The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals began in the 1930s as The Canadian Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals. It was founded by Charles D. Niven, a Scottish physicist living in Ottawa. He recruited members of humane societies from across Canada, including Clara Van Steenwyk of British Columbia. At that time, the goal of the group was to promote humanely-obtained furs and to develop a humane trap to replace the common leg-hold trap.
In post-war Canada, Niven and his group desired a clearer mandate for themselves and, in Ontario, became the Canadian Association for Humane Trapping 1953. The B.C. core chose to retain the original name and under the leadership of politician Edward Ernest Winch (photographed above), became The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (The Fur-Bearers) in 1944. The Association was was incorporated as a Society under the “Societies Act” on February 7th, 1953. Van Steenwyk was a founding member and remained one until her death.
The Fur-Bearers provided financial assistance to Frank Conibear when he developed his body gripping trap as early signs showed it to be an effective quick kill trap. The patent was later sold to an American corporation.
In the 1970s, when evidence of non-target animals being caught in the Conibear traps was shown to The Fur-Bearers leadership, they withdrew their support. At this time, long-time Directors/President(s) George and Bunty Clements joined the Society and began to steer the organization away from “humane trapping”, and began to oppose the commercial fur industry as a whole. The Clements believed (and actively promoted) that there is no such thing as a “humane” trap. They believed that the trapping and the killing of wildlife for the fashion fur trade was inherently cruel and should be stopped entirely.
In 1999, due to our advocacy work, our charitable status was annulled by Revenue Canada (now Canada Revenue Agency, CRA).
In 2018, a court decision would remove the limit on advocacy and The Fur-Bearers regained our charitable status in the fall of 2020.
2010 – Present, logo
1975 – “Canada’s Shame”, narrated by Beachcombers TV personality, Bruno Gerussi.
1980 – The Shame and The Shame, narrated by Beachcombers TV personality, Bruno Gerussi.
1982 – Cry from the Wild, narrated by famous Canadian, Dr. David Suzuki.
1986 – “Time to Care”, narrated by Loretta Swit, actress from the TV show, M*A*S*H.
1990 – “America’s Shame”, narrated by Academy Award winner, Kim Basinger.
1995 – “Shameful Scheme”, voice over by Dana Still.
2001 – “Crying Shame”, voice over by Ross Huguet.
2003 – Beaver and Muskrat anti-trapping video is released.
2006 – “Silent Screams, Dogs and Cats of the Fur Trade”.
Photo: Long-time volunteers, Bunty and George Clements.
Learn more in our eBook, The Defenders: The history of The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.