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 sections in Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto (Southern Ontario), Edmonton 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 Smiths Detection Spectroscopy Award for distinguished achievement in spectroscopy. There is also an award for the best student paper at the ICASS conference. Local Sections of CSASS support local science fair programs by providing judges and awards to students.
A Newsletter is published twice a year and distributed to members. CSASS cooperates with other scientific societies and organizations. For example, CSASS and the Society for Applied Spectroscopy (USA) 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. The Smiths Detection Spectroscopy Award is covered by corporate sponsorship. Library subscriptions, corporate support, advertizing, and a grant from CSASS supports the cost of publishing the journal.