College History

Founded in June, 1954, we are a national medical association that supports family physicians in providing high quality health care to their patients. 

The College of Family Physicians of Canada's Board of Directors (1954)

At the time of the College’s inauguration in 1954, the College gavel was presented as a gift from the world’s oldest medical society, the Hippocratic Medical Association of the Island of Cos, to the youngest medical association, The College of General Practice of Canada. The gavel, with its unique serpent design, is fashioned from the wood of an ancient plane tree said to date back to the time of Hippocrates. The gavel has been present at every College Board of Directors meeting since 1954.

The gavel inspired the first official symbol of the College of General Practice of Canada: a Latin seal that incorporated the serpent entwined gavel with the name of the College and ten maple leaves to represent the ten provincial chapters. 

The National College took up residence at 174 St. George Street in Toronto, and later 150 Bloor Street, under the leadership of its first Executive Director, Dr. W. Victor Johnston. Dr. Johnston helped to establish the organization’s Provincial Chapters and to increase the College membership, focusing on providing training and leadership.

In the 1960s, Canada transformed public health under Medicare, celebrated its centennial, and, by the mid-1970s, had witnessed a transformation of social and political values across the country. Dr. Johnston retired in 1965 and was succeeded as Executive Director by Dr. Donald I. Rice, who moved the organization to 1941 Leslie Street in 1969, and then to 4000 Leslie Street in 1974.

As part of the celebration of Canada’s centennial in 1967, the College of General Practice of Canada changed its name to the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). The College was formally granted Letters Patent by the Parliament of Canada on March 16, 1968 as a not-for-profit corporation, and its coat of arms on June 27, 1980 by the Royal College of Heralds.

Dr. Rice retired in 1985 and was succeeded by Dr. Reg L. Perkin of Mississauga, Ontario.

In 1967, the College seal was updated to incorporate the Latin for the new name which reads: “Collegium Medicorum Familiae Canadense." The seal design retained the 10 maple leaves to represent the 10 provincial chapters of the College.

In 1991, the National office relocated from Leslie Street to its current offices at 2630 Skymark Avenue, in Mississauga. By the mid-1990s, membership was approximately 13,000 family physicians. 

Dr. Calvin Gutkin assumed the role of Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer in 1996. Meeting the needs for better training, stronger research, public advocacy, and partnership building amongst medical societies have become the priorities for the College, which as of 2014 has grown to more than 30,000 members across Canada. In 2007, family medicine was officially acknowledged as a specialty in Canada.

In 1996, a simplified version of the heraldic coat of arms was approved by the CFPC Board of Directors. Its design incorporates the shield from the coat of arms along with both the English and French names of the CFPC, side-by-side. 

Copyright © 1996-2014 The College of Family Physicians of Canada