Association Associations

Methodically plowing through an online list of Canadian business and trade associations, I’m amazed, as always, by the things that I’ve never heard of or thought of. In this case, the associations whose functioning and purpose provoke more questions than answers.

Screenshot of Industry Canada website landing page for Directory of Business and Trade Associations

Screenshot of Industry Canada Site

Bait Association of Canada

Is it just worms on hooks or does it stretch to tempting, if regrettably allergenic, dabs of peanut butter on spring-loaded contraptions? Does it advocate on behalf of bait producers, distributors, retailers, users, or consumers (whew), or all of the above? Does it pursue tricky political accommodation or obscure regulatory change? Does it bait members with imaginary threats to energize its fundraising? Is sushi on the menu for its annual dinner?

Central Ontario Tractor-Pullers Association

Why are Tractor-Puller Associations organized regionally? Are there so many tractor-pullers that they can’t be accommodated within one association? The mind boggles. Or is it that tractor-puller advocacy, education, and fellowship needs vary so significantly from one part of the province to another that they can’t, umm, pull together?

Ontario Coloured Bean Growers Association

Who decided to dispense with the disambiguating hyphen? And while we’re on ambiguous names, what about the Fishermen and Scientists Research Society? Who’s researching whom? Or what?

Sea Cadets Vindictive Corps

Is there a Forgiving Corps? Does this entry even belong in this database, sea cadets not being an association in the standard sense? And while we’re on misplaced entries, did they include ZAP — a pest-control franchise — merely to get an entry under “Z,” thereby completing the alphabetical roster?

“Industry Canada assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, currency or reliability of the content.” – Site footnote

Whether accurate, current, and reliable, or not, the list is, at least, egalitarian. I mean, where else would the Rotary Club of Washago & Area rub shoulders with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada? But now that I’ve lost confidence in the integrity of the data, I find other points that puzzle me.

I understand the mission of the Canadian Healthcare Anti-fraud Association (although it seems pretty specific, not to say overly focused: I mean, are there really a bunch of organizations working on this?), but what the heck are the members of FogQuest really up to?

I understand who the members of the Canadian Bookkeepers Association are, but what am I to conclude about the members of the Canadian Bison Association or, stranger still, the Canadian Electricity Association? Anyone could be excused for thinking that different people had named each of these associations, with no regard for naming conventions, as unlikely as that seems.

And, by now, you could be excused for wondering why I was looking at such a list.

A while back, a helpful marketer sent me a link to said list, completely confident that it would include organizations (whether associations, federations, chambers, councils, boards, coalitions, institutes, cooperatives, clubs, or societies) whose members would be interested in my technical manual on proposal development. And so I plowed through it, with a degree of care that decreased in direct proportion to how far along I was in the alphabetical listing.

Although I found no new markets, it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I did get some new questions. I did gain a new insight into marketeering. And I did coin a new phrase.

Endogenous confidence: A belief in one’s rightness that is “not attributable to any external or environmental factor.”

Or, indeed, based in reality in any way.

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12 Responses to Association Associations

  1. Sid says:


    I like the 1962 song “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind” or perhaps in other words, this is one for the ages.


    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Sid – There’s likely a Wind Association, too, but I bet it isn’t what Bob Dylan had in mind!

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Oh, good — a new label. I’m now an “endogenous rightist.”

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – It’s a tricky word. These days, most people would hear “indigenous,” I figure. Or maybe they’d think you were commenting on your body type . . .

  3. For a short time, J&I collected newsletters. The story on how we started that is for another time.
    One day John said, “I wonder if there is a newsletter about collecting newsletters?”
    This was a short time before we had access to the internet and before it came the go-to god for queries.
    …apparently no, after searching many pages of the 65,400,000 retrievals to my search for “newsletter about newsletter collecting” … but did find a newsletter about cone collecting: seashell cones. (My ex-husband collects these and has hundreds: he even travels to countries that have beaches with them on it. Takes all kinds, eh? But they are beautiful!)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Ah, yes, the meta question. It turns out there is an Association of Association Executives, and why not? As for cone seashells, I love to pick up beach bits, but (like Bill Bryson) draw the line at things that I know can sting me. Here’s a link to some photographs, and a heading that I think says it all: “Detailed cone venom information here.”

  4. Can you believe it? Someone was asking me yesterday about the tractor-pulling and plowing match competitions and why they bring their festivity to our area only occasionally. We have a Bison (or is it Buffalo) cattleperson in the vicinity where I notice the bison associating, although they must be naturalized Canadians because I read an article about their having been imported from the US, or perhaps from South Asia via the US. And bean-growers (of the nine-rows genre) are here, among whom I am likely the smallest of those beneath notice or association. Thanks to your prompting, we now know the tractor-pullers have an international association, which accounts for their annual week-long get-togethers with about 80,000 visitors being spread out over the countryside; and this year’s September event will be coming to Finch, Ontario, within hailing distance of your place, just in case you want to do further in-depth research.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – You’d think this was my home province of Alberta, it all sounds so rural! (But 80,000 visitors? I wonder how many of them would like to buy my book?) This really does show just how little I know about what’s going on around me.

  5. M.McQuillan says:

    And these official groups you found would just be the tip of the iceberg, as many ad-hoc groups of similar interests would exists as Facebook groups or casually via other social media.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      M – What!?! Unsanctioned, ad hoc groups of like-minded folks? Whatever will we see next? And (more importantly) why don’t they want my book? 🙂

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