The society was founded in Ottawa in the early 1950s and incorporated as a non-profit organization under the Canada Corporation Act on 9 January 1957 as the Canadian Association for Applied Spectroscopy. It was renamed and registered 31 May 1967 as The Spectroscopy Society of Canada - La Société de Spectroscopie du Canada. Most recently, in 2004, it was renamed the Canadian Society for Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy so as to encompass the full range of interests of its members. Since those early days, the Society has expanded to include representation from Atlantic Canada, BC Interior, Ottawa Valley, Quebec Province, Southern Ontario, Northern Ontario, Prairie Provinces, and Vancouver/Victoria. Throughout the year, programs of scientific and general interest are organized by the Local Sections for the educational benefit of members and the public at large. The Society organizes an annual scientific conference, the International Conference on Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy (ICASS). Workshops are usually offered in conjunction with ICASS.
CSASS has two major awards: the Gerhard Herzberg Award and the industry-sponsored Spectroscopy Award for distinguished achievement in spectroscopy. There is also the Burgener Research Graduate Student Travel Award for the best student to make an oral presentation during the opening plenary award session of ICASS. Local Sections of CSASS support local science fair programs by providing judges and awards to students.
A Newsletter is published three times a year and distributed electronically to members. CSASS can cooperate with other scientific societies and organizations. For example, CSASS and the Society for Applied Spectroscopy (USA) sometimes organize a tour speaker program. From time to time, other organizations collaborate with CSASS at the ICASS meeting. The annual membership fee supports CSASS activities, including awards and Local Section programs..