Before Movember encouraged men to grow mustaches and people donned pink in support of breast cancer research, Daffodil Month heartened people to buy the perky yellow blooms to raise money for cancer research.

The Canadian Cancer Society is celebrating 60 years of holding annual Daffodil Month events to raise money and awareness for cancer research.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, Daffodil Month is one of the longest running Canadian fundraising traditions and involves thousands of volunteers who sell freshly cut daffodils and lapel pins both door-to-door and at various locations.

In light of the anniversary, here are some facts you may not have known about Daffodil Month:

Why the daffodil?

In the 1950s, afternoon TREND (standing for treatment, research, education, needs of patients and diagnosis) teas were held by Canadian Cancer Society volunteers to raise money for cancer research. A particular TREND tea held one April saw a group of volunteers decorate tables using bright yellow daffodils, promoting a cheery and hopeful mood.

The TREND teas then became known as daffodil teas.

In 1954, a daffodil tea was hosted by Lady Flora Eaton at the Eaton’s store in Toronto and was attended by 700 women. A few years later, in 1957, the Canadian Cancer Society had their first official daffodil fundraiser leading them to continue to sell the perky, yellow flower.

The Canadian Cancer Society officially adopted the bloom as its symbol and logo in the year 2000.

Where do the daffodils come from?

Daffodils are generally brought in from various cities in British Columbia where the growing season starts earlier than Ontario. In 1957, for the first fundraiser, an anonymous donor paid 5,000 for enough blooms to be flown in to Ontario.

Since then, blooms have been driven in refrigerated trucks and transported on trains to various provinces throughout the country. Since 1965, Canadian Pacific Railway ships millions of daffodil blooms for free from British Columbia to Montreal.

The journey to each province, however, has not been without some issues.

In 1969, a group of volunteers in Montreal discovered the daffodils had been ruined by carbon monoxide fumes and cold air drafts after being stored in the Molson brewery garages.

In 1972, a truck transporting daffodils from Victoria to Calgary went up in flames. And in 1985, daffodils destined for Toronto froze along the way.

How many blooms are sold?

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, Quebec sells more fresh daffodils than any other province with about two million blooms sold every year. During some years, more than five million blooms have been shipped to various places in Ontario.

Since 1994, the annual Daffodil Ball in Montreal has raised more than $30 million.

A recent partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society and Loblaw Companies has brought in more than $500,000 from Ontario, Atlantic Canada, B.C., the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Where does the money go?

Since 1957, donors have given $1.4 billion to the Canadian Cancer Society as a way to fund critical cancer research, education and advocacy.

Here are just some of the breakthroughs money from the CCS has funded:

  • In 1958, Dr. Robert Noble and Dr. Charles Beer discovered a drug, vinblastine, that has improved outcomes for children diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • In 2011, a clinical trial that tested four sisters from Manitoba whose mother had died of breast cancer found that the drug exemestane could reduce the risk of breast cancer by 65 per cent
  • In the early 1990s, Dr. Eduardo Franco contributing to the finding that the human papilloma virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer which then led to the development of the HPV vaccine