The history of the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO) is inextricably tied to the history of Canada’s international development program.
In 1960, the federal government set up the External Aid Office, forerunner of today’s Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), to co-ordinate efforts in the field of foreign aid. Most aid flowed from government to government. Much of it seemed like water poured into sand, vanishing without trace, doing little good to the intended recipients.
In 1966, Maurice Strong became head of External Aid. He sought to make more effective use of Canada’s aid dollars and to involve more ordinary Canadians in the worldwide struggle against poverty.
Strong set up a non-governmental division in his office and asked his friend Dr. John Magwood, a Toronto lawyer, to explore ways of encouraging companies to release managers and professionals for short-term assignments in developing nations.
In 1967, Fraser "Scotty" Bruce, president of Alcan, suggested that a pool of retired executives and professionals be created to help developing countries.
And so CESO came into being as a volunteer organization for retired and semi-retired Canadian men and women.
CESO’s letters patent of Dec. 2, 1967, stated that the new body would "promote and assist the economic and social growth and well-being of the peoples of the world…"
This would be done "through the provision of consultants, having no private or business interest in the services which they render…"
In 1969, CESO Aboriginal Services was launched to match the volunteers with the needs of its clients and partners – Aboriginal people, businesses and communities seeking greater self-sufficiency and growth.