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50 Years of EXFOR History

December 1, 2007  By Pulp & Paper Canada

In the days following PaperWeek International 2007, preparations for the 50th anniversary of the EXFOR tradeshow began. Several ideas for a slogan were suggested, including 50 Years of Excellence, 50 …

In the days following PaperWeek International 2007, preparations for the 50th anniversary of the EXFOR tradeshow began. Several ideas for a slogan were suggested, including 50 Years of Excellence, 50 Years of Innovation and Looking Back and Moving Forward. During the process of sharing ideas, we realized that EXFOR always strives not only to inform, but also to help prepare participants for the future. “A Bridge to the Future” was chosen as the official slogan and theme for EXFOR 2008 and PaperWeek International — the 50th anniversary of EXFOR, which focuses on how the Pulp and Paper Technical Institute of Canada (PAPTAC), EXFOR and PaperWeek International will lead the industry into the future.

Before looking to the future and where EXFOR and PaperWeek International are going, it is important to recount EXFOR’s milestones and the importance of PAPTAC’s Sustaining Members, who represent the supply sector within the association.


When the Technical Section of CPPA (now PAPTAC) was founded by Dr. John S. Bates in 1915, the first Executive Council decided that the Section would not be a closed professional society. Supervisors and operators were welcome to join the Association, as were suppliers and consultants. While their role within the association was minimal for many years, several supplier-members were interested in providing Annual Meeting delegates with the opportunity to see the latest products they had been working on. In 1959, the first official Products Display, with a total of 17 exhibitors, was held when the Annual Meeting moved to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. In 1960, the Chairman’s report briefly mentioned the tradeshow and described how the suppliers brought full-sized and scale models of equipment to the display and that their involvement in the technical sessions enhanced the overall Annual Meeting program. In 1961, a total of 59 Sustaining Members participated in the exhibit and in 1963 the Association proceedings included the first recorded list of exhibitors. The 25th Anniversary of the products exhibition was held in 1983, with a total of 106 exhibitors and 2209 visitors.

As the Annual Meeting and Products Display continued to grow, it could no longer be housed at the Queen Elizabeth hotel. When a new venue became available, the decision was made that in 1985 the Technical Section would move its annual event to the Palais des Congrs — Montral’s Convention Centre. While the move initially faced some opposition, it allowed the tradeshow to expand from roughly 100 to 232 exhibitors and was renamed EXFOR. When the Technical Section celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1989, 325 Sustaining Members participated in EXFOR. In 1990, Mini-EXFOR was introduced — a tabletop type exhibit that allowed smaller companies within the industry to test the waters at EXFOR before joining the association and the exhibit as Sustaining Members.

In the years at the Palais des Congrs, the exhibition continued to grow — as did the convention centre. EXFOR survived the Palais’ expansion from 1999 until 2002. In 2003 there were over 400 EXFOR and Mini-EXFOR exhibitors and in 2005, the entire exhibit moved to the 2nd floor exhibit hall. It is still recognized worldwide as one of the largest annual tradeshows serving the pulp and paper industry.

Looking forward, it may seem that the “Bridge to the Future” leading us down an unknown path. With rising costs, a high Canadian currency, and limited investment in the domestic industry, it is difficult to predict where we will be in 50 years. Nevertheless, PAPTAC and the EXFOR tradeshow are committed to providing value to members and exhibitors. Many changes are being implemented for the 50th Anniversary, including a condensed 2 1/2 day technical program and tradeshow, providing mill employees the opportunity to be at their mills at the beginning and end of the week. As well, all activities will be taking place within EXFOR, including the technical sessions and the new business track. A welcoming reception and lunches are provided for all delegates and exhibitors, creating networking opportunities and freeing up evenings for business and client events.

We look forward to seeing you in Montral in February. If you have any questions or if you are looking for further information on PAPTAC and EXFOR, please do not hesitate to contact us, or visit our website www.paptac.ca.

Andrea Borrelli is the assistant manager, exhibitions, for PAPTAC. You can contact her at 514-392-6961 or aborrelli@paptac.ca

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