The foregoing title is taken from the turn of phrase I kept seeing in Solaris, the French-language SF revue, in place of the English phrase "The Sixties".
When I think of this decade, I don't think of disco, I think of just missing the important, earthshaking mundane events of my generation. But then, growing up in western Canada, I generally felt the important and earthshaking events left us out - even when they were contemporary, they happened elsewhere. This illusion may be common in the TV generation.
The same impression, though, of just missing every important event, also struck me about fannish fandom; in the case of fanzine fandom, there is some paper evidence to support this impression. Much of the references and almost all of the fanzines that formed my picture of fandom came from fanzine fandom in the 1970s, including Edmonton and Winnipeg fandom in this decade.
So, much of the documented history of Canadian fandom - or, at least, the majority of the written material that has reached me - covers the 1970s and early 1980s. Probably this is natural: the majority of contemporary Canadian fans are baby-boomers, who came into their twenties in the 1970s; and I have a theory that, just as the golden age of science fiction seems to be around 13, so the golden age of fandom, of fan activity, seems to be around 23.
Much too much of this history, at least up to 1975, summarizes or paraphrases Taral Wayne's fanhistory columns, which shows that Taral was doing most of the work on Canadian fanhistory at this time. Based on his coverage, and other materials, the centres of fannish activity in English Canada appear to have been Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver, represented by members of the Ontario SF Club, the Edmonton SF and Comic Art Society, and the B.C. SF Association, respectively.
Omnia mutantur et mutamur in illis
The focus of Canadian fanactivity remained in fanzine publishing, until the early or mid-1980s, if my materials are representative. Ben Yalow, a well-known actifan prominent in American Worldcon circles, has commented that the last Worldcon with an attendance below 2000 was held in 1971. Apparently the vast growth of Star Trek fandom did not really engulf a more fanzine-oriented fandom until the early 1970s; and in Canada, apparently, the Balkanization of fan activities into separate interest groups, and the shift in emphasis onto conventions, did not quite hit home until the 1980s. You may correct me if I am wrong.
The Wizards of Beechwood (Ottawa)
Michael McKenny writes that the "Wizards of Beechwood" group was founded in Ottawa on July 20, 1970. One of the early members were Michael McKenny, who later published Bardic Runes, a small fantasy digest in Ottawa.
The membership was inspired by Tolkien. The students who formed the group provided for seven "seats" on a Council of Wizards. In the numerous gatherings, parties, etc. that took place throughout the early and mid-seventies, the whole social circle of the official members participated, probably as many as two dozen people being involved.
All the official members and many in the wider circle were workers at the Beechwood Cemetery.
In 1974, Michael McKenny was provided with descriptions of each of five Wizards for his Wizard stories later to be published in Maplecade.
Several hundred high school students were once entertained by two members of this circle, one of whom is now a professional musician, singing, among other things, a song 120 lines long about Wizardly adventure on Gvihlih-hih.
Elizabeth Holden had a brief contact with at least one member of this circle. Michael McKenny had a seat on the Council (Grey, of course).
The club had other interests besides fantasy & SF, included were world federalism, chess and music. It petered out in the late 70s through the moves of many members.
(Michael McKenny, The Ottawa SF Statement #205, July 1994)
Elizabeth Holden has since appeared in Excalibur, the Ottawa SF Society, Ottawa Fandom Inc. and Maplecon. She was a founding member of the Lyngarde writers' group.
By the early 1970s, as Taral Wayne saw it, OSFiC was essentially a show dominated by Mike Glicksohn, Peter Gill and Gordon van Toen, and a number of new OSFiC members were sitting "in confused silence" at the back of club meetings. Taral writes:
"There was a great and enormous repository of experience available in the older fans, but somehow it never connected with us. OSFiC's first epoch of publishing had spent itself before I joined,... By 1970 the Ottawa chapter folded. Richard Labonté had already finished with Hugin & Munin with its 7th issue, but the death stroke was the departure of Susan Wood and Alicia Austin."
(Taral Wayne, "Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980" [unpublished, 1981])
The new Derelicts
The younger members of OSFiC formed the next generation of active SF fans in Toronto, known as the new Derelicts (not to be confused with the original Toronto Derelicts of the 1940s and early 1950s). I notice that Susan Wood called them the "Derogations", in the columns reprinted in The Best of Susan Wood. The new Derelicts, a "faanish" group, identified themselves with a specific moniker after a policy split with OSFiC in the early 1970s, over FanFair 3. Taral Wayne describes the new Derelicts as basically a group of friends brought into fandom by OSFiC, a subgroup of Toronto fandom, and the producers of a majority - although never all - of the fanzines that came out of Toronto for several years. As Taral puts it, OSFiC fanzine and convention activities passed into the hands of the younger generation after Torcon II (1973). They were later responsible for an efflorescence of mid-1970s fanzines, including Taral's Synapse and DNQ, for instance, Victoria Vayne's publications, and several incarnations of the OSiC clubzine. "Paralleling the day-to-day life of the Derelicts were at least 3 other groups at one time after FanFair 3 (1975)", Taral writes.
Chips & Coffee
Much of the face-to-face activity of faanish Toronto fans occurred not at OSFiC meetings, but at various eateries after the meetings, attended by the newer members of OSFiC, including Bob Webber, Jim Allan, Anne Sherlock, Jennifer Bankier, Barry Kent MacKay, Bob Wilson, and Phil Paine, prior to Torcon II. Taral brought a leatherette briefcase where he brought things like his art, essentially for show-and-tell. The Royal Ontario Museum's cafeteria was one early venue for Chips & Coffee. Newcomers after Torcon included Valerie Starr, Peter McGarvey, Janet Small (who later married Bob Wilson), Steve Muhlberger and Victoria Vayne. A later venue was Plato's Symposium, frequented by colorful characters from the University of Toronto campus.
In the year and a half since we all met, incipient Derelict fandom did little more than talk, walk, and eat, the latter sparingly since we tended to be dirt poor. Any old topic would do, all the more so if no one else was interested. Cosmology, paleontology, epistemology, philology, gerontology, Middle Eastern history, quantum mechanics, Impressionism, Sibelius, Tlingit Indians, and crumpets. One of the oldest established Toronto shticks is the infamous Lecture 214, first delivered by Phil in the Royal Ontario Museum's dinosaur hall. Random movement brought the entire OSFiC party to a halt by coincidence. By equal coincidence we had stopped before an exhibit of specimens credited to a certain Cope, or Marsh. It doesn't matter which. It so happened, though, that the infamous Cope & Marsh feuds in the 1880s were a seminal inspiration for Phil's interest in paleontology, and without anyone batting an eye he delivered a flawless oration in perfect lecture-hall style all about the Cope and Marsh expeditions of 1881. Although his propensity for lecturing had been previously known, it was this speech, arbitrarily numbered 214, that established it as Mythology.
But aside from talk, the year and a half had not been productive. I had distributed my cruddy fanfiction zine, procrastinated on my second until early 1974. Phil, after a promising start of mailing copies of Mechta 1 to universities as far afield as the University of Ulan Bator, bogged down in mid-production of his second. Jim Allan published his Glossary of the Eldarin Tongues, and belonged to CANADAPA long enough to pub 11 apazines. That was all. ... Increasingly, Coffee & Chips was growing in importance not only for the proto-Derelicts, but for other disenfranchised OSFiC members too. The severance between the older clique and the emerging new clique was beginning to affect the club badly.
(Taral Wayne, "Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980" [unpublished, 1981])
The B.C. SF Society (Vancouver)
The "B.C. SF Society" was really conceived in Jan. or Feb. 1970 as a dummy/front organization with a bank account off-campus, to which SFFEN members at the University of British Columbia paid their dues. The original signing officers were Maynard Hogg and Ed and Norma Beauregard. At the end of 1970 or so, this group ceased to be associated with the university club. Its original purpose, in Ed Beauregard's view, had been accomplished: Stage One, a fanzine, had been published in March 1970.
Early in January 1970 I produced Volume II, no. l of the UBC SFFEN Newsletter. Included in this issue was a list of members, a list which it is worth spending a few minutes going over. ...
The core group, the dedicated fans who almost lived in the club office, included such people as Daniel Say, Bob Bells, Mike Bailey, Stan Talarczyk, Ken Stairs, Brent Maclean, Maynard (Hogg), and Norma and I.
Dan Say was unquestionably the most energetic, the most vocal, and the most enthusiastic of our group. He seemed to have embraced the concept of fandom with almost religious fervour. His 'conversation' was essentially an ongoing monologue filled with humour, insult, sarcasm and just plain bullshit. His appearance today is unchanged from U.B.C. days, and among callow students he was certainly a sight to behold. His perpetual air of superiority offered no offense, since it was coupled with the most incredible behaviour, which could not fail to leave one laughing hysterically. I became one of his favourite targets, and the verbal jousting did much to sharpen my own skills.
Mike Bailey was nowhere near as active in the club as he later became. I recall him chiefly offering encouragement and excellent ideas in an offhand, almost apologetic manner. His was the voice of reason, and towards the end of the year it frequently made little impression.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
OromoctoCon (New Brunswick)
"... was held 13-14 June 1970 at the Seaway Motor Inn, Oromocto. The joint meeting was called OromoctoCon because it was held in Oromocto, NB [near Fredericton -GS]. Attendance was 30, of whom 10 drove up from the Boston area in a rented van. I was there as was Suford, Selina Lovett, Charlie Brown, Dena Benatan (her first time outside the Eastern Time Zone), and about 5 others.
"Activities included visiting the Beaverbrook Museum in Fredericton and watching a review of the Royal Canadian Dragoons at Base Gagetown.
"The local club settled on the name Base Gagetown SFS. Base Gagetown is (was) the main training base in eastern Canada.
"A few of the members contributed to APA:NESFA for a few years....
"The club died when John Mansfield was posted west. I don't believe current NB fandom has any connection with this group."
(Anthony_Lewis@bio-rad.com, 04 Jan 96)
FanFair 2 (Toronto, 1970)
Fan Fair 2 was held August 23rd and 24th 1970 at the King Edward Hotel, with two guests, Anne McCaffrey and Isaac Asimov. This Fan Fair drew over 400 people. Taral and Gary Farber both report that with Worldcon being held in Heidelberg this year, Fan Fair became the unofficial NASFiC (North American SF Convention) for 1970; it was even held the same weekend as Heicon.
Instead of planning another Fan Fair for 1971, OSFiC bid for the 1973 Worldcon, of which more later.
The Spaced Out Library (Toronto)
The Spaced Out Library (since renamed the Merril Collection) started out as a donation from Judith Merril of thousands of books and magazines to the Metro Toronto Library, which she gave them in 1970. Merril, an American SF writer and editor, moved to Toronto in the late 1960s and taught at Rochdale College. Originally the SOL was located in an old, brick Victorian house on Palmerston Avenue (near Capt'n George's Memory Lane store), next door to the Palmerston Library. Sometimes OSFiC met in the SOL, more often in the Palmerston Library.
After 1976 or 1977 the SOL moved to larger premises. Taral's perspective is that the Metro Toronto Library has been hostile to special collections, and not particularly supportive of the SOL:
According to their brochure, the SOL has over 18,000 items in its collection, including over 9,000 hardcovers and paperbacks, and over 6,000 magazines.
... Library politics are in the main responsible for the traditional loggerheads between the founder of the SOL and its librarian. At first, this was Madge Aalto, assisted by Angus Taylor. Madge was kicked upstairs and replaced by Doris Mehegan. Angus moved to Holland in 1975 (and to Vancouver in 1979), and David Aylward was hired in his place. So the efforts to disband the SOL have been very much like tag-team wrestling. The first attempt was made by the Library Board in 1977 at a public meeting. A huge attendance in support of the SOL defeated the Board's proposal to submit the collection to lending. Another attempt made a year later suffered the same fate. Facing the threat of constant hostility from the Board, in 1980 John Millard, John Robert Colombo, Bob Hadji, Anne Sherlock, Brad & Maureen Hawkins and others formed a pressure group modeled after the Friends of the Osbourne Collection and the Sherlockian collection. ...
(Taral Wayne, "Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980" [unpublished, 1981])
Madge Aalto has since moved to the West Coast, and is now head of the Vancouver Public Library. The Spaced Out Library, since renamed the Merril Collection, is now headed by Lorna Toolis, formerly of Edmonton fandom. The Friends of the Spaced Out Library (the support group now called the Friends of the Merril Collection) was joined in 1994 by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Foundation. The directors include some well-known names in Canadian fandom and prodom, such as the editors of Under the Ozone Hole in Victoria. The person to contact is Kathy Grimbly-Bethke of Toronto, a former member of OSFiC. They have a Web page.
Calgary Makes an Appearance
In the early 1970s, there was one SF club in Calgary, the Alberta SF Society. It published a fanzine, begun in 1971, edited by Randy Thomas. The fanzine was originally titled The Great Nor'Western News, but beginning with issue #5, it was called AltaEgo.
The ASFS held an Open House on Thursday, July 1, 1971. Not really a full-fledged con, it attracted about 75 fans. Guests were Forrest Ackerman, A.E. van Vogt, J.B. Clarke, and many others. A second Open House was mentioned for 1972-8-27, details unknown.
By the late 1970s, this Calgary group had mostly graduated, and gafiated at the same time. A new club formed from the remnant, including Bob Gibson (the 1950s fanartist), Gordon McNab, Eric Tilbrook, and Grant Thiessen (owner of Pandora's Books). Eric Tilbrook and Amin Bhatia produced the radio play "Cattlefarm Galactica", and it has been popular ever since (when it appears). Amin Bhatia's name now appears on the credits for Canadian-filmed TV series such as John Woo's Once a Thief.
Meanwhile, Back in B.C.
In March 197l, the first off-campus meeting of the B.C. SF Association was held to formally organize the club, and to promote a convention. A local TV personality, Chuck Davis, became a member.
The first Vancouver SF con was held on April 9-l0, 197l, in the Georgia Hotel, with Ursula LeGuin as GoH. 70 - l00 people attended this gala event, and June conreports claimed "we did OK", although Charles Brown's report in Locus was largely unfavourable. The con did not break even, but no profit was expected or intended, and the loss was split evenly.
The Elron Awards
A distinction of VCon (apart from introducing dances at cons, as Fran Skene maintains) is the invention of the Elron Awards. These are neither fan-voted, nor juried awards; they're totally undemocratic, and to this day I don't know whether someone arbitrarily bestows Elrons on hapless nominees, or whether someone accepts anyone's and everyone's suggestions. The theme is:
"If we honour the greatest,
should we not also recognize the least?"
