disseminating knowledge of its basic principles and its many advantages.
To provide guidance in the correct use of metric units and symbols, according to the international rules, regulations, and conventions, including: correct terminology; correct choice of units and symbols; correct writing methods of numerical values; and correct conversion and rounding methods.
To support the introduction of international metric standards, such as: ISO paper sizes; international clothing and shoe sizes; ISO metric screw threads; and modular coordination in building construction.
To encourage the implementation of other international standards and practices, such as: the 24-hour time system; international traffic signs; and other international signs and symbols.
To advocate a rational choice of numerical values for the sizes of food packages and other consumer products, based on: a) the 1 - 2 - 5 series of numbers; b) the preferred number or Renard series; or c) any other regular mathematical progression which is compatible with basic decimal principles.
In 1981 the Board of Directors of CMA at its Annual Executive Meeting decided that the CMA should gradually wind down its operations, partly because of decreasing membership, but mainly on the belief that the organization had fulfilled its primary mission.
That step was taken in consideration of the fact that the metric system was by then accepted by most people in Canada, and was not opposed by any significant group, and the bulk of the Canadian metric conversion program had been achieved. Therefore, the consensus of the Board was that metrication was no longer an issue in Canada.
The decision to cease newsletter publication also took into consideration the fact that news about metrication around the world was becoming scarcer. Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa had completed metrication, while metrication in the U.K. and U.S. was voluntary and moving much more slowly. In addition, CMA felt that Metric Commission Canada was not adequately publicizing CMA, making it difficult to remain a viable part of Canadian metric conversion.
Volume 10 number 4, dated December 1982, was the last issue of Metric Message. Even so, CMA planned to continue its other operations as finances permitted. However, no further issues of Metric Message have been produced to date. All issues of the CMA newsletter, including supplements to USMA's Newsletter, have been scanned and are available in PDF from USMA as part of the Metric Today archive CD.
As any resident of, or visitor to, Canada can tell, life in Canada is a mixture of metric and non-metric measurement, mainly because of the vast influence of the United States across the border. Since CMA never totally disbanded, there is an effort under way to once again work towards completing Canadian metrication. The CMA, like the USMA and the UKMA, realize that their respective countries live with a dual-unit situation that will continue until conversion is more complete. Hopefully, by working together the three organizations can be more effective in their metrication efforts.
To contact CMA, e-mail John Bailes, P. Eng., at email@example.com.
Back to USMA home.
Copyright © 2007-2012, U.S. Metric Association (USMA), Inc. All rights reserved.
Web hosting courtesy of Colorado State University.
Website maintained by USMA Webmaster.