The Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) was founded in Ottawa in 1941 in response to the federal government's wartime plan to regulate automobile dealerships. At the time, dealers who financed their own sales paid a premium to cover occasional losses. The government wanted to eliminate the premium, so dealers from across the country mobilized to protest. The campaign to have Ottawa drop the changes was successful, and a new national association was born.

On December 5, 1941, 40 directors attended the first board meeting, which was held at Ottawa's Chateau Laurier. By 1944, 585 delegates representing 53 dealer associations attended the annual meeting. By 1948 there were over 1,000 delegates.

Following the war, the Association's scope grew and while CADA continued to be the dealers' voice in Ottawa, we took on the role of dealer champion with manufacturers. We also took on other issues, such as paving the Trans-Canada Highway. In the 1950s, we fought discriminatory credit restrictions and provided the first Dealer Services.

By the 1970s and 1980s CADA was involved in a wide variety of roles and was also an advisor to the government on Free Trade.