(D. George, V-Con III)
The Elron Awards were first presented by Mike Bailey at the first VCon. These included:
1. Special Award For The Elron Hall Of Fame: Lin Carter.
2. Least Promising New Author: Robert Moore Williams.
3. Worst Melodramatic Presentation: Beneath The Planet Of The Apes.
4. Worst Novel: I Will Fear No Evil, by Robert A. Heinlein.
The Elrons have nothing to do with former SF writer.
Fanzine Fandom: Jiants in the Earth, and Mighty Fen of Old
Two of the most well-known SF fans from Canada, Mike Glicksohn and Susan Wood, married in Toronto in the early 1970s. Mike Glicksohn's fannish fanzine was Energumen, for which Susan Wood became co-editor. Regular contributors included Taylor, Rosemary Ullyot, and Derek Carter.
Bakka Books of Toronto is, apparently, the first and oldest SF bookstore in Canada, opened in 1972 by Charlie McKee and Ron van Leeuwen (his partner until 1975). McKee had wanted to open a mystery bookstore, but was advised by Merril to switch to SF. McKee ventured to open another branch, Bakka II, and even tried some self-publishing in 1975; on top of his catalogs, there were six or seven Bakka magazines between 1973 and 1977, but neither venture prospered.
In 1975 van Leeuwen opened a store himself, The Silver Snail, specializing in comics.
(Taral Wayne, "Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980" [unpublished, 1981])
Back in Vancouver
Another Vancouver con was held on Feb. l8-19, 1972, at the small Biltmore Hotel, with Philip K. Dick as GoH. About l00 people attended; the con featured films and costuming, and Philip K. Dick read an address later published in Bruce Gillespie's Australian fanzine SF Commentary (#31, Oct. 1972). This VCon held no Elron Awards, for some reason.
Most of the U.B.C. fen graduated or dropped out this year, and a lull followed. BCSFA foundered somewhat in the following academic year.
Fan publications, like SF fans, appeared almost as early in Canada as anywhere else; but apas took surprisingly longer to appear. For those unacquainted with apas, APA stands for Amateur Publication Association, which merely means a limited group of people who produce a limited number of pages on a regular basis, for a group publication; or APA stands for the publication, which a Central Mailer or Official Editor collates and sends out again to the membership. Before the rise of the Internet, APAs seemed to be a way to limit the fan publication expense undertaken by each of the members. They also seemed to be a way to focus discussion on one topic, taken as a theme for each APA.
The earliest Canadian APA on record is CANADAPA, founded by the OSFiC contributor Vaughn Fraser in June 1972, while he was studying graphic arts at York University in Toronto. Vaughn's aim was to provide a forum for Canadian fans. It brought together some of the Big Names in contemporary fandom, not only in Canadian fandom; but as Taral Wayne describes it, it appeared to bring in comics fans rather than fannish fans. (CANADAPA folded in winter 1984, under Official Editor Jo-Anne McBride.)
At some point in the 1970s Vaughn Fraser moved to Richmond, B.C. He later co-chaired V-Con 11.
Another apa appeared in 1975. Patrick Hayden had come to Toronto from Phoenix; he had formed AZAPA, an Arizona apa, and suggested founding another, ONTAPS. This didn't happen, but one Derelict and then another was persuaded to join one of Hayden's several apas. In fact, for a little while Derelicts ran CO-OP, just to see that they got all each other's mailings to other apas, but this lasted only six mailings. Taral notes that "secret apas" were part of the reason for this.
After Susan Wood moved to Vancouver, she observed a need for a feminist apa. Janet Wilson and Victoria Vayne eventually started A WOMEN'S APA; this was originally open to both men and women, so those uncomfortable with males present founded SUB-SET. Eventually males were voted out of A WOMEN'S APA and a co-educational feminist apa was founded, Mixed Company.
Patrick Hayden, the corrupting influence that led so many Toronto fen to sin, was not to be denied the honour of founding a Canadian apa, since his first child, the Arizona apa, grew querulous and uncomfortable in reaction to many of the hotheaded statements made by the Derelicts he had introduced. Consequently he, the Derelicts, and other friends founded OASIS. An invitational apa, its first mailing was out in August 1977. Its members, the hand-picked cream of many apas, got off to an encouraging start, with a thick first mailing stapled in two parts, but by the 5th mailing it too had grown querulous and uncomfortable, but not for Patrick. The bad vibes took their toll of a few members, who were dispensable, though. A particularly lax minac rule allowed members to "express continued interest" and get away, mailing after mailing, with no minac. The apa was handed on to a new OE, and it became irregular as well. There have been only 19 mailings in the three and a half years of its existence, speaking eloquently of the neglect of this hexaweekly apa. Its abuse has become rather a virtue lately. The discord died as the members mellowed, and it is presently a relaxed, easy place to stay in touch with friends, much as FAPA is the graveyard of an older generation of burned-out fans.
(Taral Wayne, "In Plain Brown Wrappers", Maple Leaf Rag & Opuntia)
BCSFA revived in 1973; former members suggested reviving activities, over the phone, but things didn't start to happen until all of 32 Vancouver fen met each other at that year's Bellingham (Washington) convention ... of whom the U.B.C. crowd knew just seven (including Fran Skene, columnist Michael Walsh, and TV personality Chuck Davis). Mike Bailey proceeded to get the con's mailing list from Pauline Palmer, the chair, and he contacted the Vancouver members.
Informal meetings were held on June 27 and August l0 at Pat Burrows' house, featuring news of Torcon II, books by Michael G. Coney, and a call for articles for Mike Bailey's zine. A newsletter was printed up on August 18. The first BCSFA Newsletter came out Sept. l5, produced by Mike Bailey.
The Torcon II Bid
Peter Gill and John Millard started the Toronto bid for the 1973 Worldcon. The competition was from Dallas (a bid led by Tom Reamy) and the Minneapolis in '73 bid, which was a serious bid back then. Taral notes that the Dallas bid was "so patently commercial that most fans preferred Minneapolis or Toronto. Then the Minneapolis bid collapsed ..."
Because of the impending Worldcon, the older members were more and more busy with Torcon business, and OSFiC was receding into the background for them. Mostly through inertia, OSFiC remaining their responsibility. The job was being done in a slipshod fashion. Meetings were mind-numbingly dull, poorly attended, and badly organized. The newsletter editor was missing deadlines and producing skimpy issues. ...
Things were so bad in the club just before Torcon that Jim Allan circulated a petition for an election. There was, after all, a provision in the constitution for an annual election, and it had been more than two years since the last. Torcon struck again: there was no time for newsletters, or elections. At (I think) the last meeting in the Bathurst St. church, a pro tem executive was appointed to take care of the club's functions until an election could be held.
Although I was at that meeting I missed the first critical few minutes, and I only discovered a month later that I had also been named, with Phil and Bob, to manage the interim newsletter. In fact, this may have been more after the fact than prearrangement. Whatever the truth was, Bob did most of the work on the August OSFiComm, and my involvement was limited to providing a spot illo.
"Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980"
Torcon II (Worldcon 31) was held Sept. 1-3, 1973 at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, with three Torcon 1 veterans, John Millard (the chair), Don Hutchinson, and GoH Robert Bloch. FanGoH was William Rotsler. Attendance is variously described as over 2000, or at 2900. Torcon II has since been described as "the last fannish Worldcon." Susan Wood received the "Best Fan Writer" Hugo Award; Energumen received the "Best Fanzine" Hugo.
A phrase such as "the last fannish Worldcon" calls for some explanation here. Fandom has gone through several changes, in population and in focus; fans have usually referred to First, Second, etc. up to Sixth or Seventh Fandom, relating usually to some "focal point" fanzines. But Harry Warner Jr., who himself wrote two of the main histories of fandom, pointed out that more meaningful terms would include "sercon" versus "fannish" fandom. Sercon fans, up to some point in the 1950s or 1960s, tended to be dead-serious about SF activities and had to make everything constructive. Fannish fans, or so I gathered, were those into the fun and imagination of science fiction - and, indeed, of fandom; people who could write about anything and make it amusing; people who had read enough SF, in so many wildly different story universes, they wouldn't take anything too seriously. Even reality. I tended to identify this with fanzine fandom, as I discovered it in fanzines of the late 1970s.
I make a point of all this because, while fandom not too coincidentally resembled a community of friends up to this time, and mostly "fannish" and fanzine friends at that ... after about 1972, fandom became something else.
Isaac Asimov had been at FanFair 1, [and] was given a Hugo for The Gods Themselves on his return; Bob Bloch was the Guest of Honour, 25 years after he was the guest at Torcon 1; and Bill Rotsler was on hand as the fan guest. 2700 people attended; it was the zenith of Ninth Fandom, and is remembered by many as the last faanish Worldcon, at which the last faanish zine won a Hugo.
Torcon was everything we were led to expect. It has been said to be the last fannish North American convention, and there is some truth to the saying. More than any other Worldcon, I can visualize the art show - I remember Grant Canfield's cookie sculptures, the coloured Terry Austins, the Gilliland platypus illos I derided while Alexis was, unknown to me, standing behind my back ... I remember especially the art I entered myself.
... Maybe the most absurd thing that happened at the con was Phil's libertarian conference in one of the seminar rooms. Purportedly to ratify a constitution he had drawn up for his "party", I think Phil mostly wanted to find fans he could relate to politically. He went about it in an odd fashion. Bob Wilson, who was Phil's protégé in those days, had some sort of official function, as did Mike Smith, who operated the tape recorder. Phil wanted me as Sergeant-of-Arms. Of all things to have for an anarchist meeting. ... My function seemed to be to prevent people from entering the room early, and of course there was someone who wanted in. Although he acquiesced, we somehow got onto the topic of judo wrestling and ended up giving a creditable performance there on the rug of the mezzanine of the Royal York. All in a day's work as Sergeant-of-Arms for a libertarian convocation, after all.
"Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980"
Taral's perspective is that Torcon II nearly killed Toronto fandom (like the Torcon held in 1948). Or, at least, the Old Guard that operated in Toronto up to that time. The con did bring in new blood, and OSFiC, as luck would have it, passed into the hands of newcomers.
OSFiC, Post-Torcon II
Understandably the faces in OSFiC changed somewhat after Torcon II. Barry Kent MacKay, a professional wildlife illustrator, began to come to meetings regularly in 1974. At the same time, he began producing fanart in vast quantities, until he had sent about a pound of fanart to contemporary fanzines. Taral profiled MacKay's art, along with the art of other Canadian fanartists, in a two-part article in New Canadian Fandom.
The increased contacts between the Derelicts and outside fandom resulted in travelling to conventions on a scale unimagined earlier. In 1974, it was a major project for OSFiC to organize (with a London, Ontario fan group) a charter bus to Washington for Discon 2. That trip was almost mythological in proportion, and seemed an important benchmark in club history. Two years later, however, parties of four or six Derelicts or other Toronto fans were taking cars to Midwestcon, Balticon, Boskon, Confusion, Octocon, Marcon, Disclave, Phlange and Philcon. For MAC [MidAmeriCon?], many Toronto fans flew. Victoria, Bob Webber, and I drove, taking a week to tour around Lake Superior and visit the bad lands of South Dakota before doubling back to Kansas City. Later trips to SunCon and for sight-seeing pure and simple, were as heroic. By 1977 there was a sizable community of convention fans outside of the Derelicts who were regularly attending most mid-west cons.
"Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980"
Diverse Fanzines in post-Torcon Toronto
A number of fanzines appeared in the wake of Torcon II, some longer-lived than others: Bob Webber's Pantekhnikon; Bob Wilson's Sootli; Stephen Black's Strange Distopias; the frequently-changing OSFiC newsletter, which Phil Paine revolutionized under the new title of Nor. The newsletter finally stabilized under the name OSFiC ...Eventually.
(Taral Wayne, "Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980" [unpublished, 1981])
After some former UBC SFFEN went to Torcon II, Pat Burrows remembers, several of them were overheard saying, "Gee, we ought to do something like that," but they weren't about to do anything very soon.
In October, 1973, Fran Skene and Al Betz attended a BCSFA meeting and were exposed to group stories and zany activities. The first large meeting that month was held at Chuck and Edna Davis' place, with 35 people; previously attendance averaged around 10 to 15. V-Con 3 was mooted at this point, but no definite plans were undertaken, not even a definite choice of name.
V-Con 3 became a reality when Michael Walsh just announced it, with full details, in his newspaper column. (Maybe that's what it takes sometimes ... ) Pat Burrows also remembers having a hand in getting it off the ground.
The U.B.C. SF Society
The current U.B.C. club, UBCSFS, was founded in 1973 or 1974 and almost immediately started publishing a fanzine, titled Horizons SF in 1980. The Society's membership rose as high as 150 in 1992 and 1993. With its 1992-93 revenues, and under editors like David New, Horizons SF became a small-press market for SF. In fact, David won an Aurora Award in 1992 for his editorship. The club immediately started accumulating books and trade fanzines.
The Draco Film Society and Draconis conventions (Toronto)
As Taral describes it, someone tried to start up a film club in 1974. The Draco Film Society in the west end of Toronto stemmed from this, with "multi-media" interests, a term which I always identify with mediafandom, though the leader of the group displayed and promoted eclectic interests. Dracon also had ties with the Dorsai Irregulars.
The membership of Draco tended towards teenagers; the leader of the group made a particular effort to recruit from high schools with "sci-fi day" exhibits. A financial crisis in the first year put Draco basically into hibernation, though it did produce a few newsletters in later times. But Pearse and her Draco/Dragonstar members participated in regional conventions, particularly in art shows. One of their members, Mike Harper, edited twelve issues of the OSFiC newsletter after Taral's FanFair resignation, and kept promising to do a bibliography of Michael Moorcock's works.
The mainspring of Draco was Elizabeth Pearse, an older woman born in Australia and living in Mississauga, west of the Metro Toronto city limits. She contacted OSFiC in mid-1974 to join in planning a convention for the following summer. Though she became friends with a number of the newer, more mature members, she tended to alienate the Plato's generation with a rather brassy personality. ... Elizabeth appeared in OSFiC for the first time, with booming voice and forceful ego, complete with credentials to counter queries about just whom she purported to be. A pretentious-looking horrorzine called Fright & Fantasy was held up for Elizabeth to point to and say "That's who I am." Somebody, possibly me, took a brief glance at the artwork and muttered "Peter Cushing?" ...
