In 1957, Anne Meredith Barry, Pat Fairhead, Ron Bolt and other Toronto artists went in search of exhibition space. The United Steelworkers provided them with the space and materials to create a gallery at their Cecil Street headquarters. The first Toronto Co-operative Art Gallery, the Society of Co-operative Artists, was born. It became an important focus of the Toronto art scene and was maintained by volunteer exhibiting members.
In 1965, requiring larger exhibition space, the SCA moved to the Central YMCA on College Street and presented the Steelworkers Union with a mural as a symbol of its gratitude. The SCA broadened its vision from local to national in 1967.
The Society of Co-operative Artists received its Charter and non-profit status and became the Society of Canadian Artists (SCA). The gallery at the YMCA closed and an annual National Open Exhibition took its place. The SCA expanded its dedication to promoting Canadian visual arts across the country.