CANOLA TIMELINE

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SEEDS OF OPPORTUNITY

An ancient oilseed travels to
Canada in a handkerchief and flourishes.

The ancestor of canola was rapeseed, an oilseed grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe. Emigrants to Canada began growing rapeseed on a small scale in the 1930s. Its popularity grew during World War II as Canada rushed to meet the urgent demand for industrial lubricants.

IN PURSUIT OF A HEALTHIER OILSEED

Canada looks for a new food crop
with a more desirable composition.

After WWII, Canada had two pressing needs – a wider range of crops for farmers to grow and a bigger supply of edible oil. Scientists thought rapeseed could be the answer, if they could breed out erucic acid and glucosinolates. An era of intense innovation began, led by Dr. Keith Downey and Dr. Baldur Stefansson, Canada’s two legendary “Fathers of Canola.”

THE ROAD TO “DOUBLE LOW”

Better oil + better meal = the crop we know as canola.

By 1970, erucic acid content had dramatically improved and demand was growing. However, use was still limited by glucosinolate levels in the meal. By the end of the decade, breeders had overcome this challenge. The first low erucic/low glucosinolate varieties were commercialized, and canola was officially here.

THE WORLD DISCOVERS CANOLA

Research and marketing increase the
value of Canada’s new oilseed.

By the 1980s, science was advancing not just the quality of canola, but also the world’s acceptance. Now research focused on a new goal – revealing canola’s many advantages for human health, food preparation, shelf stability and animal diets – the strong foundation for a new global brand.

INNOVATION TAKES ROOT

Advances in breeding technology create an exciting era of progress.

As a new millennium neared, genetic innovation created a surge in new varieties that were higher-yielding, easier to grow and packed with end-user benefits. Production boomed with the growth of global demand and new uses for canola.

CANOLA TODAY AND BEYOND

A $19 billion industry, creating jobs for 200,000+ Canadians

Today canola is the third most important edible oilseed in the world and one of Canada’s most profitable crops. This remarkable transformation is the result of strong partnership throughout the value chain. With continued innovation and risk management, canola’s future will be just as bright.

TOMORROW

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New frontiers for canola

2016

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Yields reach a record high

2015

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A united vision for innovation

2014

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New target: 52 by 2025

2013

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Production reaches 18 MMT

2012

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Continued improvements in oil profile

2010

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Canola/Flax Science Cluster

2010

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Industry and government embark on market access partnership

2009

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Renewed commitment to research and innovation

2007

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Processing capacity burgeons

2007

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USDA qualified health claim

2006

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Canola health research intensifies

2004

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First high-oleic, high stability canola introduced

2003

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Biodiesel opportunities emerge

2003

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Industry begins setting targets for growth

2002

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First B. juncea varieties introduced

1995

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First GM canola varieties registered

1995

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First Canadian variety with high blackleg resistance

1993

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Commercial food companies embrace canola oil

1991

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Canola options traded

1990

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First Canola Production Centres open on the Prairies

1989

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First hybrid canola variety registered & first HEAR variety released

1987

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First high-stability canola registered

1987

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Growing recognition as a healthier culinary oil

1986

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Canola trademark amended

1985

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GRAS opens door to U.S. market

1984

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First herbicide tolerant canola registered

1980

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The Canola Council of Canada arrives

1978

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First major booklet on oil quality published

1978

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CANOLA officially named

1977

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First double-low B. rapa variety registered

1974

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First double-low variety registered

1973

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Double-low trials begin

1967

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Low glucosinolate seed identified

1967

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New testing method accelerates research

1973

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Low-erucic rapeseed reigns

1970

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Health Canada calls for switch to low-erucic varieties

1967

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Rapeseed Association of Canada established

1965

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Rapeseed acreage exceeds one million acres

1963

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Futures market for rapeseed established

1960

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First identification of low-erucic trait and transfer to B. napus

1958

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New discoveries modernize plant breeding

1957

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Downey and Stefansson move into oilseed research

1954

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First new rapeseed variety introduced in Canada

1948

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Production peaks then plummets

1946

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B. rapa is registered

1945

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First Prairie crushing facility opens

1943

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Field production begins

1942

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Interest grows after WWII creates urgent demand for oil

1936

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Polish immigrants grow rapeseed in Canada for the first time

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  • I would like to talk about the unsung heroes in the industry,...

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    Marcus Weidler
  • The first time we grew canola on our farm was probably about...

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    Dale Leftwich
  • Keith Downey, one of the fathers of canola, is one of the...

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    Brett Halstead
  • Canola: Part of Today’s Lifestyle This 1993 Canola Council commercial was used...

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    Canola Council
  • Canola: Good for Canada, Good for You This 1993 Canola Council public...

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    Canola Council
  • 1995 Canola Exporter Video Produced by the Canola Council of Canadian canola...

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    Canola Council

LEADERSHIP HISTORY

A Look through 50 years of leadership

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