From the standpoint of someone like me or Phil, Elizabeth was a brash woman, a conventionite with sycophantic leanings, and the most prominent feature of a group of people who managed to lose the vast sum of $33,000 in two ill-fated conventions. ... The prime movers of the club have their niche in certain circles in our fandom; mostly in connection with conventions, and in particular, art shows. Draco is a part of that part of fandom in the Midwest that fraternizes with the Dorsai Irregulars, habitually votes [Phil] Foglio for Hugo awards, and thinks that SF fans and Trekkies are all fans together. ...
"Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980"
Derelict Fanzines in Toronto
It was Nor that started the ball rolling, but I think I can safely say that Synapse (1974-75) kept it in motion, and made a greater impression on the club.
For one issue I was both secretary pro tem and president of the club. Phil preferred I find a new title for the newsletter, setting what is an unrecognized tradition for OSFiC publications. The latest in the series of newsletters was Chronic 2, not OSFiComm 125 or Nor 85. The name I chose was Synapse, and for thirteen issues it developed from a newsletter to a clubzine and back to a newsletter.
It functioned in two ways for OSFiC. It was not only the focal point of the newer fans, encouraging their contributions and letters, but it also reasserted the club in fandom. Syn was getting reviews and art from American fans, and had a well-developed letter column, and was enjoying a little notice by fanzine reviewers. Although more intense, it was much like many other good monthly clubzines, like Chat (Chattanooga) or BCSFAzine (Vancouver) in the early 1980s. The average issue was about 15 pages, but the first Syns were 6 to 10. It was really only with the seventh issue that it became a clubzine instead of a newsletter, when Syn shot up to 24 pages. Syn 8 was a 39-page "history" issue, with three accounts of OSFiC's earlier days, my own history of OSFiC, plus a complete bibliography of club publications. The two issues after this were also large, 26 and 24 pages, but the treasury couldn't sustain the expense, so with the 11th ish Syn returned to newsletter size. Although number 13 was the last published for the club, several more appeared at sporadic intervals and for various reasons. ...
I made a lot of mistakes with Syn; offended some people; said stupid things; and had a hell of a lot of fun, as did the rest of OSFiC. (Even the one poor soul who wrote in wondering why I couldn't print a joke every issue.) One important thing about Syn, OSFiC ... Eventually, and the other one-shots to follow: not only were they a channel for our energy, but they also put us in touch with fandom outside the city, in a way we had never been before in all the two years we had been knocking around in the club.
"Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980"
Fannishness in Toronto
The Brethren of the Moon were an Illuminati-type hoax cult invented by Mike Smith (or ought to have been) at a time when people would have thought Wilson and Shea were a comedy team. (Come to think of it, maybe they are ...) It consisted of pretty straightforward crackpottery and twisted logic that was opposed to Moon Landings for religious reasons. The flyer was written mostly by Mike Smith, but included a preposterous "proof" using the Pythagorean theorem diagram matched against the lunar maria that I drew. ...
Gini Lockett was a young girl with blonde hair and an established fantasy zine when she hit Toronto fandom. Her only drawback was that she was not real. Gini was a failed hoax played on Victoria when she showed a bit of a jealous streak. It was a brilliant idea, since I thought of it, and should have worked except for my readily identifiable typos ...
I should briefly mention a few others that stand out. There was the fake BNF, George L. Clarke, who "attended" one of Henry Argasinski's one-day disasters [cons], and whenever someone saw Henry he was told "George L. Clarke was looking for you. He's in the films now." Or in the program room, or wherever Henry wasn't. Eventually "Clarke" gave up and went to Glicksohn's, leaving Henry to stew over the forged signature in the visitor's book. There was a phoney article submitted to McGarvey for a one-shot he'd planned when he bought Victoria's 120, but since he never pubbed the one-shot, as a hoax the article was a flop. More successful, a foray into Victoria's apartment to spike her humidifier with Hai Karate had the room reeking with perfume when she arrived home again from work. Unfortunately, she correctly guessed the source of the contagion and refilled the reservoir with uncontaminated water. But probably the best hoax of all backfired completely on the hoaxers ... At some point unknown to me, several conspirators, including Bob, Janet, Victoria, Mike Smith, and Peter McGarvey, decided to publish a spoof of Synapse. Titled Relapse, the parody had a field day with my various publishing idiosyncrasies, especially my Kjola-ish references. No doubt the conspirators chortled with evil glee as two copies were dropped into the mail, intended for me, but what they didn't know was that the day after the deed was done, I would be submitted to the hospital for severe renal colic. Relapse didn't seem very funny with me in the hospital, so a panicky phone call to my mother followed, asking her not to deliver anything looking suspicious to me in the hospital. My mother was well trained, however, and obediently brought me the offending vehicle. So I had the last laugh while my friends sat awake nights worrying about the effect on my health their joke would have. I also laughed at Relapse. It was funny. Looking back on it, 1974 and early 1975 was more a year of failed hoaxes ... but it wasn't for the lack of trying, or fannishness.
Another manifestation of fannish activity in Toronto that year was the start of a Mythopoeic Society Chapter, Esgaroth. This was Jim [Allan]'s pet. He had always said he was more interested in fantasy that SF, and was observed by all of us to have an irredeemably sercon attitude when he wasn't giggling at comic books ... The first meeting reflected Jim's designs, and were held in a student co-op building with a notorious reputation. The early turnout was not large, nor did it have such overlap with Toronto fandom. Ernie Fusco, one of the founders of the chapter, hardly turned up after a short while, and is distinguishable from mundania now only through a pretentious and obscure semi-prozine called Stardust that can be found in dusty corners at Bakka, but nowhere else. One other attendee of the old Mythopoeic meetings was Dorothy Tate, who stayed on and became the principal attraction for later meetings. At first, meetings were Tolkien or closely connected with Tolkien, and of OSFiC, only Jim and Peter van Bork were members. I began dropping in on meetings shortly before their tenure at the co-op ended and found them dull but addictive. Following the shut-down of the co-op for various political and hygienic reasons, the meetings moved to Dorothy's house, and when the weather warmed up for summer 1974, were often held outdoors.
"Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980"
SF in Quebec Emerges (SFQ)
Some things are different in Quebec, and not only because most of what goes on happens in another language. There were sporadic SF clubs and fanzines in the province as early as anywhere else. But the first continuing, ongoing fandom in Quebec, which started in the mid-1970s, was not precisely like fandom as we know it; it was a milieu of writers and editors and small-press publishers, many of them with an academic background. You could say that it was a sercon milieu in the 1970s and 1980s, at a period when anglophone fandom was fannish, but giving way to a media-oriented fandom. SF in French, or at least fantastic literature, was rarely written or published in Québec until the 1960s. As described in Out of this World (a collection of critical essays), the stories that did appear, from 1839 on, tended mostly to be fantastic or utopian novels with political or even religious themes.
According to Daniel Sernine, the science fiction genre really appeared in Quebec in the 1960s. Even then, there were just a couple of book series from the publisher Editions Lidec - the Unipex series, edited by Maurice Gagnon, and the Volpek series, edited by Yves Thériault - which published most of the SFQ novels of the decade, and which did not specialize in SF. There were also four juvenile SF novels by Suzanne Martel, published between 1963 and 1985. The fact that SF could take up to five years to be translated into French, and a French paperback in Quebec could cost three times as much as an English one, may have had a bearing on the emergence of SF et fantastique québécois. (This is, at least, what Eugene Heller told me in 1990, in a telephone conversation from Montreal.)
Torcon II - the 1973 Worldcon in Toronto - drew several SF fans from Quebec, notably Norbert Spehner, and helped inspire them to found Requiem, a French-language SF revue, in 1975. New writers featured in Requiem (later retitled Solaris) included Jean-Pierre April, René Beaulieu, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Daniel Sernine and Denis Côté. Novelists who appeared in the 1970s included Esther Rochon, Louis Philippe Hébert and Alain Bergeron. In 1977 Requiem launched Le Prix Dagon for French-language genre fiction; the first winner was Quebec author Daniel Sernine. These were the first visible signs of the new circle of francophone SF and fantasy fans in Quebec, who were prepared to write and publish their own fiction, rather than wait five years for translated SF. Solaris became a continuing small-press French-language fiction market, a critical forum, and occasionally a place to find publishing news.
"Ten Years of Québec Fandom with Requiem and Solaris",
New Canadian Fandom #7, 1985)
More SF magazines began to appear in Quebec in the later 70s. One that kept on publishing for years was imagine ..., founded in 1979 at the Edouard Montpetit CEGEP (college). Jean-Marc Gouanvic, who was fiction editor of imagine ..., claims that the SF subculture in Quebec initially organized itself around imagine ... Authors who first appeared in this magazine included Jean Pettigrew and Agnès Guitard. 1979 was also the year of the first Boréal, the francophone writer's convention. imagine ... ceased publication in 1999.
Pomerleau's account, and other evidence, indicates that Québec fandom started fairly late, and was more pro-oriented than contemporary anglophone fandom, until fairly recently. Writing about his NCF article after 1985, Luc Pomerleau commented:
I felt that it was more than enough to give an idea of the flow of events during those ten years [1974-1984] without forcing the reader to swallow too many names and titles. Perhaps some retrospectives centred on the creators are in order, now that anglophone fans have the general idea of how we developed. ... Since it was written more than a year ago, certain events are not mentioned. For example, the appearance of two new zines: Carfax, mainly devoted to the Weird-Tales type of fiction, and Pandore, which covers SF and fantasy too. ...
(Maple Leaf Rag #16, July 1985)
VCon 3/ 1974 Elrons
V-Con 3 was held at the Georgia Hotel, on Feb. 22 - 24, 1974, with Frank Herbert as GoH. 400 people paid $5 each to attend; interestingly, many people attended this con because they knew of Herbert from his mainstream writing. This con made money for a change (about $500). John Thomson first showed his slides at this con (which became a continuing feature).
Elron Awards were presented by David George this year:
Pat Burrows indicates that as early as 1974, V-Con was meant as an all-purpose regional convention, and a common meeting ground for fans (and so, to a lesser extent, was BCSFA); but this intent was either not conveyed, or was forgotten in later years.
(My own view, after attending VCons from 1984 to the present, is that VCon was indeed an all-purpose convention – it tried to cater to writers, readers, mediafen, filkers, costumers, dance and party fen, anime and gamers, artists and even dealers … but a lot of these people just didn’t mix, and sometimes the committee ended up paying less attention to some areas than they required. Just my opinion.)
The Famous Susan Wood
Susan Wood (famous for Amor de Cosmos) first made contact with BCSFA at V-Con 3. She and Eli Cohen moved to Vancouver in 1976, after Susan was offered a teaching position in U.B.C.'s English Department.
I have somewhat conflicting information on how much contact Susan Wood had with fandom in the early 1970s. Taral Wayne writes:
Susan Wood spent a couple of years in Regina, where the only other fan for a while was Leland Sapiro, an American publishing a "Canadian" sercon zine called Riverside Quarterly. She was shortly joined by Eli Cohen from New York, after which they both moved to Vancouver. Her personalzine, Amor, was rather private and hard to get, not much like Glicksohn's more genzinish Xenium. It was also short and infrequent, as most of her time went into articles for other zines, and her academic work. Before her death, she had accrued a fabulous reputation, both for her sercon and faanish work. Sapiro moved back to Florida before Sue and Eli left for the West Coast, and they were not friends. In Vancouver, having had her fill of OSFiC, Susan stayed rather aloof from the local fandom, preferring instead friends in Seattle who were feminists and pros as well as fans. Her interest in feminism rivalled her longstanding love of Canadian literature, prompting her to inspire A Woman's APA, and at the time of her death in 1980, Susan was an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.
"Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980"
V-Con 3: Differences of Opinion
Ed Beauregard indicates that there were administrative problems before V-Con 3; for example, arguments over picking up mail, handling of funds, financial procedure at and after the con.
Not much information is forthcoming about disagreements between David George and Mike Bailey. The concom of V-Con 3 included David George and Mike Bailey as co-chairs (with Bailey doubling as treasurer), and Allen Dickson as publicity. George and Bailey began to have clashes about policy and procedure after V-Con.
As Bailey puts it, he was the one remaining signing officer to the BCSFA account, and "inputted" the funds to the con. David George somehow felt Bailey was "extorting" money from the club. Bailey claims that George also wanted to be president, and arbitrarily proclaimed that he was.
At any rate, for at least the rest of February, both men were putting out their own BCSFA newsletters, in addition to the official one. As it worked out, David had V-Con's mailing list, Mike had the money, and neither would give the other anything. At Mike's invitation, Ed Beauregard managed to talk them into handing over the records and receipts to him. The two made an agreement to conceal many of their arguments.
It seemed no longer to be possible to run BCSFA loosely, with no executive and only an informal newsletter. A committee was set up to write a formal constitution, chaired by Ed & Norma Beauregard and including David George, Mike Bailey, Gary Walker, Fran Skene, John Thomson, et al. Their document was filled with checks and balances, including a "censorship" provision. This was probably accepted in early 1974 at the Walsh's home, followed by the first regular BCSFA elections. (Among other history in BCSFAzine #100, Mike Bailey comments that he had copyrighted the name "V-Con" and, although he sold it to BCSFA, they never re-registered it. You might conclude that Mr. Bailey was concerned with details that other fans didn’t know about, or simply ignored. In any case, I established in the early 2000s that “VCon” – as a trade mark, not a copyright – is, in fact, registered; it is one of the only convention names registered as a trade mark, another one being “Worldcon”.)
One-Shot Toronto Zines ca. 1975
Not everyone was content to contribute to Syn or write letters. Several wanted to begin zines of their own.
The second OSFiC one-shot narrowly missed being the first feminist fanzine, but another Canadian, Amanda Bankier in Hamilton, beat Distaff to print by a month. Credit for Distaff can be given to Janet (Small) Wilson, but it was meant as a group effort that included Victoria Vayne, Celeste Erendrea, Valerie Starr, and other women in the club. Like OE before it, Distaff was the cause of a printing party and a great deal of preparatory interest.
Victoria had contributed heavily to Distaff and wanted to try a zine herself. Plans were discussed around the table at the New York Pizza Parlor (which served as Plato's for after-OSFiC meetings), leading to The Vati-Con III Program Book. VC3PB was not only a spoof program book for a religious con, but anticipated FanFair III in title. This theme one-shot included a program, a crank flyer, and articles on religion in SF. Of the four one-shots, Victoria's was the most elaborate of the three, and longer than OSFiC ... Eventually by a page. As usual, only about a hundred copies were printed for the editor's use, and another hundred distributed through OSFiC. Since Victoria later renumbered VC3PB "Simulacrum 1", it makes it something of a collector's item. In actuality, Victoria had good reason to do this. Most of the ponderous graphic sense of Sim could be found in fledgling form in her one-shot, and also her interest in the art of mimeography.
