To mark the 50th anniversary of the Centre d'études nordiques (CEN: Centre for Northern Studies), this commentary presents a history of CEN over the last 5 decades. We first address the socio-political context at the time that CEN was founded and the development of the centre over the first two decades of its existence, a period of emerging national and international interest in northern research. The subsequent evolution of CEN in terms of its research orientation is then described, showing the relationship with research priorities in Canada and Quebec over this period. The history of CEN underscores the ongoing importance of maintaining and developing field and laboratory infrastructure over the long term for research and training. This commentary also includes elements of personal reflection based on the experience of the first author, who is a long-time member and former director of CEN.
A full English language translation of this commentary is available online ( www.ecoscience.ulaval.ca).