Richard J. Finley MD FRCS FACS, Departments of Surgery, Vancouver General Hospital and University of British Columbia

Presented at CATS 2013 Meeting

Updated January 2019

History of Thoracic Surgery in Canada

  • Pioneers: Frederick Gordon Kergin, Edward William Archibald, and others
Edward William Archibald (1872 – 1945)
  • 1946 RCPSC surgery certification
  • 1962 RCPSC certification in Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery (General Surgery plus 3 yrs)
  • 1976 RCPSC Certificate of Competence in General Thoracic Surgery (General Surgery plus 2 yrs)
  • 1993 RCPSC primary specialty in General Thoracic Surgery (6 yrs) now terminated


General Thoracic Surgeons (1996)

  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • Canadian Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons
  • General Thoracic Surgery Club


Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Frederick Gordon Kergin
(1907 – 1974)
  • Prior to 1997, General Thoracic Surgeons met with cardiovascular surgeons as part of the Canadian Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons during the Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • The old format for the annual meeting was to be terminated in 2000, and thereafter the Royal College meeting focused on education.
  • Specialty societies would be responsible for the maintenance of professional competence.


Canadian Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons (CATCS)

  • Attendance at the annual meetings was deteriorating
  • Vascular surgeons were holding their own meetings separate from the Royal College.
  • Cardiac surgeons were becoming aligned with the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
  • The General Thoracic Surgeons felt that the Canadian Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons was not meeting its educational needs.


General Thoracic Surgery Club

Drs. Jean Deslauriers, Bob Ginsberg, and Thomas Todd dismayed by the lack of general thoracic papers at the STS and AATS helped develop the General Thoracic Surgical Club in 1988.

Only a board certified surgeon in the US and Royal College Fellowship surgeons in Canada whose practice consisted of at least 50% general thoracic surgery were eligible for membership.

The major objectives of the annual 2.5 day meeting were improvement in the quality of clinical surgery, establishment of a forum for basic and clinical research, development of standards for general thoracic surgery training.

The Club helped serve as a template for the formation of Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons / L’Association Canadienne de Chirurgie Thoracique (CATS/ACCT).

Attendees at the inaugural meeting of CATS / ACCT in Vancouver, BC on September 26, 1997


Beginnings of the Association

On September 26, 1997, surgeons interested in general thoracic surgery in Canada met as part of the 66th RCPSC Annual Meeting in Vancouver.

A symposium on “The Future of Thoracic Surgery in Canada” was held and chaired by Dr. David Mulder, with presentations by Drs. Tom Todd, Gail Darling, Helmet Unruh, and Richard Finley and breakout sessions chaired by Drs. Bill Nelems, Helmut Unruh, Richard Inculet, and Andre Duranceau.

Their goal was to develop a framework for a new organization to represent the professional and educational interests of general thoracic surgeons in Canada.

After a full discussion, there was a vote with 22 in favour and one opposed to the formation of CATS/ ACCT.


1997 – First CATS Executive

  • President – Dr. David Mulder
  • Secretary – Treasurer – Dr. Richard Finley
  • Chair of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Nucleus Committee – Dr. Tom Todd
  • Program Committee Chair – Dr. Tim Winton
  • Research Committee Chair – Dr. Gail Darling
  • Bylaws Committee – Dr. Helmut Unruh


CATS Founding Statement (1998)
The Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons represents thoracic surgeons in Canada. We provide subspecialty clinical care for patients with a wide range of pulmonary, esophageal, and mediastinal diseases. Our patients suffer from complex benign and malignant diseases, and our training is therefore very broad. WE education students and residents. Our success in postgraduate surgical education is well known. Canadian trained thoracic surgeons have a worldwide reputation for clinical excellence and many of our former trainees hold thoracic surgical leadership positions throughout the world. Th Association in actively involved in clinical and laboratory research. We are also involved in health care planning issues such as thoracic surgical manpower, standards of practice and delivery of thoracic surgical oncology services.

Dr. David Mulder, First President of CATS / ACCT

The CATS Beginning

The initial request of the Executive Committee was that potential member surgeons were to practice at least 50% thoracic surgery in Canada.

The Association planned to meet in September 1998 as part of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus in Montreal.

Dr. David Mulder initiated discussions about incorporation and transfer of assets from the Canadian Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons (CACTS).




Dr. F. Griffin Pearson

Pearson Lectureship

The F. Griffin Pearson Lectureship was established in 1998. It is given at the CATS annual meeting by the visiting professor. The full list of Pearson Lecturers is available here.





Resident Research Awards

Drs. Farid Shamji, Andre Duranceau, Jean Deslauriers, and F. Griffith Pearson during the 2004 CATS annual meeting in Ottawa.

The Robert Ginsberg Resident Research Award was established in 2003. It is given to the resident who delivers the best research presentation at the annual meeting.

The André Duranceau Resident Research Award (for Top Poster Presentation) was created in 2015 and named after Dr. Duranceau, when he presented the award at the CATS meeting in September 2016.

The full list of Resident Research Awardees is available along with the titles of the respective projects.


Bow River Thoracic Surgery Think Tank

This event preceded the 2006 9th annual meeting of CATS, held in Calgary, AB and included Drs. Michael Humer, Andrew Graham, Richard Finley, Ken Stuart, Michael Johnston, Sean Grondin, Griff Pearson, Sean McFadden, and Bill Nelems

Bow River Think Tank



CATS was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization on November 22, 2013.


CATS National Database Project (CATS DB)

On January 2, 2018, the funding agreement (amounting to ~$728k) between the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and the Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons was signed by Cindy Morton (CPAC CEO) and Drs. Sean Grondin (CATS President) and Andrew Seely (CATS Vice President and Project Lead). The title of the project was: Implementation of a national quality improvement and clinical trials network in thoracic surgery. 


CATS Database Objectives (2018)
  1. To standardize surgical oncology care
  2. To improve thoracic surgical care – the project undertook a national approach to identify best practices and reduce practice variation
  3. To bridge the gap between surgeon performance and knowledge by opening a collegial discussion of best practices among thoracic surgeons.



Inaugural CATS Database (DB) Meeting

CATS DB Inaugural National Database Meeting in Ottawa, May 7 – 8, 2018

The CATS DB project team and current leads at CATS DB sites and those sites interested in joining CATS met for an in-depth discussion of the project in Ottawa from May 7 – 8, 2018.