CanaColl logo Canacoll: A foundation supporting the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes (CNC)

HISTORY OF CANACOLL

The Canacoll Foundation was granted its ‘Letters Patent’ by the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs on December 5th, 1972 as a Registered Corporation. These Letters Patent enabled the Corporation “to advance taxonomic research on the Canadian National Collection of insects, and to establish and maintain a fund for the furtherance of the above-mentioned object”. Canacoll was subsequently also established as a charitable organization on January 1, 1973, enabling it to issue tax receipts to Canadian donors for income tax purposes.

The first Directors meeting of Canacoll was held December 15th, 1972, with Dr. Edward C. Becker elected as President of the Board, Dr. John Milton Campbell as Vice-President, and Dr. Evert Lindquist as Secretary-Treasurer. “Bug Doc” Ed Becker, Canacoll’s founder, served as President from 1972–2007. In recognition of his service to Canada through Canacoll, Ed received two awards from Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (1984, 1992) plus the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal (1978).

The first annual general meeting of the members of Canacoll was held October 26th, 1973, with 9 of a total of 15 members attending. Members each paid a $1.00 annual membership fee. At the time of the first annual meeting Canacoll had an operating budget of approximately $2,760, received mostly through donations. At the meeting members established a Grants Committee to receive and review applications for Canacoll grants based on established guidelines.

The first Canacoll grants were made in 1976—three grants for a total of $336 for three scientists from the USA to work on the CNC collections of sphecoid wasps (Hymenoptera), tortricoid moths (Lepidoptera), and tenebrionid beetles (Coleoptera). At that time Canacoll had built its Foundation to about $9,600 and had a total of 49 members. Since then Canacoll has continuously provided grants for out-of-pocket expenses to external specialists to visit the CNC to identify, curate and otherwise improve portions of the collection for research. As of the end of 2016, Canacoll has funded 493 research grants for a total of $495,201, which represents 925 person-weeks of curation of the CNC.

In 2014 Canacoll reincorporated under the Canada Not-for-profit-Corporations Act, with new By-laws as directed by that Act. Reorganization resulted in a Board of five directors, including an Executive, currently consisting of the following:
         Dr. Gary Gibson (Director and Board Chair)
         Dr. Frédéric Beaulieu (Director and Vice-Chair)
         Dr. Andrew Bennett (Director and Treasurer)
         Dr. John Huber (Director)
         Dr. Christian Schmidt (Director)
         Dr. Jeffrey Skevington (Secretary)

Further information about Canacoll may be obtained from the Board Chair.


Edward C. Becker—the founder of Canacoll 

The Canacoll Foundation founder, Dr. Edward C. Becker, or “Bug Doc” as he was often referred to, was President of Canacoll for 35 years. In 1984 he received a signed commemorative award from the honorable Eugene Whalen, Minister of Agriculture, “in recognition of the 10th anniversary of his outstanding effort in originating and fostering the Canacoll Foundation to promote taxonomic research on the Canadian National Collection of Insects”.

In 1992 the Director of the then "Centre for Land and Biological Resources Research of Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (now the Ottawa Research and Development Centre, which houses the CNC) awarded Ed a Merit Award Citation “in recognition of his pioneering promotion and leadership of Canacoll (1972–1992). With the idea of Canacoll, Ed Becker pioneered and promoted a unique partnership between the scientific community and government. Canacoll has become a model for the kind of fruitful collaborative ventures that are needed to support basic research amidst current constraints in science policy. Ed has devoted a substantial part of his life to this enterprise and his accomplishments are hereby greatly appreciated” (signed by Dr. Richard Asselin, Director).

In addition to receiving the above two AAFC awards in recognition of his partnering  Canacoll and the CNC, Ed was also a recognized leader in the entomological community of Canada and the USA. Among other awards and recognition were the following:
     Treasurer, Entomological Society of Canada (1961–1985)
Section A (systematics & morphology) representative, Entomological Society of America (1982–1984)
     President, Entomological Society of Canada (1987–1988)
     President, Coleopterist Society (1971–1972)
     Fellow, Entomological Society of Canada (1975)
     Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal (1978)
     Editor, Coleopterist’s Bulletin (1983–1990)
     Honorary Member, Entomological Society of Canada (1995)
     Honorary Member, Entomological Society of America (1997)
     Fellow, Entomological Society of Ontario (2003)
    
Unfortunately, Ed passed away on May 13th, 2008, at the age of 85. His obituary was written by Charles Enman and was published in the May 20th edition of the Ottawa Citizen. It reads as follows:

Ed Becker was often called the "Bug Doc," and seldom has a nickname more suited its bearer. Mr. Becker was an entomologist who pursued that fascination not only through a 28-year career with Agriculture Canada, but through an additional 28 years during which he would go in to the office, unpaid, in service of a gripping passion and calling. "My father had no hobbies," his daughter, Marcia Gosse, said. "Insects filled the whole space." When the family vacationed, collecting insects would be a background goal shared by all. Mr. Becker knew entomologists across North America. He attended every one of the last 49 annual meetings of the Entomological Society of Canada. His résumé ran to 12 single-spaced pages, nearly every entry detailing another of his achievements in his study of the insect world. His specialty was click beetles, known for the clicking they make, mostly to escape predators. "There are so many species of click beetle in the world -- and they're all so different, and there's so much we don't know," he once said. Much of his retirement was spent taking care of CanaColl, a not-for-profit organization he founded in 1972. CanaColl raised money to enable scientists from around the world to study Canada's national insect collection and for researchers to add new specimens to the collection. For his stewardship of CanaColl, Mr. Becker received several citations, including one from Agriculture Canada, praising this "fruitful partnership amidst current constraints in science policy." And it was fruitful indeed, considering that Mr. Becker accepted no pay for this labour of love. For the past 18 years, he put out a quarterly newsletter for retired entomologists and their spouses. Mr. Becker was raised on a family farm in southeast Missouri. He had completed three years of an agricultural studies program at the University of Missouri when he joined the U.S. marines. The war ended just as he was being shipped to Japan, but he was able to visit that country and saw the devastation the atom bomb had on Nagasaki. After the war, he continued his entomological studies, earning a PhD from the University of Illinois in 1952 with a thesis on a genus of click beetles. By good fortune, Agriculture Canada was looking for a taxonomist to work on click beetles at the Canadian National Collection of Insects and Arachnids. He and his wife soon moved to Ottawa. He once described the collection as "not the biggest, but the best research collection in North America." Mr. Becker was a devoted family man, married for nearly 60 years to Martha Mae Elliott. They raised five daughters in Ottawa. The family went on trips every year, "but they were definitely collecting trips," his daughter, Marcia, recalled. "I remember one year we went to Jamaica -- and he collected the beetles, and we got to collect the moths and the butterflies, which for us were much more appealing." Mr. Becker was a Scout leader and also deeply involved with his church, Rideau Park United, where he held numerous positions. Though serious about his work, Mr. Becker believed humans were put on Earth to enjoy life. He believed in having fun, and once, as a practical joke, considered putting a beetle in the church's collection plate. One of his common sayings was, "Life's no fun if it's just, 'yes, sir,' 'no, sir'." He received numerous rewards for his work, including, in 1978, the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal. Mr. Becker enjoyed good health until recently. In the last two months, he developed severe congestive heart failure. He died last Tuesday, at the age of 85, surrounded by family. He is survived by his wife and daughters Barbara, Marcia, Debra, Lynda and Patricia.