MCAC originated thanks to a group of “Master Plumbers” who banded together in the major cities of Canada to form local Associations. In 1895, interested members of the trade gathered in Montreal and formed the National Association of Master Plumbers, Gas, Steam, and Hot Water Fitters of the Dominion of Canada. Since that time the Association has undergone several major reorganizations with accompanying name changes and new constitutions and bylaws.
Following the Association’s founding in 1895, the first Annual National Convention was held in Montreal in 1896 with Joseph La Marche serving as its elected President. Twenty-one delegates from fifteen leading Canadian cities attended. Subsequent annual meetings/conventions were held in major cities until 1914. During the period 1895-1914, a constitution and bylaws were approved and a large number of issues addressed.
By 1914, the association changed its name to the “Canadian Society of Domestic, Sanitary and Heating Engineers,” and printed a new constitution. However, as a result of deteriorating economic conditions in Canada; growing organizational problems associated with the status of the national Association acting as an executive body and the beginning of World War I, the national Association was placed in abeyance until the Association was reactivated at the request of the federal government in 1942.
In 1942, the Association was approached by the federal government’s Wartime Price and Trade Board, which suggested that an organization be formed for the welfare of the trade generally, and so that the government could approach contractors through an organization rather than individually. For the better part of two years, the Association under the strong leadership of Roy Belyea and Harry Weinraub, both of Toronto, together with Mr. L’Esperance and Charles Watson from Montreal, Garn Dobbs of Belleville and other serious-minded contractors, worked tirelessly to reorganize the national Association.
In 1943, the association, under the name of “The National Association of Master Plumbers and Heating and Cooling Contractors of Canada” was incorporated with Poy Belyea elected as its President. The head office was moved from Toronto to Montreal in 1944 and J.L. Bourbonniere was engaged as Secretary Manager. Issues addressed during these years included the rehabilitation of tradesmen who had served in the armed forces; the need for increased and improved training of apprentices to meet the need of increased construction activity anticipated following hostilities; the increasing use of plastic in plumbing goods; the development of sanitary codes in conjunction with the Minister of Health and the National Research Council; group insurance plans, and labour relations and marketing practices employed by manufacturers and wholesalers of plumbing products.
By 1946, a growing number of provincial associations employed Secretary Managers and together with a buoyant economy and the increasing demand for residential, commercial, and industrial construction, the Association flourished.
The Association’s head office was once again moved from Montreal to Toronto in 1948. By 1949 the Association included over 1400 of the most reputable plumbing and heating contractors in Canada which represented 85% of the total buying power of plumbing and heating material in Canada. In 1952, an assistant to the Secretary Manager was hired and an increasing number of issues were addressed such as bid-peddling, public relations and contract forms, and in 1956 the Association participated in a Royal Commission on Canada’s Economic Program. A Bid Depository was established in Toronto in 1956 which subsequently led to similar depositories being adopted across the country.
In 1958, the National Association underwent another name change, this time to “The Canadian Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada (CPMCA).”
In 1967, Stevenson & Kellog management consulting firm was engaged by the Association to study the Association’s organization in depth and to make appropriate recommendations. Clear objectives for the Association were developed together with numerous suggestions for meeting these objectives. These include: recognizing the autonomy and jurisdiction of provincial and local associations; providing a comprehensive information service to members; maintaining close liaisons with the appropriate federal government departments; coordinating and promoting the programs of provincial associations; supplying directly to members trade-related services which are economically feasible, and working closely with other national associations involved in construction matters. Over the next decade a resurgence of activity at the national and provincial levels took place.
By the early 1970s, Canada’s construction industry was in high gear, optimism abounded and the Association reacted with a move of the national office from Toronto to Ottawa in 1971. By 1972 a name change took place to reflect the all-embracing nature of the mechanical contractors’ responsibility in bidding the job. The new name was “Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada” (MCAC).
While the ’70s saw a continual increase in activity at national, provincial, and local levels following implementation of the Kellogg and Stevenson report, it also saw a weakening economy with high inflation and high interest rates. In the ’80s, issues turned to matters of survival such as the resolution of cash flow problems, productivity improvement and the shifting of responsibilities from design authorities and general contractors to the mechanical contractor. Personnel changes at the national office saw Hal Cillis, Executive Vice President, retire in December 1985; John Long, President, retire in October of 1986, and Brian Holmes succeed Long as President at that time.
The 90’s witnessed a changing of the guard with the introduction in March 1990 of Richard McKeagan who took the reins as President and Chief Operating Officer where he remains to this day. Through the 90’s and into the new millennium, the Association has engaged in the formation of the Canadian Mechanical Contracting Education Foundation (CMCEF), the Mechanical Service Contractors of Canada (MSCC) and spearheading the creation of the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC).