History of the QSPP and commemoration of the centenary

By Gilles Émond, Ph.D., Agronomist President of the SPPQ Centennial Committee

On November 19, 2008 was held at the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec, the day on the Centennial Commemoration of the Quebec Society for the Protection of Plants. Founded on June 24, 1908 at Macdonald College, McGill University, it is the oldest scientific society dedicated to all the world’s plant protection disciplines and for over 100 years has been a leader in this field in Quebec.


June 24, 2008 marked the 100th anniversary of the Quebec Society for the Protection of Plants (QSPP), a Society born in what was then the main classroom of the biology building at McGill University’s MacDonald College. as the oldest Western Hemisphere society dedicated to plant protection and still active under its original name. Its main competitor for this honour is the American Phytopathological Society (APS), which was also founded in 1908, but only in December of that year, nearly six months after the QSPP. However, this Society only deals with plant diseases.

When the SPPQ published its annual reports, in French and English, very few organizations in Canada published useful information in French on crop management and management. For many years, the QSPP reports have been used as textbooks in agricultural schools and colleges because of the numerous illustrated articles on plant diseases, insect pests and other issues related to the protection of animals. plants. The high quality and usefulness of these reports was widely recognized. In fact, the first QSPP publications were promoters or forerunners of modern government-sponsored plant protection bulletins.

For a number of years after the Society’s printing plant burned in 1910, the publication of its annual reports was funded by the Government of Quebec. They were considered part of the annual report of the Department of Agriculture and “printed by order of the Legislature”. The seventh annual report, that of 1914, 1915, was called “Supplement to the Department of Agriculture”. The Québec government is still providing generous financial support to offset the cost of QSPP publications.

When Professor William Lochhead, the man who designed this bilingual science society, held the first meeting of his organization, only 15 men attended. These included: Reverend Dr. Robert Campbell, mycologist, and Mr. A.F. Winn from Montreal; Rev. George Ducharme of Rigaud; the Reverend Dr. Thomas Fyles, a well-known entomologist from Lévis; Dr. W. Grignon, Ste Adele and Reverend Brother Liguori of La Trappe.

Five years later, in 1913, she numbered 66, of whom eighteen were religious, including four Jesuits and five Trappists. There was also the famous Abbot Huard, the first Provincial Entomologist and founder of the scientific journal The Canadian Naturalist and also the famous Brother Marie-Victorin, founder of the Botanical Garden of Montreal and author of the Laurentian Flora. At the Board of Directors, of the seven directors, five were religious. Reading the articles published in the Annual Reports, we understand that these illustrious religious were scientists who have made a valuable contribution to the development of the QSPP. The Society already had members from outside Quebec, ten from Ontario, three from Nova Scotia, two from Saskatchewan, one from Manitoba, one from New Brunswick and one from Maine.

Professor Lochhead, founder of the QSPP, assumed the presidency for sixteen years. His first successor in this position was Reverend Father Leopold. Aside from being a recognized Trappist, he was a man of science, a great educator, and a lover of insects and flowers. The University of Montreal has recognized him Doctor of Agricultural Sciences.

Dr. Georges Maheu, QSPP’s first civilian and francophone president from 1930 to 1932, delivered a speech on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Society in 1948.Two brief excerpts: “It is clear that I find myself indeed, the only specimen of the fauna of former French-speaking presidents “; then remembering a meeting in 1916, he continued, “The French element was in a small minority and the deliberations were in the language of the majority”. It was around 1934 that the Society became predominantly French-speaking.

A new journal

Initially, QSPP published an annual report that presented the results of the research work of its members. This report was not considered by the majority of members as a relevant vehicle for the publication of the results of their research, largely because of the long delay in publication. As a result, they vigorously claimed for a different vehicle their research results that could be published more than once a year.

The directors of the Society reacted and decided to publish a scientific journal. An editorial board was formed, and a review, called Phytoprotection, was launched in June 1963. The first issue of this journal was labeled “Volume 44”, to indicate that it was a follow-up to annual reports. the last one was number 43.

Phytoprotection publishes, three times a year, in French or English, original scientific articles dealing with all aspects of plant protection including phytopathology, entomology, nematology, zoology, weed science, and related abiotic factors for to the well being of plants. The journal also includes a section of historical notes on plant protection and profiles of scientists who have contributed, or are currently contributing, to expanding knowledge in plant protection science. At first, the jouranl included a news section that could be of interest to its members. Phytoprotection is an international scientific journal, a journal whose articles are reported or summarized in the best bibliographic bulletins, so that the whole scientific world can take notice of what it publishes.

Accreditation of the Company

Although it was 76 years old, the QSPP was not legally incorporated into a Quebec entity. In the early days, incorporation was viewed as a useless legal subtlety, but with the increase in the frequency of prosecutions, even for very minor infractions or irregularities, it became desirable for the Corporation to have a more formal legal structure. Immediately after the 1984 Annual Meeting, Dr. Gilbert Banville, then President of the Society, asked the Board of Directors for authorization to make the necessary arrangements leading to the incorporation of the QSPP. Letters patent were obtained a few months later.

Women and QSPP

Although women were always welcome in the new Society, it was not until 1916 that they became members. That year, two young women, Margaret Newton, a native of Montreal, and Pearl C. Stanford, from Nova Scotia, at the instigation of Professor Lochhead, became the first 7 female members of the QSPP. Since then, many women have been active members and many of them have held administrative positions and have been much more active than the majority of men. It is unlikely that Lochhead ever imagined that the QSPP would still be very dynamic after 100 years, nor that a woman with a doctorate in science, Dr. Valérie Gravel, would be its president during the centennial year.

Creation of the Logo

Since many organizations have a particular symbol or logo that is part of their identity, the QSPP administration has decided that it should have a distinctive logo or symbol, which would be instantly associated with the QSPP while being simple enough to be recognized even by being very small. The resulting design was adopted by members at the annual meeting held in Hull in 1987.

The official logo symbolically represents a plant with a root at one end and two leaves at the other end. The body of the plant wraps itself in an open protective circle. The circle is open at the base to indicate that the Society is always open to new ideas and new members. The two leaves, of unequal size, represent the diversity of plant species as well as disciplines devoted to the protection of plants and also reflect the duality of the members of the Society. To show that it is a company whose head office is in Quebec, the logo has the overall appearance of the letter Q, for Quebec.

Since its founding, ninety-nine presidents have followed one another and the first twenty-eight annual meetings have been held at Macdonald College, McGill University. Subsequently, these annual meetings were held alternately in different cities of Quebec. Professor Lochhead, Founding President of the QSPP, was elected President at each of the first sixteen annual meetings. However, gradually, the presidency was occupied by different people.

Other publications of the QSPP

Apart from the journal Phytoprotection which is the only scientific journal in the world covering all the disciplines of plant protection where it is possible to publish in French and English, the QSPP has published two major publications, one containing the names of insects. and the other, bringing together the names of plant diseases. These books are references of primary importance to all scientists in the field of plant protection, teachers and people specializing in translation.

– Première édition en 1947 : 66 pages – Cinquième édition en 1985 : 299 pages.

– Première édition en 1961 : 169 pages – Quatrième édition en 2003 : 340 pages

A true bible of the nomenclature of plant diseases in Canada, this publication is for people who want to know the exact names of diseases, whether in English or in French. It is the result of the work of compiling dozens of phytopathologists over the years. It contains a multilingual index of more than 550 host plants.