Accounting History

The need for accounting records goes back more than 5,300 years in the meticulous archives of former Egyptian bookkeepers who kept track of goods in royal stores. Historians believe that this holding of ancient documents was the basis of the invention of writing and numbers. However, the fathers of modern accounting are not the Egyptians but in fact the Italians!

 The Venetians more specifically, who sailed the high seas from the 14th to the 16th century invented double entry accounting.  Mathematician Luca Pacioli in 1494 published the world’s first printed book of accounts entitled The Accumulated Knowledge of Arithmetic, Geometry, Proportionality and Proportionality, in which he describes the use of double entry accounting used by Venetian merchants. Translated into several languages, it became the reference text and teaching tool for the next few hundred years. And as Charlie Munger says for the financial world this was one of the greatest inventions of all time!

In 1854, Queen Victoria created the CA profession after granting a Royal Charter to the Glasgow Institute of Accountants and paving the way for the modern and formal accounting profession. The first US national accounting firm was created in 1887. The accounting profession was recognized in 1896 with a law stipulating that the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation would only be given to those who had passed the state examinations and had three years of field experience. In 1902, a federal law of Canada incorporated the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, while the Certified General Accountants Association was founded in Montreal in 1908 and incorporated in 1913.

Business development in Montreal, the financial capital of Canada at the time was lead by the large fur-trading companies (NORTH WEST COMPANY, circa 1780-1821), forestry companies (Mossom Boyd and Company fd c1848). Diversification stimulated the emergence of banking (BANK OF MONTREAL, 1817), early manufacturing (Montreal Nail and Spike Works, 1839) and services (John Molson’s brewing, banking and steam businesses, circa 1810). Large demand for accounting departments, clerks etc., was created.

So much so that a management education department at McGill University in Montreal began in 1906. The Department of Commerce was established within the Faculty of Arts, offering “commercial courses to train people as accountants, clerks, and the like.” A Diploma of Commerce was awarded to students completing the two-year program.

In 1918 The Licentiate in Accountancy program was first offered at McGill, which later evolved into the Graduate Diploma in Public Accountancy.

Montreal continues to be a leader in the need for accountancy training in Canada today with institutions like ‘Accounting Courses Montreal ‘ supplying the need.

Sources: The Toronto Public Library, The Canadian Encyclopedia