The fourth and last OSFiC one-shot was an encore by Janet Wilson. Wishing this time to do an issue on her own (instead of by committee), Distaff II was a departure from the tendency of the past for all of us to be heavily involved in each other's zines. As such, it was also a trend. It was out just in time to be distributed at FanFair III, but apart from club copies, few were ever circulated.
While Synapse was still the focal point of Toronto fandom, and the great Discon trip was still a fresh memory, we had not yet held a convention of our own. It was Phil's idea first, and he expected to be chairman of FanFair III, but as he confused dates and didn't appear at the first committee meeting, he wasn't elected to the position. Instead, I was. I had gone only to report the meeting in the newsletter, but was elected as chairman in lieu of Phil. The committee that appointed itself included myself, Peter McGarvey, Valerie Starr as treasurer, Michael Smith on registration, Elizabeth Pearse in charge of artshow, Phil on program, and some others in lesser capacities.
The date for the con was set as August 1st to 3rd, 1975, and we would use the King Edward Hotel, as FanFair II had before us. After two or three tries for preferable guests we accepted Peter Gill's offer to use his connections for us, and we ended up with Lester Del Rey. We were luckier with our choice of fan guest; Cy Chauvin agreed to come, and everything seemed all set. But trouble was just around the corner.
OSFiC had been attracting people steadily since Torcon, but most of those were joining were a little further along in their years. At least in attitude. When faced with responsibilities, they felt more at ease with each other than with the more Bohemian Derelicts. My weak leadership aggravated this tendency, so that soon most of the stronger personalities on the committee clashed. The concom took a sharp turn to respectability when Phil resigned (under pressure) from his position in charge of program, and it was pressed on Peter McGarvey.
Peter had just been elected president of OSFiC and let the largely honorary role go to his head. He began to "supervise" the newsletter, getting on my nerves and causing one or two altercations. In agreement with Elizabeth's eclectic tastes, he had her support, and Valerie's support because he seemed to possess the leadership she admired. This resulted in chaos as Peter, Valerie and me all attempted to fill the role as chairman. Whether or not Valerie was justly alarmed by my unbusinesslike way or trying to run a convention is arguable - it was the first con for all of us - but her gullibility and Peter's ambitions certainly played their part.
The con itself was flawed in many ways. The program was very weak, the Saturday and Sunday night con suite parties were held only by my last minute decision, vandals were tripping the fire alarms, the registration records were lost, and the night manager hounded us with threats to evict the con. Yet there were 600 people at FanFair, and the high rates (for the time) resulted in the con's making $3,200 profit. Most people seemed to have enjoyed themselves, but from the inside it looked worse than it was. Only the fuse needed lighting to cause an explosion.
The role of the fuse was played by a symbolic gesture on the part of the concom to bill Phil Paine for the use of the bedroom in the con suite. He had fallen asleep overnight and the committee felt he owed them money. A bill was drawn up and sent; I washed my hands of the affair and printed the bill, Phil's outraged response, and my own indignation in the next issue of Synapse. The meeting that followed was an operatic comedy, with Phil's theatrical directions failing abysmally, and Peter Gill using his bureaucratic skills to quash the rebellion. In the end, few understood what the ruckus was about. The Derelicts were much discredited. A more mature group of members had the club for the wanting. But it didn't work that way either.
OSFiC after FanFair 3 was left in the hands of a mundanish strain of fans. Theoretically. Actually, OSFiC was run by token neutrals in a caretaker executive. ... The Derelicts had some participation in the club at the same time. But as a composite entity - a neutral meeting place for all factions - OSFiC was not viable. After two years it was nearly dead, and needed intervention. The Derelicts were effectively dead too.
The Draco Film Society (continued)
The Draco Film Society has been visible in this history in a few odd places, such as the bio on Elizabeth Pearse. There is little more in this narrative that needs to be said of them. For the first year or so they traded their clubzine with OSFiC, but stopped after 14 issues for undisclosed reasons ... probably financial. Shortly after birth, Draco graduated to being a full Science Fiction, Star Trek, Fantasy & Film club, and had a sizeable membership partly overlapping with OSFiC. The aristocracy of the club included the entire Pearse family, Elizabeth, Lauren, and Richard, Debra Laasko, Phil Stevens, who was an assistant model builder for The Starlost, Greg (Zilch) Hagglund, known as Bob Asprin's understudy, and later, Peter McGarvey.
OSFiC never had an official grudge against Draco, but in the increasingly polarized atmosphere of OSFiC, beginning early in 1975, the Derelict faction found Draco distasteful and didn't socialize with them. There is no doubt the distaste was mutual, and founded in varying degrees of fact or fancy among the members of the separate cliques.
Draco's first big project, not counting their participation in one of Henry's Chicons, was taking part in Toronto's first Star Trek convention. Optimism flowed freely, as glib words from a confidence man. In the end, however, my estimates of 1,000 were closer to the actual attendance of 1,500 than their hopes for 3,000. Part of the financial disaster suffered by Toronto Star Trek Con '76 was due to rampant ticket frauds, but simple calculations based on entrance fees and attendance show that of the total $27,000 lost, only $10,000 can be excused away by factors beyond the committee's control. The next year Draco tried again, with a con all of their own. While TST gave the congoer value for his money, Alpha Draconis cannot be said to have done even that. But, on the bright side, only $6,000 was lost this time.
Elizabeth, not directly at fault in either disaster, must be admired for personally undertaking the debts incurred by Draco. Aside from various people acting in their own capacity, Draco has never materially affected the mainstream of Toronto fandom.
A passing mention should be made to a series of small one-day comics conventions that were held in Toronto during the early part of 1975. There were only three or four, were not as successful as their larger predecessor, Cosmicon, and were terminated after losing money consistently. OSFiC took a small part in the program, a few members sitting in panels and such, but the death of FanCon was unmourned.
"Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980"
It was about this time that, for protection from financial liability, BCSFAns tried to register the club with the provincial government under the B.C. Societies Act. Unfortunately, it appeared that any society labelled "British Columbia" anything had to represent, or advertise to, at least 70% of the warm bodies in B.C. who had anything to do with the society’s field. Similar red tape – a matter of the B.C. Society Act, and of non-profit incorporation – prevents a club using a name incorporating "Vancouver."
So, in 1975, the "Western Canadian SF Convention Committee Association" was set up, mainly to limit the BCSFA executives' personal liability for convention finances. WCSFCCA was charged to license the V-Con name to convention committees that satisfied the WCSFCCA executives' criteria, and to carry funds forward from one year to the next. The name ("Western Canadian" etc.) annoyed some Edmonton and Winnipeg fans at first, until the background was explained.
Donna McMahon adds: "WCSFCCA was in the forming for years. It was first called just 'SF Convention Committee Association', but wasn't able to register under that name. WCSFCCA officially came into existence 11 May 1981."
We’re Not Involved
Many years later, Al Betz explained to me that by the late 70's, when the current WCSFCCA constitution and bylaws were finally passed, an idea was going around that the WCSFCCA organizers were trying to take over V-Cons; so, in fact, they went to some effort to avoid the appearance of imposing control on V-Cons.
Official SF Week in Calgary (1975)
In January 1975, the University of Calgary held an official SF week (featuring Leonard Nimoy, Harlan Ellison, A.E. van Vogt, and a NASA display), which attracted 3000 people.
Michael Hall adds: "Taral [Wayne, in Toronto] has a couple of fanzines from the 'Alberta SF Society' of the early 70's. The only earlier stuff than that is a reference to a number of Edmonton & Calgary fans in the list done by Chester Cuthbert in the 50's for the C.S.F.A. ... I couldn't track any of them, so I gave up."
Marianne Neilsen of Edmonton wrote to me that in 1973, Calgary had a club called Alberta Scientifriction; at the few meetings she attended, she met fans of UFOs, time travel, antigravity devices ... she got the clear impression that their elevators didn't quite go all the way to the top floor.
V-Con 4 was held Feb. 21 - 23 in 1975 at the Sheraton Landmark Hotel, in downtown Vancouver, with Robert Silverberg as GoH and Mike Bailey as chair. (Silverberg chose this time to announce the end of his writing career; the concom got all upset, well a little bit, and felt they had to reschedule the announcement to the end of the con. You can see how much Silverberg has since given up writing.) 600 people attended; Vaughn Bodé is said to have made a brief appearance. The concom spent an average of $6 per attendee.
Ed Beauregard, who got a reputation later as a financial wizard, says this was the first con he worked at. He says:
The outstanding characteristic of this committee was how inappropriately chosen the committee members were. The treasurer could barely count, the publications person was illiterate, and I was in charge of programming, though I had never attended a single convention and had little interest in the job. We somehow muddled through, and actually made a pretty decent profit.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
This convention’s profit came to $700, out of which BCSFA subsequently bought a Gestetner machine.
The Elron awards were presented by Brent McLean this year:
1. Least Promising New Author: Jerry Pournelle.
2. Most Appalling Dramatization: CBS series, Planet of the Apes.
3. Elron Hall Of Shame: John Norman, for his new genre, "bondage sword and sorcery."
4. Worst Novel Of 1974: Population Doomsday, by Don Pendleton.
The Further Adventures of Susan Wood
Susan Wood was a Well-Known Fan by 1975, when she had won a Best Fanwriter Hugo (1974) and was FanGoH at Aussiecon I. In all she was nominated for the fan Hugo 10 times: won the fanzine Hugo for Energumen with Mike Glicksohn in 1973; won the Best Fanwriter Hugo in 1974, and again in 1977.
After 1975, her fanwriting and fanactivity were reduced, as she was working on a thesis on English-Canadian and French-Canadian agrarian novels, her teaching work load and, well, a tangled bureaucracy. Her writing was mostly book reviews in Algol (an SF magazine since survived by SF Chronicle), a fanzine review column in Amazing (in which Robert Runté discovered fandom) and The Pacific Northwest Review of Books (founded by John Berry and Loren MacGregor). Most of her fannish energy went to A Women's Apa, which was founded upon a suggestion of hers, and she became greatly involved in the feminist movement. She also founded "A Room of Our Own", a series of informal feminist programs at many Northwest and World SF conventions. Her personal contacts were maintained by congoing and through her personalzine, Amor; and more and more, her sercon material drew her toward professional SF.
The Bid for Westercon XXX
Some time after the Second World War, Los Angeles fans founded a travelling Western regional convention, Westercon, to bring a taste of fandom to places in western North America that had no SF conventions. Until 1977, in fact, there appear to have been only two conventions in the Pacific Northwest, V-Con and something called the Puget Sound Star Trek Conventions. Westercon is intended to alternate between fan communities north and south of an arbitrary line of latitude, in western North America. Westercon was first hosted by Vancouver fans in 1977 (Westercon XXX).
At BCSFA's October 1975 general meeting, there were presentations both for V-Con 5 and for the Westercon XXX bid. David George, of course, wanted to chair the next convention, V-Con 5. He had been a moving force in the Westercon 77 bid, and V-Con 5 was supposed to be a dry run for the Westercon. We had won the bid in the previous July ... and the V-Con 5 and Westercon committees were almost the same people. Because of David George's concern about financial liability, the convention was registered as the Wreck Beach Science Fiction Convention Committee Association (or such).
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
The SF Association of Victoria, founded in 1975, shared about 50 members with two other clubs by the end of the 1970s. (There were a lot of dual memberships.) The University of Victoria SF group was essentially a daughter group to SFAV, and the other club in town at that time was a small Star Trek club, grandiosely called the “United Federation of Canadian Star Trekkers”.
More Fanpublishing in Toronto
Grant Schuyler began with apazines, as did Karen Pearlston, and Jennifer Bankier. Jennifer was the only one of the three to go on to publishing a genzine though, and broke all Canadian records with a 105 page Orca 2. (The runners-up were CanFan 15th Annish, Energumen 14 and 15.) Orca 3 may yet appear some day, if ever Jennifer has time again.
Victoria began Simulacrum at about the same time that Janet began work on Distaff 2, following only months' after Vati-Con III Program Book. It too departed from the previous practice of group effort (leading to a diversity of zines), and received help only from me. This point was a crux. Sim could have gone on from there as the Derelict organ, taking over the role that Synapse had played. That first issue was playfully mythologized Toronto fandom, and still depended a great deal on the contributions. The second Sim was less playful, but continued to have Derelict participation as an important part. The next two issues were 2a and 2b, letter issues that marked time through the crucial period when everyone was developing their own zines. By the third "proper" ish, it was too late, and an argument had driven Victoria temporarily into exile. Because of the letter issues Sim had ceased to be a Tronna zine at the beginning of 1976, but from Oct. 1976 on it was irreversibly an American zine dominated by American contributors, and the Derelict focal point zine hadn't materialized.
Simulacrum 3 was the first really good looking [zine] in the series, and fandom at that time was at that time looking for a replacement for zines such as Energumen and Granfalloon. It fastened on Sim quickly, earning Victoria the reputation as the best mimeographer of the time. Sim 7 (new numbering) was fancier still, and the last issue could contend with the last issue of Carandaith as the single most impressively mimeo'd zine fandom had produced. The problem was that fandom had noticed that the contents weren't living up to the appearance. (A common complaint of Trumpet.) Far from [being] a fannish focal point like Energumen, Sim became increasingly sercon. The fannish writers of Energumen's days had retired from most fanac and Victoria was getting decidedly second rate material in comparison. Faced with a zine with a life of its own, she folded it. There were plans for a last, reprint issue, and a far more fannish replacement, but time passed without either materializing.
Between Sim 7 and 8, Victoria published the Fanthology 76, a selection of some of the best writings in fanzines that year. The first edition of 200 sold out, and the funds went to a second edition of the same size. As of this writing , about 75 remain, so that profits promised to TAFF and DUFF are still to be made. Aside from Sim and the Fanthology, Victoria had brief and unhappy stays in a Woman's APA, Mishap, APA-50, & publishing Non Sequitur, Lucifer, and a small number of other, ephemeral titles. Two issues of Lucifer were quite large - 30 and 34 pages - and were more like personalzines. Two issues of Non Sequitur were personalzines, and the two numbers put through FAPA might as well have been. After Non Sequitur 16, Victoria had no plans to continue publishing at all. And that was how matters stood more or less when we began DNQ together.
