History of the FCN
It all started with a basic idea: to unite naturists across Canada and raise awareness of naturism to the general public. Those goals were the basis of an ongoing discussion between Doug and Helen Beckett and Petra Scheller, who were fellow campers at Glen Echo Park in the early 1980s.
At that time, there was no organization to serve as a united voice for Canadian naturists. Despite the need, the prospect of establishing one seemed daunting, especially since a previous organization with similar goals had folded a few years earlier. That was the Canadian Sunbathing Association. Formed in 1947, the group would endure internal conflicts, a schism between its east and west chapters and a name change, before finally disbanding in 1978.
Despite that, there was also reason for optimism. A new naturist organization that had formed in Quebec just a few years earlier, La Fédération québécoise de naturisme (FQN), was flourishing. In time the three campers from Glen Echo traveled to Montreal where they met with the FQN’s founder, Michel Vais, and discussed ideas for a national organization. Many of the ideas shared by Vais at that time helped the three to chart a course for a sustainable organization.
In 1985, Scheller and the Beckett’s were joined by several other volunteers to form a founding committee. As they continued to reach out to clubs and other organizations, they consulted with a lawyer regarding incorporation and drafted up a set of by-laws. Within a few months, they submitted an application to Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada for incorporation. Sometime later their application was approved in the form of Letters Patent, stamped with a date of March 17, 1986.
On August 23, 1986, the first Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) was convened. During this inaugural meeting, the By-laws were ratified and the first board of directors was elected. There were some notable reports as well, including one that reported a membership total of 119 members and another from Doug Beckett regarding the release of the first issue of the newsletter called “Going Natural”.
Petra Scheller and David Peippo promote the FCN and FQN at Glen Echo Park, 1987
In the years that followed, the Federation would continue to work toward its original goals to unite naturists from across Canada and raise awareness of naturism among the general public. Over time, this work would change and adapt with the times, beginning with dances at affiliated clubs and adult evening classes to hosting displays at community events, conducting media interviews and organizing an annual festival. The “Going Natural” newsletter grew into a magazine. The Federation would also establish an online presence, beginning with a website in the 1990s and eventually, outreach through social media.
In addition to its two founding goals, the Federation would broaden its objectives to include greater outreach and support for naturist clubs, as well as legal advocacy. Club support began by offering a new form of membership for clubs and other naturist-friendly businesses, along with the installation of a club liaison. Legal advocacy would take the form of government consultations, as well as support for naturist-related court cases.
As years rolled into decades, the founding board members, including Doug and Helen Beckett and Petra Scheller, eventually stepped down from their duties and were replaced by others. The park where the Federation got its start, Glen Echo Park, closed down in 2009. Though change is inevitable for any organization, the Federation of Canadian Naturists has continued to move forward. It has grown and adapted with the times through the ongoing dedication of its members. Through it all, the original vision established by the three fellow campers back in the 1980s has endured.
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