Couchiching Conference is the usual name for the annual conference held at Geneva Park on Lake Couchiching near Orillia, Ontario, by the Canadian Institute on Public Affairs (founded in 1932 by the YMCA National Council as an educational body for the critical discussion of national and international issues). The conferences, ordinarily held in August, quickly became a regular gathering place for those interested in the intelligent discussion of Canadian concerns. During the GREAT DEPRESSION
the conference focus was on such issues as social reform, the state of the economy and the darkening world scene, and during WWII much attention was paid to reconstruction planning. In 1947 the possibility of a military alliance of North Atlantic nations (later NATO
) was first raised in an address there by Escott REID
of the Department of External Affairs (now FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE
). More recently, Couchiching's topics have ranged widely through politics and international affairs, technology and other subjects.