My own publishing after resigning as OSFiC secretary dropped from a modest level to almost non-existence. Through most of Sim's early issues I was publishing apazines like nearly everyone else in the new Derelicts, sprinkled with the occasional one-shot and con program book. Apart from apa-hacking in AZAPA, later OASIS, I was improving my skills as a fan artist, being best known for that at the time. Not until March 1977 did I publish anything significant. I'd been promising Delta Psi for a long, long time, but produced the ring-bound, four thematic sections, and 56 pages of it between Sims 3 and 7. It was comparable as a display of mimeo skill, and allowed me to compete for a while with Victoria's reputation. After this one spurt of glory, however, I was back to inglorious apazines, and even found myself publishing OSFiC newsletters again by the end of the year. And so matters stood when Victoria and I began DNQ.
(Taral Wayne, "Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980" [unpublished, 1981])
I think it's worth noting that by 1979/80, when I was discovering fanzine fandom through my club’s fanzine library in Victoria ... there were no Toronto zines available to me. None of the Big Names of fanzine fandom. Over the following decade, I got to see one  edition of DNQ and one  edition of Energumen, both final editions. And at no time were a lot of the references of fanzine fandom fully explained. Fandom guides, when I found them, did not really fill in the background: not the background of contemporary fandom, anyway. The references were generally to fanzine, or fannish fandom.
Maybe you begin to see why I think the level of communication in fandom is kind of low.
Fabulous Edmonton Fandom: The Edmonton SF and Comic Art Society
During the 1970s - when fanzine fandom still ruled (apparently), conventions were still supposed to break even but not make profits (or so I was told), and fans could reasonably be expected to understand "apa", "corflu" and "fanac" – one of the largest and most active fan communities in Canada was based in Edmonton.
Growing Pains: The Edmonton SF and Comic Art Society was founded by January 1976; the president was one Ian Fraser; its membership dues at that time were $5, and the members ranged in age from 9 to over 30 years old.
Robert Runté writes:
Originally, the club had a deal with Cinema 16 (pre-repertory theatre) and co-sponsored an SF series. The Cinema 16 team realized they could make more cash on their own and gave ESFCAS the boot, leaving the club high and dry, without meeting space, and (with) bills. (ESFCAS had met in the theatre after the movie.)
(Robert Runté, private correspondence)
Some of the films were popular items like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and were drawing cards. (Michael Hall cleared up one point for me - these were Student Union film showings, not ESFCAS film showings.)
King Log (I): A dispute arose early in ESFCAS' history, when the club seemed to be drifting. As Dave Vereschagin later put it in the ESFCAS Newsletter, not only were club activities not being done, they were being undone by the executives' inactivity. ESFCAS had planned a number of activities in 1976: a picnic in July, a writers' workshop, movie showings, a lecture, a fanzine, even a con; but publicity was nonexistent (the Wee Book Inns received no membership forms), no August executive meeting was held, neither was a planned 'trade-a-con', and preparations for the picnic just sort of disappeared.
Dave Vereschagin, Bob Thompson and Andrew Thompson sent an open letter to members, outlining their dissatisfaction with the lack of activity, and with the unrealistic expenses which the executive were contemplating. Vereschagin, Bob Thompson and Eugene Plawiuk later ran with others as a slate for the executive; they promised to get activities organized, to inform the members of what was going on, and to stop the drifting.
The September newsletter explained that Ian Fraser had left town in the middle of elections, and the vice-president couldn't be found; so the Plawiuk slate were forced to take charge in August, and act as an interim executive. Other pieces of paper I found in E.B. Klassen's fanzine library indicate that Ian Fraser's communications to ESFCAS actually existed, but evidently they weren't reaching all the members. The Plawiuk slate promised proper elections in December, got the newsletter on the road, and made themselves accessible.
(Think about this. Robert Runté writes that "Ian moved to Calgary for personal [school] reasons about this time"; but that doesn't explain why he didn't organize or delegate club activities so as to carry on, before he left; or why he left without sufficiently communicating with his club. This sort of behaviour shows up again and again, among fans.)
By the end of the Plawiuk executive's term, ESFCAS was out of debt; book and poster discounts for members had been arranged at several stores; and membership lists had been printed, so people could meet and identify each other. Assistance was being solicited for various club activities. The Wee Book Inns had continued to support ESFCAS in this period, and the exec. had effectively redirected the club.
ESFCAS in the late 70s to mid-80s became a centre of fannish activity, producing a score of fanzines and several APAs, and holding two meetings weekly for a time. In the late 70s Edmonton fandom was well-known for fanzines such as Neology (the entertaining ESFCAS clubzine), The Monthly Monthly (edited in turn by members of an editorial collective), New Canadian Fandom, and many personalzines. Rob and Derek McCulloch set up APAs for Star Trek, comics and even James Bond fans. The Edmonton SF and Comic Arts Society founded NonCon, which became an annual, perambulating Alberta regional convention.
To a large extent ESFCAS was basically a large contingent of University of Alberta students in their mid-twenties, and the continuing interest and activity of this community derived from the large contingent of co-ed students who now entered fandom, who were also in their mid-twenties.
Decadent Winnipeg Fandom
Between 1975 and 1977, there was a resurgence in Winnipeg fandom. Michael Hall writes in Schmag #2 (Dec. 1978) that "people would come over at various times, and discuss SF, fandom, and whatever else came along. (Randy Reichardt) decided to try and get a local fan group going, and the WSFS was as good a start as any ..."
What was later called "Decadent Winnipeg Fandom" was basically a loose association of fans who socialized, went to cons, and put out fanzines, including Reichardt's Winding Numbers. Several members of DWF were friends of Randy's from the University of Manitoba; others were met at a talk by Judith Merril in Winnipeg (in 1975 or 1976), or at Chester Cuthbert's home, such as Stu Gilson, and Garth Danielson. I associate Danielson most strongly with his fanzine Schmag, and some running gag or other called "lard fandom". Chris Rutkowski read of the Winnipeg SF Society in 1973 or 1974, in a copy of Other Worlds picked up at the Red River Bookstore; John Robert Colombo says in Years of Light that "Winnipeg has always been a good city for fandom, for it has had more than its share of used-book dealers ... associations, and collectors." Mike Hall was recruited in June '77, he wrote in Schmag, when Randy Reichardt spotted his change of address in Karass (which was then, I gather, North America's main news fanzine, later succeeded by File 770).
So about this time, DWF asked Cuthbert's permission to use the name WSFS, which he gave. Under this name they produced a radio show, "Step Beyond", in the late 1970s, sponsored by Peter Shott (co-owner of the Red River Bookstore), and held Uncon in 1978.
VCon 5 and Inside from the Inside
VCon 5 (1976) was held in May and at U.B.C. (in the Gage Residence tower), for the first time. Gage was not available during the term, which necessitated the date change, but it meant both lower attendance (says Ed Beauregard) and fewer expenses ("cheaper rooms, great facilities" - Robert Runté). Larry Niven was GoH and David George was chair.
Elrons were presented this year by David George:
1. (category?) to Space 1999.
2. Excessive Fiction In The Pursuit Of Science: Apollo-Soyuz Linkup.
3. For The Perpetration Of Terrible Short Stories Which WereWritten At Meetings And Which Were Subsequently Published In The BCSFA Newsletter: The B.C. Science Fiction Association.
4. For Assault On The English Language With Strange And Perverted Overusage Of The Comma And Semi-colon: Marauders Of Gor, by John Norman.
5. Elron Hall of Fame: Roger Elwood.
A benefit of this con was that BCSFA confans got to work with the U.B.C. conference people. A drawback is that the con merely broke even, and led to more personal feuding.
My one-shot (Inside from the Inside) gives much of the background on problems with V-Con 5. For Norma and I it was the end of our unbridled enthusiasm for fandom. Everything since then has had at least a shade of grey. One rapid consequence of the V-Con 5 disaster was the disintegration of the Westercon XXX committee. ...
(Ed Beauregard, personal correspondence)
Ed Beauregard wrote his first and only fan publication to point out what he feels went seriously wrong; and he kept being faced with less than good bookkeeping. It is of interest to look at what Inside from the Inside had to say. For one thing, several real, urgent issues inherent in V-Con 5 were ignored by Tom Balabanov, by Fran Skene, and by the newsletter (at least Ed says so). For another thing, Ed pointed out his criteria for a successful con - not just profitability, but also fan enjoyment, and new BCSFA members resulting after the con. He boiled this down to a 100-point rating scale:
Profitability, up to 35 points
Fan enjoyment, up to 35 points
New members, up to 30 points
Each profit point represents about $20, reflecting my 'ideal' profit figure of $700 for our conventions. The enjoyment figure is purely and totally subjective. Each membership point represents two new members signed up at or just after the convention.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
Because he totalled V-Con 5's score at less than 50, he considered the con a failure. Financially, as previously noted, the con only broke even; Ed attributed this to low attendance - the con was held when University was out, and on the Victoria Day weekend.
David George had claimed that no-one leaves Vancouver on a long weekend. Ed Beauregard concluded that V-Con 5 proved him wrong. Attendance was estimated at 700 - 800 eight months before the con (except by Mike Bailey); but about 400 actually showed up. Ed felt this worked out nicely - no overcrowding. (Complaints at V-Con 4 about crowding led Ed to give it a lower enjoyment rating. At a membership of about 600, Ed observed, the con changed not only in size but in the kind of event it became.) But the low attendance was not good financially.
The first time I heard the origins of the current club and convention in Ottawa was from personal correspondence with Marc Gérin-LaJoie, also known as StarWolf. This was, in fact, the first fanhistory I published in Maple Leaf Rag (March 1984). Marc wrote:
I founded the Ottawa Science Fiction Society back in '77; was president for two years; dropped out for a year; was vice-president back in '81; came back as president in '82; am still a member, and have been information officer, as well as newsletter editor, for the most on the former during most of that time, and editor for three years (most recent term), a few months ago).
The original membership of OSFS expanded explosively to roughly 150 in the first year. But it went down due to scholastic and job-move attrition to the 80-100 level after a couple of years, and has pretty much stayed there since.
(Marc Gérin-LaJoie, "The Ottawa SF Society", Maple Leaf Rag #4, March 1984)
Another article on OSFS' beginnings appeared in a 1987 Ottawa SF Statement. Marc Gérin-LaJoie wrote that OSFS "had its roots in the humungous STAR TREK conventions of the early '70s", not because OSFS was exclusively Trek-oriented but because "at the time, ST cons were the only examples of organized fandom available to [me] ..." Gary Moffat's SF bookshop, Alternatives, which opened on Somerset West, was credited as the beginning of an SF group in Ottawa; so was Oktobercon,
a small, one-day convention run out of a high school in Waterloo by Mike Wallis of Toronto (see, it is all Mike Wallis' fault!) - his first such of many. Taking note of the relative simplicity of such an event, and gaining moral support for the idea from Guests of Honour Spider and Jeanne Robinson, StarWolf ... quickly gained the last momentum needed to bring the concept to fruition. ...
Early programming consisted heavily of introductory talks on various sides of fan activities, from film societies to costuming. The newsletter was first published after the late February "official startup" meeting with the intention of keeping the membership apprised of developments in the field ...
(Marc Gérin-LaJoie, Ottawa SF Statement #116, Feb. 1987)
Michael McKenny wrote me that the son of one of the 1948 Ottawa SF Society members joined the early 1977 Ottawa SF Society, but had trouble convincing anyone there had been any earlier activity, so he kept quiet and eventually drifted away.
Before a certain point, OSFS was a club of mostly like-minded people. Maplecon was their (multi)media-oriented convention. OSFS members usually go somewhere for a dinner after the meeting. In the early days when meetings were at NRC the closest eatery was the Harvey's on Rideau St.; some of us even walked. This came to be referred to as "holding a HarveyCon" even after we switched venues. On one occasion Toh and I had some business to discuss and he suggested we meet somewhere for dinner. I said, "Fine. Which Harvey's?" I can still hear his plaintive reply, "Does it HAVE to be a Harvey's?"
(Ann Elid, "Worm's Castings", Ottawa SF Statement #200, Feb. 1994)
The first Ottawa SF Statement was published March 1977, edited by StarWolf. Editorship rotated to Chris Hackett, Terry Newcombe, Hildegarde Henderson, Jim Rea, Starwolf again, Joe Casey, and Lionel Wagner with Beulah Wadsworth.
John Mansfield attended OSFS meetings from the second one ever held, and served as the first Vice-President. Up to Oct. 1977, judging from reprinted ten-year-old minutes in the club newsletter, John Mansfield was vice-president of the Ottawa SF Society. He resigned in Oct. 1977 to work on a wargaming con.
(Ottawa SF Statement
(John Mansfield, e-mail, Sept. 1996)
In June 1977, [writer] Charles Saunders founded Stardock, the club fanzine, and edited it for two years; it was taken over by Jeff Cohen in 1979. Stardock was to have been the "bonus" for being a full member. It never was and it was as much or more an anthology as a fanzine. It was succeeded by Maplecade and later Cascade, edited by Sansoucy Kathenor Walker.
(Ann Elid, "Worm's Castings", Ottawa SF Statement #200, Feb. 1994)
Here is what Linda Frum's Guide to Canadian Universities says about the University of Alberta:
Albertans love business and they love malls. Naturally enough, when the University of Alberta wanted to create a focus for student extracurricular life, it didn't bother with such effete central-Canadian refinements as reading rooms, debating halls, games rooms, art galleries, or imposing dining halls. Instead, it built its own Eaton Centre. Alberta students love the tubes, projecting inner balconies, and the great, arched glass ceilings of the lavish Hub Mall ...
The new U of A research hospital fills several city blocks. Thanks to its faculty and modern equipment, U of A undergraduates enjoy some of the finest scientific facilities in the country. ...
As a prospective student at either of Alberta's urban universities, you must choose between big (U of C) and immense (U of A). At U of A, you can go all day without seeing anybody you know; your classes will be huge; you'll probably never talk to a professor; and the line-up for the 5 o'clock buses may bring to mind the last train from Paris in 1940. On the other hand, the choice of specialties and courses is vast; the equipment in the professional schools and in the scientific departments is gleaming and new; and the library is the second-best in Canada. It's easy to see why U of A is thought by many to be the best school west of Toronto ...
