We are 40 years young!

This year marks another important milestone for the CanGift. It was 40 years ago that Alan J. Browne raised the idea of creating an association with a small group of gift wholesalers meeting over dinner in Toronto. CanGift was given official designation as an association with 20 members the next year.

From these humble beginnings, the association has grown to approximately 1,200 members today and has become the unifying voice of Canada’s diverse and dynamic giftware industry. 

1976 was a monumental year; a year that forever changed the way we lived. What else happened in 1976?

  • Founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created Apple Computer
  • The CN Tower opens as the tallest freestanding structure in the world
  • Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup against the Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pop group ABBA is Sweden's most profitable corporation
  • Rocky wins the Best Film Oscar
  • Canada’s prime minister is the Right Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau
  • Jimmy Carter is elected president of the United States
  • Montreal hosts the Summer Olympics
  • Founder Dame Anita Roddick opens the first Body Shop store in Brighton, England
  • The Timbit is introduced at Tim Horton’s
  • Most popular Christmas toy: Stretch Armstrong
  • The Toronto Blue Jays were formed
  • The Eagles were awarded the first Platinum Record (ever) for Their Greatest Hits

As evidenced in some of the photos we recently found in our archives, the past 40 years has brought much change to the association:


Exhibitor: The Orange Crate
Exhibitor: Design Motivation
Exhibitor: Waterford-Wedgwood
Exhibitor: Gunther Mele Limited
Buyers’ Lounge
Exhibitor: Hilborn Pottery Design Inc.
Exhibitor: Danesco
Exhibitor: Innovation Giftware
Showcase Canada, 1991
Mike Tott of Gourmet Du Village accepts the Best Exhibitor Award from CGTA President Graham Wilkinson, 1989
CGTA President Vera Turley presenting the Allan J. Browne Award to Jim Gregson, Norm Rothschild and Ritchie Lisser, 1991
Danis Biggs and Frank Vrbanatz accept the Alan J. Browne Award from Craig Cameron, 1989
Alan Stark of William Ashley China presented with Retailer of the Year Award, 1986

A special thank you to CGTA founders, we would not exist today without the efforts of these trailblazers: Allan John Browne, Max Hannes Bilek, Gary Laird Dean, Charles Graham Leitch, Gerald Francis Wayne Simons, Herby Earl Rosove, John Louis Walter, John Campbell Houston, Douglas Michael King, Richmond William Lisser, Norman Frederic Smith, John Keith Mowling, John Robertson, John Napier Magill, Donovan Jackson Blakeman and H. Gordon Norsworthy.