Editors Canada: Forty Years of Editorial Vigilance

by Michael Bedford

Published at 2019-05-15

Editors Canada’s website describes its mission statement thus, “Editors Canada promotes professional editing as a key in producing effective communication.” This admirably concise mandate describes well the Association’s ongoing efforts to promote the fine art of editing. This 1,300-member professional editorial membership group didn’t spring up overnight, though.


What started in 1979 as a loosely knit but fiercely dedicated group of 50 or so Toronto-area editors has evolved into a national organization comprised of six regional branches and six smaller branches, which members of Editors Canada refer to as “twigs.” These branches and twigs offer services such as seminars and webinars to members and non-members alike while also giving editors from all over Canada opportunities to connect with each other and prospective clients.



Humble Beginnings


Editors Canada has gone through a number of changes in 40 years, including more than one rebranding. In 1979 when the Association was getting on its feet, it was called the Freelance Editors’ Association of Canada (FEAC), and, as the name implies, at that time only freelance editors could qualify for membership. As the years wore on, though, the Association’s singular focus on freelancers broadened, and in 1994 the Freelance Editors’ Association of Canada changed its name to simply the Editors Association of Canada (EAC). As the name change implies, in-house editors were finally welcome.


The Association’s name and mandate weren’t the only things that changed in 15 years, though. The original 50-person membership worked fast, creating a logo, constitution, and professional directory all within the first year.


FEAC started as a Toronto-area association but by 1985 local groups had sprung up in Ottawa, Montreal, and British Columbia. These groups were run as offshoots of the Toronto group until 1991 when FEAC became a national organization comprised of four branches, Quebec-Atlantic Canada, the National Capitol Region, Toronto, and Western Canada.




Editing Canadian English

One of FEAC’s greatest contributions to the Canadian editorial scene was publishing the first edition of Editing Canadian English. Along with a few other publications, Editing Canadian English helped shape the Canadian editorial landscape when it was published in 1987. Subsequent editions of this helpful resource have been published in 2000 and 2015.


Professional Editorial Standards

In addition to forming the editorial core of the Association, the publication and adoption of Professional Editorial Standards in 1991, and its subsequent revisions provide information on the fundamental skills that Canadian English-language editors must possess to work in the industry.


Meeting Professional Editorial Standards

Accompanying Professional Editorial Standards and providing an excellent resource, especially to editors new to the job, the Association also offers a four-volume set of instructive material, entitled Meeting Professional Editorial Standards. With two editions published and available for PDF download, Canadian editors can ensure that editors entering the profession have an understanding of what is required of them.


Active Voice

The Association has also been promoting Canadian editorial standards through its national newsletter, Active Voice, since 1981. This annual publication keeps Editors Canada’s membership informed of membership concerns, such as where and when the next annual conference will be, and functions as a current editorial periodical that covers a variety of topics.


Forty Years Young


Annual conferences give Editors Canada’s membership an opportunity to come together and learn while also having a bit of fun. Each year’s conference covers a different theme. Last year’s theme of bringing communication-related professionals together gives this year’s 40th-anniversary-themed conference an exceptionally welcoming background to all communications professionals dedicated to meeting and exceeding professional editorial standards.


Members and non-members are similarly welcome at Editors Canada conferences, so there’s plenty of opportunity to connect with a variety of different editorially minded professionals.


Lots Going On


In addition to annual conferences and publications, Editors Canada offers a variety of awards honouring editorial professionals, and in 2017 launched the John Erkes-Merando Mentorship Program. Plus, members and non-members alike can take advantage of high-quality training through webinars and seminars, and prepare for professional certification through its certification program.


With so much to offer Canada’s editorial future, it’s important for the membership to take advantage of these types of programs. Editors Canada has come a long way in forty years, and because our industry is constantly evolving, there will undoubtedly be even more changes ahead.


To find out more about this year’s conference or to become a member of Editors Canada, visit EC’s website.




Michael Bedford is a freelance editor, copywriter, and performer living in Mount Hope, Ontario. He can be reached at  



Following the 2015 Editors Association of Canada’s International Conference here in Toronto, we wrote a few blogs that give you a sense of what you could expect at this year’s conference:

“Three Ways Editors Can Keep Current” and “Editors Go Global: Inspiration at the Keynote Address.”