(Linda Frum, Linda Frum's Guide to Canadian Universities, Key Porter Books, 1987)
ESFCAS underwent enormous growth after 1977 or 78. To a great extent, as noted earlier, this is attributed to an influx of not only college-age men, but college-age women into the club. At one point, ESFCAS membership topped 300.
The 1977 executive included John McBain (president "at his second meeting"), David Stuart (VP), and Robert Runté (sec/treas). By this time, meetings were being held in the Student Union Building at the University of Alberta.
ESFCAS had invested dollars in a group called Paranoid Publishing (Vereschagin, Plawiuk and Bob Thompson), who put out some semiprozines. Antares was devoted to SF criticism, and included art by Vereschagin; the other (Quest) was devoted to comic art criticism. Robert Runté indicates that only two SF zines and one comic zine were published. Paranoid Publishing also sold Red Sonya T-shirts and John Byrne art at the first Open House and Book Exchange in March, an event which turned out to be a great way to advertise. (OHBE -"Oh-bee (one)" - get it?) The March newsletter, like the one before it, was reproduced by ditto, and was evidently expanding its coverage of local, SF, film and comics news. Robert Runté was culling most of this material for the ESFCAS Newsletter from Karass (then North America's main fan newszine). Fannish news from abroad included notes on Minicon 12, and Westercon XXX in Vancouver (July 1977).
A Little Romance
By about 1977, as noted above, many if not most ESFCAS members were 20- to 25-year-old males, undergraduates or graduate students at the University of Alberta. The release of Star Wars about this time seems to have propelled a new influx of SF fans into fandom; memberships in ESFCAS, at any rate, went up; so did the percentage of female membership.
(Robert Runté writes that this is "not strictly accurate; ESFCAS was always about 50/50 male/female after the first six months, but it is true that it ran as a huge singles club for the first couple of years.")
ESFCAS seems to have gone through a number of distinct phases, and Marianne Neilsen calls what now happened the "romance phase." During the "romance" phase, according to Diane Walton-LeBlanc, Edmonton fandom would party at the drop of a hat, and for a few months meetings were held not just weekly, but twice a week. Neilsen sees the "romance" phase itself as going through a few stages. First, members met other members to, well, totally identify with. Then, little faults, appeared, and built up ... and finally any mutual abrasiveness became super-wounding. Great, stormy split-ups followed, about the time of NonCon 1, which tangled personal, political and administrative issues.
... It's like a hasty marriage following a whirlwind courtship. Most members of ESFCAS at that time were swept away by the simple fact that, finally, after (usually) a crummy childhood and lonely adolescence, they had found a group of people who spoke the same language and shared the same interests.
Instant infatuation was a natural thing, and thus followed the period of the partying and growing closer together with members of the opposite (or the same) gender. The mutual trust and comfort level among fans is, I think, a unique thing which should be treasured and enjoyed.
(Not everybody, it turned out later, formed the same assumptions before coming to ESFCAS. We will return to this when covering AnnDel Savelle's term as president.)
Unfortunately, when any love affair goes sour because the shining armour gets a little tarnished, people tend to want to place blame, rather than accept the fact that things just didn't work out, and try to remain friends. We took sides in the conflict ... (Unfortunately some of us are of the opinion that dredging up these memories is rather painful; but as you say, it may help other young organizations to realize that their problems are nothing new. Life does go on, and amazingly enough, some of us do mature with age.)
By summer 1977, ESFCAS membership had grown to 122 ("122 active members - lots more we never saw." Robert Runté). Diane Walton-LeBlanc writes that members and executives seemed to be more interested in socializing at ESFCAS meetings than in any programmed activities. All business was done at ONE Annual General Meeting each year. (Is this a good tip for clubs which have trouble getting any decisions taken, or any business done? We shall see ...)
By this time, Dave Vereschagin had introduced John Durno to ESFCAS. Vereschagin and Durno both became personalzine publishers and well-represented fanartists in ESFCAS. Over the summer of 1977, fanac increased rather than slacking off; among other activities members came up with were a writing workshop, and a second Open House and Book Exchange. The University of Alberta SF & Comic Art Society was reactivated in the fall (essentially a subsidiary of ESFCAS, run by Andrew Thompson, for dealing with the University). The second Open House and Book Exchange featured five bookstore tables, films, a club display, refreshments, speakers, and the release of Quest from Paranoid Publishing. 750 - 800 people came; after this, ESFACKians decided to hold NonCon in 1978.
1977: Westercon 30 and a new generation of Northwest conventions
Vancouver fans won the right to hold Westercon in Vancouver in 1977. Westercon XXX was held at U.B.C.'s Totem Residence in 1977. (Apparently this took the place of VCon that year.) Fran Skene was chair. Westercon XXX gained BCSFA a whole bunch of new members subsequent to the con; attendance is supposed to have been around l000. Among other items of interest at the con were the Flying Karamazov Bros.
Helene Flanders came to Westercon, and there discovered fandom; she quickly became active in BCSFA, and later edited BCSFAzine from ##57 - 71. She also worked on VCons 6 through 9, and was well-known for her flamboyant costumes.
Robert Runté wrote to me,
Westercon also made a huge profit, $2,000 - first time a con made so much that they didn't know what to do with it - eventually bought an E-stencil machine and banked the rest. (Cons were NOT supposed to be profit-making; supposed to just break even, the other smacks of ripping off fans).
(Robert Runté, personal communication)
This con was a different experience for different people; the comment "a one-and-a-half-day convention crammed into four days" is attributed to California newszine editor Mike Glyer. For local fans, it was the biggest SF con held in Vancouver to that date. (Westercon, a perambulating convention for Western North America, had grown perhaps more than any other convention besides Worldcon.)
Ed Beauregard wrote:
As had happened with V-Con 3, the Westercon XXX books were dumped in my lap after the convention, when the treasurer proved unable to figure out what had happened. Despite very poor accounting practices, Westercon XXX made a very healthy profit, the best to that time. This is a point I will refer to ... later on in discussing V-Con 12.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
Curiously, quite a number of conventions in the Pacific Northwest region started in the year or two following Westercon 30. This includes NonCon (Alberta), Moscon (Idaho), Spokon (Spokane, now discontinued), Vikingcon (Bellingham), Norwescon (Seattle) and OryCon (Portland). One suspects a connection.
It is about 14 to 17 hours' driving time from Edmonton, or Calgary, to any other SF conventions, as in Vancouver, B.C. or Moscow, Idaho. At the outset the founding fans, like students, had more time and energy than they had money, experience or other resources to mount a convention.
Another item of interest here is that this was the first-ever con for most of the Old Guard in the Edmonton SF and Comic Art Society; Westercon XXX was a major influence on Edmonton fandom, and the source of most of their ideas of what a con was. ESFCAS' “Lysistrata Corps” took form at Westercon XXX. and several ESFACKians took copious notes and based their plans for NonCon 1 on them. ESFCAS veterans have told me that a contingent of their members planned NonCon on the basis of their collected notes (later titled Nootka/Revetawa). (What happened to the notes, titled Nootka/Revetawa, no-one today knows.)
Other veterans tell me that NonCon was planned from the first as a perambulating regional; I suspend judgement, as I have assembled some history regarding the first couple of NonCons which perambulated to Calgary, and some of the information is not consistent.
One funny story about this con: Robert Runté and Dave Vereschagin, later luminaries of Edmonton fanzine fandom, both came from Edmonton to this V-Con, they even stayed in adjacent rooms, but did not meet until three months later ... Believe it, or not!
Vaughn Fraser published his first Fantarama (a short-lived SF and comic art magazine) in 1977.
Meanwhile, Back at
the Ranch Edmonton
The summer 1977 ESFCAS newsletter (the first to be mimeo'd) featured a Suncon report, and referred to a collection of Westercon XXX reports in Nootka/Revetawa, available from Robert Runté: good, informative, instructional material for the fledgling NonCon SF Society of Alberta. This Society was started "so that planning for NonCon I could commence":
We needed some credibility when dealing with hotels for contracts and so forth, as well as the financial protection for the executive in case the con lost money ...
A side note: NonCon was always meant to be held in places other than Edmonton. We accepted the fact that local organizers would eventually burn out, and it was only a matter of time before clubs in other cities grew large enough and organized enough to handle a con of that size. Calgary was an obvious choice, and Rick (LeBlanc) did a lot of lobbying to get a Calgary executive for NonCon IV.
We didn't make it an Alberta Society for nothing. And when some active Edmonton fans moved to Red Deer, it was an obvious choice to have the con in a central location.
Robert Runté's background includes deep involvement over many years with ESFCAS, the Edmonton SF club which at one point reached over 300 members, and which fostered an efflorescence of fanzine publishing in the 1970s; and with NonCon, the Alberta regional con.
The Science Fiction Association of Victoria
SFAV's first zine folded after two issues. For the next ten years, SFAV never topped a total attendance of about 50, and often less. Attendance at meetings usually ran to 6 to 12 people.
By the late 70's, SFAV, its daughter club (UVicSFA) at the University, and the UFCST held summer shopping-mall displays, fall Open Houses, joint dinners and parties and some joint charitable events for a local telethon. Individual activities included SFX amateur films, modelling, writing, drawing, collecting of SF publications; club activities included dances, beach parties, filed trips and picnics, swimming, potluck dinners, and attending SF/F film premieres with the other clubs. Dues were $8/yr, and gave one a membership card, fanzine subscription, and discounts at some local stores.
One Cat Middlemiss was briefly a member of SFAV, until he had some kind of falling-out with Paul Delaney. Cat started what he called the "United Federation of Canadian Star Trekkers", a year later than SFAV arose, and was president until the day he walked off with much of the UFCST's library and possessions. Bernie Klassen wrote in 1985 that this group was forced to set a lower age limit at 16.
The UFCST (Victoria)
Lloyd Penney adds:
In August 1977, I moved from Orillia, Ontario to Victoria, and soon saw a notice of a Trek club starting up. This was the United Federation of Canadian Star Trekkers, founded by Cat Middlemiss, Dan Cawsey, and Tony Sine. I was one of their first members, and for a while we had a great time partying, gathering for workshops, working on various projects, and staging mall displays and shows. There were plans to get to at least one VCon, usually foiled for lack of money. The club suddenly found that Cat and his wife Lois had disappeared, absconding with most of the club's possessions and its treasury, which had several hundred dollars in it. Lois had some medical problems, and Cat was a struggling artist with a slick tongue, so we weren't too surprised to find them and the money gone. The club staggered on anyway. We later discovered that Cat was no artist at all, but was claiming the products of his younger brother as his own. However, those days of finding out about fandom were amongst the happiest of my life. I finally had some friends with a common interest, like Cat, Dan, Tony, Joanne van Heteren, Stephanie Lightbody, Pat Kilner, Paul Delaney, and Lynne Fonseca. Paul was at one time the second-in-command of both the UFCST and SFAV.
(Opuntia #19, May 1994)
The Vancouver Comic Book Club
The Vancouver Comic Book Club seems to have formed rather later than BCSFA. "In 1975," Len Wong wrote to me, "a fan named Terry Hamilton put on a few comic-book 'swap meets' at the Dunbar Community Centre. These took place approximately every three months, and seemed to be very successful." But the VCBC itself wasn't formed until 1977, with Len Wong and soon-to-be-BCSFAn Vaughn Fraser, both represented in some of the earliest numbers of the VCBC Bulletin.
Len Wong also wrote that the Vancouver Comic Book Club was formed "thanks to an LIP [Local Initiatives Program] grant awarded to another community facility, the Cedar Cottage Neighborhood House. The group's original founder was Ray Mickus (sp?), who worked at Cedar Cottage and had to use up all his LIP money by the end of summer."
By October 10-12, 1977, people were coming regularly to VCBC meetings (although the level of attendance disappointed the execs), and plans were underway for a third Cedarcon. Other members included J.H. Larmour, Elaine Mah, Abram Larmour and Peter Hacket.
Fraser pointed out in the newsletter that VCBC was started without very clearly defined objectives, but at this point, the club's scope of interests and activities was sorting itself out, and Fraser sought to spell them out for members.
Fraser kept running into the psychology that some people wanted to trade concessions (e.g. free VCBC memberships, dealer's tables) for favours to the club, or to Fraser's zines. He emphasized that VCBC was a non-profit organization; contributions were accepted gratis.
Edmonton Fanzines Emerge
By Dec. '77, John McBain could write a fairly satisfied retrospective on his ESFCAS exec.'s effect on the club; he also described some future plans. Robert Runté gave a treasurer's report (something which had not been attended to before his term). Among other new activities were preparations for The Brand New Symbolic Peach Pit, ESFCAS' planned clubzine (which unfortunately never appeared), and the appearance of DADAPA, the fun-and-nonsense apa (founded by Dave Vereschagin, "the only one who understood real Dada" - Robert Runté); the apa and Vereschagin's perzine absorbed most of Vereschagin's energies. ESFCAS was also showing its own film program around this time.
The 1978 ESFCAS executive included Marianne Neilsen (president), John Durno (VP), Robert Runté (sec./treas.), Yvonne Anderson (house committee director), Mary-Karen Reid (program committee director). David Vereschagin became newsletter editor; his personalzine first class was already going, and he started White Space, his genzine, the same year. By this point ESFCAS was the largest club in Canada, with over 150 members.
Edmonton Fringe Groups, e.g. The "Lysistrata Corps"
Marianne Neilsen noted in her correspondence that a great number of fringe groups had formed in ESFCAS, with their own activities; she named the Lysistrata Corps, which held a "benefit orgy" (should I ask?); the Permanent Floating Riot Club, which held all-night parties ("The PFRC included virtually all the active members - active in the social side of things": Michael Hall); a noisy Chivalry & Sorcery group (quickly tossed out); the DADAPists, and a "conspicuous" Trekker group. Marianne Neilsen and Diane Walton-LeBlanc attest to a short-lived Darkovan Council, started two months before NonCon 1, which later became the Council of the Black Tower, published Idriel Rising (Joyce Rubin ed.), and faded out after the con. Some of the Darkovans showed up at VCon 6 in May 1978.
October 1977 is the first mention of the all-woman Lysistrata Corps Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. This was one of several small interest groups that sprang up when ESFCAS grew big enough; members met new people at the door, introduced them to likeminded fans, and helped convivialize the meetings. ... the Lysistrata Corps was actually "born" when the crew went to Westercon XXX in Vancouver in 1977. The women wanted to do something that would be unique to Edmonton fandom, so they had L.C. T-shirts made up, and I believe ... the men were the `men's auxiliary.'
