Hall of fame!

“Canadian Accounting Hall of Fame selects twelve inaugural inductees” reported Canadian Accountant earlier this year

Here are the highlights:

  • Twelve accountants and accounting academics from past and present have been named as the inaugural inductees of the Canadian Accounting Hall of Fame (CAHF). The list includes some historic names in Canadian business as well as notable omissions among both “founders of the profession” and “leaders of the profession.” 
  • Conceived as “a curated biographical history of accounting in Canada,” the CAHF and its nominations process is overseen by a director, managing director, and a board of electors comprising eight current members. While the nominations and elections process of the CAHF are confidential, the nominations criteria is available online. CAHF has helpfully included biographies of the twelve inaugural inductees
    • Samuel J. Broad, Gerald A. Feltham, Howard I. Ross, and Ross M. Skinner
    • Founders of the Profession: E. R. C. Clarkson, Gordon H. Cowperthwaite, George Edwards, and Philip S. Ross
    • Leaders of the ProfessionDouglas N. Baker, Gertrude Mulcahy, William R. Scott, and Dan A. Simunic
  • While the list features both accounting professionals and accounting academics, some themes emerge that, while they may reflect the historic reality of accounting as a “traditionally male profession,” may also reflect a reluctance to embrace contemporary themes of gender and ethnic inclusivity. All twelve of the inductees are white and all but one of the inductees, Gertrude “Gert” Mulcahy, are male.

Few active Canadian accountants will have even an indirect connection with any of these luminaries. In my case, the closest is Ross Skinner – I worked at the Canadian national accounting office of Ernst & Young in the years following his retirement, when his name was regularly and respectfully spoken by those who’d known him. Among Skinner’s achievements was the “influential 1972 book Accounting Principles: A Canadian Viewpoint…(which) led to the development of a Canadian framework for Canadian accounting standards.” In other words, I’m only one link removed from an era that predates the old stuff that IFRS replaced. I’m surprised I’m still breathing…

Anyway, as stated above, much surrounding the process is confidential for now. However, via a mole that I have within the organization (he has a secret hideaway in the basement, near to where they keep the old adding machines) I was able at least to uncover this much – a selection of the rejected nominees for the Canadian Accounting Hall of Fame (at least, that is, rejected from the initial batch – fans and advocates should retain hope of future recognition):

  • Philip Whipler Notable for his advocacy of an “oral tradition” whereby accounting standards should never be written down, but only communicated directly from one expert to another, ideally in a hushed whisper. Whipler believed that the “crudity” of printed matter would only erode the beauty that he perceived in accounting and prevent it from reaching its full spiritual possibilities. While Whipler made some modest progress on establishing an accounting network based on these principles, his vision was undermined by, among other things, the conflicting memories of the experts regarding what had been decided on key points, and their propensity to get drunk and yell out the standards for all the world to hear and misuse.
  • Elijah McKay Advocates for his induction rely less on his thin professional achievements than on his claim to have slept with 10,300 women, all supposedly meticulously recorded and accounted for. However, any attempt to audit McKay’s records has collapsed under the weight of the copious material misstatements, including rampant use of egregiously adjusted non-GAAP measures.
  • Ferris Fripp Revered in some circles for his Nostradamus-like prediction, as far back as 1934, that Canada would one day adopt a body of international accounting standards. Fripp never wavered from this conviction, even as most of his other predictions (for instance, that Canada would become the nucleus of a global super-race that would conquer the world by the late 1950s, or that he himself would morph into pure energy before the age of 55) failed to materialize.
  • Margaret “Marge” Covert A devoted “naturist” who believed that accountancy is best practiced in the nude, the better to forge the connection between the practitioner and his or her subject matter. While Covert’s actual accountancy skills were said to be mediocre, her firm’s brochures were best-sellers.
  • Mansard Jones Famous for the paper, discovered after his death, in which he wrote: “I have discovered a truly remarkable breakthrough in double entry which this margin is too small to contain.” Labeled as “Jones’ last theorem,” his statement set off a near-century of frenzied efforts to replicate this remarkable breakthrough. Eventually, however, the competition petered out, with a consensus taking shape that Jones was merely “full of shit.”

Well, that was pretty great stuff, wasn’t it? You know, I’d be happy if my own future case for entering the Canadian Accounting Hall of Fame rested entirely on their assessment of this blog post. Happy New Year!

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author

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