The Corps was good, mainly because ESFCAS females were all of the same age (23 - 25), and we enjoyed each other's company. So we arranged evenings for 'the girls,' and when Yvonne Anderson and Tony Higgins got married, we established the tradition of the stag party for LC only. The guest of honor is treated to a lavish supper at a good (usually Chinese) restaurant, followed by an all-night party at which she is presented with something slinky ... (As we get older, the parties get shorter! Few all-nighters these days). If nobody is due to get hitched, we find another excuse for a party. I suppose we are rather smug about the whole thing, because of the disparaging remarks about women not being able to get along in any organization. It's traditional that the women in Old Guard ESFCAS have been a positive driving force in all club events, and we don't seem to have any problems with cooperation. ...
The Lysistrata Corps are also responsible for the infamous male harem application form. Harlan Ellison is honorary Chief Concubine. ...
As I understand it, several fan communities, e.g. Midwest fandom, have sooner or later featured rather Amazonian social groups like the Lysistrata Corps. More power to them.
"Jiants in the earth, and mighty fen of old" (2)
Fanzine activity kept rising in Edmonton from 1978 to 1980. ESFCAS' newsletter was rechristened Neology in 1978. John Durno entered the fray, uh, field by producing The Old Zing Letterzine. Ron Gillies threatened to come out with Dragonscales, the fantasy fanzine he was compiling. To add to the confusion, the club mimeo was made available to the members for reproducing their own zines (e.g. Weird Tails). In 1979, Georges Giguère started Compound Fracture; Dreamscapes (formerly Keith Fenske's DADAPAzine) appeared, and so did the new ESFCAS Guide to SF & Fandom.
Dave Vereschagin, John Durno, Robert Runté and Christine Kulyk started a highly active group called the Gang of Four (later including Randy Reichardt and Michael Hall), "because they agreed so well on the intellectual outlook on life", Michael Hall writes. "Later I was added, along with Rosanne Charest when I started seeing her, and Bob Weir because `he was Robert's friend'. Randy Reichardt was an ex-officio member, sorta like Steve George in DWF. We were also always the fanzine fans in the club, with the exception of Georges Giguère ... " And they put out The Monthly Monthly.
You might want to make a note of what the Gang of Four did: they took it in turn to put out a quality genzine, with contributions mostly from within the group. Each member took a course in downtown Edmonton in quality mimeography. Unfortunately the Gang didn't manage to keep each other from burning out - TMM became The Bimonthly Monthly and then, eventually, disappeared. Some but not all of the group were Neology editors, earlier or later. Georges Giguère writes that the early Gang of Four held high positions on the concom of NonCon 1.
This was also around the time when Mike Hall and Randy Reichardt, of Decadent Winnipeg Fandom, moved to Edmonton. Mike Hall had written wistfully about the lack of activity in Winnipeg fandom; Randy Reichardt would write sardonically that Decadent Winnipeg Fandom didn't die - it just moved to Edmonton, "temporarily." Other members moved to Kitchener, Ontario, or to Minneapolis. In the late 1980s and 1990s, former ESFCAS members moved as far west as Vancouver, such as Catherine Girczyc and Tim Smick, or even to Victoria, like Darcy Greishuber, or Adam Charlesworth.
Yet More APAs
In early 1977, Mike Bailey in Vancouver proposed APA-V. This seemed to come to nothing, unless it inspired Fran Skene to found BCAPA a year later. The first mailing went out in April 1978. By May, the monthly BCAPA had 15 members; by July, it had filled its roster of 25. A few out-of-town members have always belonged, but mostly it has been a preserve of local fandom. It had begun something of a slump, I believe, by the 20th mailing, when a new influx of members boosted the roster and the page count. The Derelicts had broken up, and the remnants for a while thought to move to Vancouver, and joined the apa in preparation. Edmonton fen had left BCAPA prior to this (possibly causing the slump), and when the Toronto fans left the apa it slumped again, like an electron returning to ground state.
BCAPA has a sister in VANAPA, begun in December shortly after the first. With many of the same members, it is not much different, but Vancouver fans characterize the one as sercon and the other as faanish. BCAPA, the one I was a member of for about ten mailings, was reported to be the sercon of the two, but from my experience I would more readily label it "mundane" and VANAPA as "silly" and "mundane". Both apas are insular and rather superficial.
(Taral Wayne, "In Plain Brown Wrappers", * 1981)
Halcon 1 must have been held in 1978; Halcon 2 in 1979, and thus Halcon 3 in 1980. Such evidence as is available indicates that Halcon was consistently held at St. Mary's University, the small downtown university in Halifax, until Halcon 5.
Here is what Linda Frum's Guide to Canadian Universities says about St. Mary's:
To the extent that St. Mary's is known for anything besides athletics and partying, it is known for its dedication to undergraduate teaching, and for fostering a feeling of community. Over 40 percent of the 3,000 students live in residence. Apply early - there are simply no vacant apartments in Halifax, and anyway, students in residence have the most fun. ...
(Linda Frum, Linda Frum's Guide to Canadian Universities, Key Porter Books, 1987)
Calgary and DEC
By the late 1970s, the first Calgary SF group had mostly graduated, and gafiated at the same time. A new club formed from the remnant, including Bob Gibson, Gordon McNab, Eric Tilbrook, and Grant Thiessen (owner of Pandora's Books). Eric Tilbrook and Amin Bhatia produced the radio play "Cattlefarm Galactica", and it has been popular ever since (when it appears).
In 1978, Arlene Morlidge moved from Edmonton (and ESFCAS) to Calgary. About 1979, Gordon MacNab left to the States, Grant Thiessen moved to Manitoba and opened a mail-order business, and Amin Bhatia dedicated himself to his work.
The remaining group included Bonnie Liesemer, Kevin Jeppson, and Eric Tilbrook. They then formed the next Calgary club, DEC (the initials standing for a Secret Message). Arlene Morlidge was the first president (largely, says Steve Johnson, because she was then the youngest member present).
Later Calgary fandom can be traced back ultimately to DEC, which hosted NonCons 4 and 6. Some former members of DEC started holding occasional ONOCons (February relaxicons) in 1985, and staffed NonCons 11 and 16 in the 1990s.
On the evidence, DEC seemed to me somewhat out of touch with fandom out-of-town. You may correct me if I am wrong. Regarding the name of the club, Stephen Johnson wrote to me, "... the secret name was not really a big deal, but we did think it was a cute gimmick. Alan Dewar eventually made a list of about 30,000 possible names (Decadent Embryo Club, etc.) including the real one, for parties."
V-Con 6 was held in 1978, the year that Steve Forty learned to use the
Gestetner for the program book (or was it 1977?). Fran Skene was chair. What
became known later as the "Surrey Contingent" joined after this con.
Elrons presented by Ed Beauregard.
1. Most Rapacious Author: Stanislaw Lem.
2. Conspiracy Behind Every Plot Award: Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
3. Elron Hall Of Shame: John Norman, for self-plagiarism.
4. Latent Degeneracy Realized Award: BCSFA, accepted by Hen Flanders.
5. Bombcon Award: Prunecon.
6. Where No Rip-Off Has Gone Before Award: The Star Wars Concert.
7a. Straw Rats Award For Mindlessly Derivative Inanity, Combined With Purple Prose By Someone Who Ought To Know Better, and Second Rate Illustrations By Someone Who Plainly Doesn't: Empire, by Samuel R. Delaney.
7b. One Hundred Monkeys In A Roomful Of Typewriters Award: Battlestar Galactica.
7c. Most Original Plot Of An SF TV Episode: "The Lost Warrior" episode of Battlestar Galactica.
7d. Go Away Little Sheba Award For Most Alarming Threat To The Future Bliss And Prosperity Of The SF Medium: Roger Elwood for threatening to make a comeback as an SF editor.
7e. Judge Roy Bean Award For Pettiest Threat Of Resort To Legal Action When No Such Was Called For: Nova, the PBS series, for forcing the projected magazine of that name to change to "Omni."
(SFA Digest, #1)
Gerald Boyko suggested about this time that BCSFAzine #100 be made a genzine with collected fanhistorical material; a suggestion which was taken up, long after a hundredth issue would have normally come out.
Gamesters of Triskelion
Meanwhile, over at Simon Fraser University, something unlooked-for was stirring ... something obscure, something almost ... fannish? The Gamesters of Triskelion were a gaming/SF club formed by four students in the fall of 1978; members of the core group included William C.S.A.A. Lowe, Ross Kerr, and Jacqueline (Stirling) Lee.
The Gamesters' Guide, their first newsletter, was published in October 1978, and was intended to be a bimonthly publication, edited by William Lowe. There were about three subsequent newsletters, until the summer of 1979.
Originally the Gamesters of Triskelion was a book-buying and discussion club. Membership varied from 10 to 23.
Vancouver Comic Cons
By August of 1978, VCBC had held several Cedarcons (about eight were planned per year), and a new executive was appointed. Vaughn Fraser and Harland Ronning, as chair and treasurer, were replaced by Abram Larmour, Keith Partridge and Doug Brown. Later, a Jay O'Keeffe joined the club.
Decadent Winnipeg Fandom and Uncon
The Winnipeg SF Society held Uncon on Sept. 9, 1978, a one-day con with over 550 attendees. Reichardt indicated in Winding Numbers #6 that the hope was to inject new blood into WSFS (and DWF).
We've got a huckster room ... and another area ... that'll house the WSFS people (DWF, basically), as well as a refreshment table, and a stuffed bison that we all really believe to be a Venusian Dog. We're also showing mandatory films, including 2001 and The Making of Silent Running, along with some NFB shorts and Bambi Meets Godzilla .... The only possible hassle that could occur is an onslaught of Trekkies.
It was very successful, and encouraged further development. The Journal of the Winnipeg SF Society (a four-page mimeo production) appeared Sept. 21st that year, edited by James Hall. But this was the only issue published.
Then, as Chris Rutkowski indicates in Swamp Gas Journal (Dec. '83), "most of the core of WSFS left Winnipeg ... what was left was a group of not-as-seriously-dedicated individuals ..."
Randy Reichardt wrote:
It is unfortunate that those who remained after many of us left didn't continue the work ... It was always my understanding . .. that everything we had worked towards never came to pass after we left, and that saddens me ...
Chris Rutkowski wrote:
Even at this point, WSFS still had speakers at most meetings and tried to organize discussion groups. However, this is where the `new' WSFS failed to cut it. Most of the remaining `original' members took a dim view of Trekdom, which alienated the Trekkers, who happened to make up a majority at one point.
The Ottawa SF Society
The Ottawa SF Society and another club formed “Ottawa Fandom Incorporated”, which started holding Maplecon in 1978. Maplecon was one of the longest-running Canadian conventions. Maplecons appear to have been autumn conventions at first, although they were regular July events when I became aware of them.
Maplecon I was held Oct. 13-15, 1978 at the Skyline Hotel. Keith Laumer was a late addition to the GoH lineup, "coming up from Florida at his own cost." Preregistration stood at 120 a month in advance. I haven't tracked down other details, such as the site or Guests of Honour.
Back in 1978, I decided the club needed a `direction'. After our first year (quite successful), it was getting on time to try our hand at a con. A 150-member club needs something to tie it together from year to year, and to draw 'new blood'.
By the dust off our scales and fur off our backs - not to mention L*U*C*K - it worked.
See, we drew attention to ourselves, and other people grew interested.
The next year, the local comics club joined in, and it became a joint venture.
In a sense, Maplecon was partially responsible for OSFS never quite getting back up to the old level ..
(Marc Gérin-LaJoie, "The Ottawa SF Society", Maple Leaf Rag #4, March 1984)
It is of interest to note that, after a certain point, dead dog parties at Maplecon were closed parties, restricted to the people who worked on the con, and conversation there centred on how things went and how to correct things that went wrong. It took a few years to establish that conventions out of town defined dead dogs as open parties.
The first NonCon was held Oct. 7-9, 1978, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Edmonton. GoH was Marion Zimmer Bradley; FanGoH was Grant Canfield. Dave Vereschagin (the chair), Robert Runté, Ron Gillies and the rest of the concom were organized far in advance (according to Neology), but showed signs of rising nervous tension as the event approached. Attendance was around 400 to 450.
(I did not learn until 1998 that the founders got static from other North American fans for using "noncon", a generic fannish term, as their convention title, or that they simply ignored the criticism they received.)
Hexagram 23: Breaking Apart
The Four Seasons was not very satisfactory to the concom ("the nicest by any order of magnitude in the city, and not a real good place for a con this size": Michael Hall), so they determined to hold the con elsewhere in subsequent years. $800 was advanced from the Alberta government for the writers' workshop (which Diane Walton-LeBlanc says was returned, because it turned out not to be needed).
There are unclear references to political blowups after NonCon I ("As a result of NonCon - people who were great to socialize with turned out to be a pain to work with." Robert Runté). Georges Giguère writes that "small important legal and business details were attended to at the very last minute (incorporation papers for the Alberta Culture grant were sworn in by Ron Gillies' mother, a J of the P, shortly before Vereschagin joined me, Lorna Toolis, Mary-Karen and Larry Reid in our mad caravan to Iguanacon)." Michael Skeet indicates that criticisms of the handling of NonCon I (before, during and after the event) brought responses in kind, directed at NonCon II. But almost all the steam had been let off by NonCon III.
Some people really downplay this. Marianne Neilsen, on the other hand, has expressed an opinion that NonCon I nearly blew up ESFCAS, or that personal problems had turned into political problems; perhaps too many differences were not worked out between people, but exposed in print: perhaps, when people met and socialized, there was too much purely social talking. I gather that this was when ESFCAS really started to divide up into different interest groups. Robert Runte notes: "By this time (it was) fanzine fans vs. con fans vs. club fans, etc." Georges Giguère writes that it was about this time that the Gang of Four started labelling some other members "Them". Birds of a feather tended to group around strong personalities in the club; some cliques were open, others were not; new people who didn't fit in immediately were not really welcomed. Already, says AnnDel O'Brien, the Old Guard and Gang of Four were talking about "the good old days."
Back to VCBC
By winter 1978, or the spring of 1979, Len Wong was president; Keith Partridge was treasurer; and the Bulletin editorship was rotated among Jay O'Keeffe, Abram Larmour, and Peter Cocking.
Rain (the Vancouver relaxicon)
There are different accounts of the origin of RAIN (Vancouver's February relaxicon). Ed Beauregard writes:
The first Rain was conceived in 1978 by some of the people who were not prepared to work on a Mike Bailey concom. It started taking on the character of a full-blown convention, until Norma in particular confronted several of the Key Rain committee members and very forcefully expressed her opinion of so dividing our efforts. Thereafter the relaxicon aspects of Rain were emphasized.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
Another account is that Rain was supposed to raise funds for a Vancouver Worldcon bid. Len Wong writes:
In the beginning, Rain took place as a relaxicon, with any profits going towards Vancouver's proposed Worldcon bid. Admission to the weekend was a mere $5, and booze was purchased on a donation basis. ... (My) point is, you knew (then) where the bucks were going.
(Len Wong, private correspondence)
Even More APAs
Edmonton fandom, the result of the fusion of the indigenous club and emigrants from Decadent Winnipeg fandom, was not to be outdone by Vancouver or Toronto as a hotbed of apa-creation. DADAPA was founded in 1979 by David Vereschagin as an apa dedicated to Dadaistic principles. If I hadn't mislaid my Official Organs I might be able to guess how many mailings of DADAPA there have been, but thus is history unmade. They will show up some day, found in the Vatican Library next to the lost poems of Sappho or in the mouth of a mummy in a Mexican catacomb. As an apa dedicated to Dadaistic principles, DADAPA didn't live up to its ideal. Vereschagin eventually expressed dissatisfaction and left, complaining that it was predictable and ordinary. Its star attraction, Keith Fenske, was almost expelled because he deliberately flouted the maxac rule because it was a rule. He eventually left, too.
(Taral Wayne, "In Plain Brown Wrappers", 1981)
Calgary, DEC, and NonCon
Steve Pikov entered DEC in 1979. Lexie Pakulak, a Toronto fan, moved to Calgary and joined DEC in the spring of 1980. Steve had perhaps little experience of fandom, but knew business procedures, budgeting, and commerce. Lexie knew Eastern fandom, and had attended numerous conventions such as Summercon there (and still didn't feel she knew very much about conrunning).
As Johnson describes it, early DEC meetings were occupied with sharing the members' enjoyment of books, authors, and occasional parties. He also recalls no politics in DEC's early history, "largely, I think, because we were all getting to know each other. Also, at that point there was nothing to fight about, no club dues, no executive power, no magazine, and no fully organized club activities."
At this point, and for some time to come, DEC was the only club in Calgary. Very much of what follows relates to DEC or its remnants. Reportedly, its interests were mainly partying, dancing, movie outings, and politicking.
DEC's low level of activity discouraged would-be members, who complained "but they don't do anything". For a while they produced Duodec, the clubzine, and Duodec, the fictionzine. Steve Pikov (of Calgary) writes that Duodec was not available for trade, but was sold to club members only. (This was not standard fanzine practice, but many fictionzines do likewise.) However, Steve Forty says DEC did trade with BCSFAzine.
Lexie Pakulak has the impression that DEC did not seek members, and SF readers who wanted a group to get into were either not attracted, or were actually expelled from DEC if they did not fit in and did not try to find each other outside DEC. Pakulak also thought DEC members were fairly isolated from out-of-town fandom, but Steve Johnson disputes this. He reports that DEC was quite in touch with fandom out of town, at least in Edmonton; that a contingent attended V-Con 7 in Vancouver, and it coloured their idea of a good con - "strong programming, diversity of fandom, an 'active' con model [always something going on]." At NonCon II, he writes, 'reality struck': "Cons can be dull!"
Perhaps DEC was in fact a fandom unto itself. I suspect that it would not have mattered much, except that DEC met the NonCon SF Society.
At about this time, some members of ESFCAS (in Edmonton) were thinking of finding, or forming, a local fandom in Calgary, with whom to trade NonCon back and forth. NonCon, as described earlier, was a medium-sized October con, originally averaging up to 500 members, intended to be a rotating regional convention. The first three NonCons were held in Edmonton; subsequently it was traded among different fan groups throughout Alberta.
The NonCon SF Society (separate from the NonCon committees) was set up under the Societies Act of Alberta. More than anything else this was to obtain financial protection for the NonCon committees. The Society is organized with the ostensible object of promoting awareness and appreciation of SF and related arts, for example by holding an annual convention. The Society was required to render a financial statement annually to the Province of Alberta, listing each newly elected board of directors.
In 1979, members of UBCSFS included Lance Munro (later a BCSFA regular), Richard Bartrop (later an artist in Calgary, appearing at various Con-Versions), and Offer Kuban. Bartrop, Kuban and others founded Horizons magazine in 1979 as a monthly forum for the University members' fiction. In 1980, the name became Horizons SF.
1979: The Rest of Vancouver Fandom
V-Con 7 (1979) at Gage featured Jack Vance as GoH, with Mike Bailey as chair, and made a profit.
The Elron Awards were presented by Ed Beauregard this year:
Bailey says he kept a tight rein on things, but, as usual heretofore, he couldn't determine where the bar money went! He suggested a ticket system, so that the bar sales could be inventoried, but was vetoed. Up till then, the bar had never made more than $200, which didn't tally with the amount of liquor served, or with the markup. (A ticket system was in use by V-Con 13.) Ed Beauregard says that "the committee was somewhat short-handed, partly because of the residue of previous feuds and the number of people who wouldn't work with Mike."
The most memorable result of V-Con 7 (from the convention organizing viewpoint) is that we were kicked out of Gage. This was largely due to an incident on the Saturday night of the convention. The Gage convention co-ordinator came into the bar (which was in the same room as at V-Con 13), to complain to Mike about the behaviour of some convention members. In his usual offhand, patronizing manner, Mike pointed out that what these people did on their own time outside scheduled programming rooms was no concern of his. This, though technically true, was not a wise reply.
There was a Westercon bid under way at the time, for Westercon 34. Becky Bennett (now Becky Thomson) was chairing the bid, although it looked for a while like I might be shanghaied into chairing the convention (something I had previously successfully avoided). The week before we went to San Francisco to bid for the convention, our booking at U.B.C. was cancelled, and we were informed that we were no longer welcome there unless we were to book the entire Gage facility (including all accommodation rooms). I scurried around to find another hotel, eventually settling on the Holiday Inn Harbourside (where V-Con 9 would be held), but the damage to our bid was too great, and we lost by a considerable margin. Following that, I declared in BCAPA that I would oppose any further efforts to bid for Westercons or any other outside rotating conventions. When David George's Westercon bid came up in 1982, I carried through on that.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
(It may be of interest to explain here something about Westercon bidding procedure. Like Worldcons, Westercon sites are selected two years in advance of being held, and bids start promoting their site and soliciting support at least a year before that. Consequently, the Vancouver in '89 bid came up for site selection in 1987, and the '86 bid in 1984.)
Steve Forty remarks that by about this time, BCSFAzine, BCAPA and VANAPA had been printed on the BCSFA Gestetner machine, but the machines have always been available to other BCSFAns to print their own zines on. Steve started running into the psychology that people came to him to print their material, for them; he put a stop to that.
1979 was also the year when Susan Wood edited Language of the Night, collected essays on SF and writing by Ursula K. LeGuin. Jerry Kaufman writes in The Best of Susan Wood that, about this time, Susan may have stood on the edge of professional SF editing. She did extensive work, as well, on Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Amazons anthology.
Vaughn Fraser published his last Fantarama in 1979.
1979 was a successful year for ESFCAS, to judge from Neology #5:1's editorial. The club had a new constitution, a 750-volume SF/fantasy library, and was in the black (to three figures). Regular meetings were held in the best location to date (the Henry Marshall Tory building), various (if fewer) parties occurred, and several marriages took place. On the out-of-town front, the "Cattlefarm Galactica" tape (produced by Eric Tilbrook of DEC in Calgary) was popular everywhere that fans heard it.
What Was Going On in Edmonton
NonCon II was held in the Edmonton Inn that October, and featured GoH Gordon R. Dickson, and FanGoH Eli Cohen. (The chair was Lorna Toolis, secretary was Diane Walton-LeBlanc, and treasurer was Rosanne Charest.) NonCon II was a successful con in several senses, drawing 340 people, making a 3-figure profit, and getting reasonably good media coverage.
A strong Calgary contingent lobbied to hold NonCon 4 in their city. Michael Hall claims that Robert Runté decided a long time before that Calgarians should hold a NonCon, and pushed them.
The NonCon Bible
Ron Gillies (now a librarian in Lloydminster) put together a preliminary procedures manual for the benefit of the NonCon SF Society. I am told that he swore up and down this wasn't Scripture and shouldn't be treated as such. Naturally, of course, his notes became known as the "NonCon Bible".
I have at least part of the materials that went into the “NonCon Bible”: they were mostly drawn on the NonCon Society constitution, and on Robert's Rules of Order. Rather than describing the fundamentals that should apply to running any convention, or NonCon, the emphasis was on describing the duties of Chairs, Treasurers, Secretaries, etc., and procedural bumph relating to the NonCon Society, or to subsidiary committees set up to execute some NonCon activities.
Maybe there's more material somewhere that I haven't located. I tried again in fall 1998 to contact Deloris Booker, another ESFCAS veteran now living in Red Deer; no response.
Enter Laughing (Victoria)
I entered SFAV in 1979 or 1980, a few years after I entered the University of Victoria. SFAV in the late 70's was a group of 20, maybe 30 fans, ranging from high-school to college age, who held small, informal meetings (10 to 12 people on the average) in members' homes. So I tended to think of fans as twentysomething, college-age, with at least some undergraduate education.
They barely had any visible activities until Up the Tubes was published in June and July of 1978 (edited by Stan Hyde, and basically a solo effort). A piece on Torcon 2 (1973), by Murray Greig, was originally scheduled for Up the Tubes, but later appeared in a Victoria paper. (Murray Greig has since become a sportswriter.) When I joined SFAV, about 1979, the Victoria fan groups seemed to be joined by a sort of collegiality; there may have been no more than 50 or so members in all the clubs together, many members held dual memberships, and several executives, I believe, even served in more than one club at once.
Things looked different, and more divisive, to my friend Bernie Klassen. But we'll get to that, in 1980.
At this point I don't think I, or most other members, had heard much about out-of-town fandom. It was out there, but ungetatable; and we never heard of Susan Wood, the Derelicts, or the famous fanzines of yesteryear. (Stan Hyde was exceptional in becoming one of Susan Wood's students, when he studied at U.B.C.) My own first inklings came when I pored over all the trade zines in SFAV’s club library. I tried to get other members interested. (This never worked.)
Karl Johanson joined the UFCST in 1979, upon seeing a Star Trek mall display (advertised on the radio). Thus entered the Johanson Clan, including Karl, his sister Paula, and by extension their friends Bernie Klassen, Bev Cooke and Al Hargreaves. The Johansons (mère, père and their children) were the kind of family who sort of adopt everyone else.
In 1979, the UFCST had 30 - 50 members (or 25 - 30 by Bernie Klassen's estimate, as of 1980). Karl writes that he participated in quite a number of UFCST activities with Bernie (e.g. editing Trekkada) and graphic artist Dan Cawsey (e.g. almost finishing a float for the Victoria Day Parade), and the whole "Johanson Clan" that soon formed (e.g., inter alia, the making of Dawn of the Living Socks). The Johanson siblings, their spouses and their friends comprised what became the "Old Guard" in Victoria fandom.
... in (SFAV's) desperate search to discover what a science fiction club was supposed to do, the fanzine was again suggested as a way of giving the club direction ...
By this time, two attempts at clubzines had gone down the tubes, so to speak. In 1978, a group of active fans had joined the club ... among them were Gary Harper, Dixie Sackett, Garth Spencer, David Thomson and Paul Delaney. As well, long-time members of the club, like Lynne Fonseca, Linda Thompson, Geoffrey Edwards, and myself were anxious to do more than just get together for movies, cons, and meetings.
(Stan Hyde, "Up the Tube?", Aug. 1983)
In 1979, the memory of Up the Tubes, plus a summer surge in membership, motivated a new zine: From the Ashes, a monthly dittoed newsletter. FTA was followed in November by Phoenix, a more genzine-style quarterly (also dittoed at the University of Victoria). Gary Harper edited both SFAV zines until the end of 1980; Paul Delaney, a UVic astronomy character and a fannish dynamo from Australia, took them over in February 1981. A new four-member executive took over FTA in May, while Dave Thomson edited Phoenix.
Another activity, in 1980, was a telephone/radio interview, arranged with Jack Williamson, Michael Coney (an SF writer living in Sidney, up north on the Island), Julian Reid of Victoria, and Joe (The Forever War) Haldeman.
After Paul Delaney joined SFAV and the local Star Trek club, SFAV became as active as it ever did, became something more than a social club with an SF focus. Delaney became an important local organizer, the moving force behind the zines, the regular events, and the liaison with the convalescent children at the Queen Alexandra Solarium. He was probably the driving force behind Victoria's two minicons.
Delaney told me in the winter of 1984-85 that the SFAV executive at this time tried to act as a rudder, more than anything; taking care of business, managing the club account and setting meeting times; and they sought to accomplish the club's functions without overstructuring it. (The UFCST had reacted to the Middlemiss affair by trying to set up a constitution safeguarding against EVERYTHING, which effectively strangulated the young club.)
Well, SFAV seemed to go to the opposite extreme, total disorganization or apathy. About this time, I had read somewhere that most offices or non-profit enterprises seem to depend on one overworked person (often a feisty, type-A-personality woman) to accomplish most things. I had seen this in action at The Martlet, the student paper at UVic. Later, I thought Paul Delaney was the active, overworked person who got things done in SFAV. So much was to the good. But he seemed to take responsibility for all of SFAV's initiatives. Other members then apparently became dependent on him, both to think up activities and carry them out. At any rate, they went along with his proposals.
Although SFAV members were encouraged to participate in activities, generally they didn't. It appeared to me that Paul could not delegate effectively; either that, or else other SFAVians were not really into organized activities ... such as the radio SF writers’ discussion.
After he married Lynne Fonseca, Paul and Lynne moved to Pinawa, Manitoba. I have since recently seen Paul's face on "Space: The Imagination Station" interviews; he is now an astronomer at York University.
In 1979, Taral Wayne began sponsoring Torques (alternative conventions) in Toronto.
There was a little renaissance [in OSFiC] around 78 or 79, when a number of new people joined. Torque, though not an OSFiC con, nevertheless drew on the new recruitment for committee members. The shot in the arm lasted only a little while. Ironically, I was the last secretary ..."
(Taral Wayne, June-Sept. 1993, personal communication)
(to be continued)