History of Civil Engineering
As in Europe, "engineer" in Canada meant military engineer. Slowly more and more engineering became civil or nonmilitary. It was the demand for improved systems of transportation, namely canals and railways, that brought civil engineering to a position of prominence.
A period of steady canal building activity was carried on during the 19th century giving Canada the great Welland and Rideau canals.
The Rideau canal was truly a Canadian canal. Rather than stick to traditional European techniques, Canadian engineers had to creatively adapt the canal construction to withstand the harsh conditions found in Canada. The Welland canal also furthered engineering in Canada. When the government took over the building of the canal, it was decided to bring in engineering expertise from the civil service to assist the civilian engineers. This is now known as "sourcing".
As the cities grew in population, the threat of disease and fire also grew. Around the middle of the 19th century, many of the major cities were forced to start designing and building water and sewer systems.
Originally, Canadian engineering students worked as apprentices under engineering professionals, gaining practical experience along with the academics. Later these students were termed "engineers-in-training". The first engineering school was established in 1854 at what is now the University of New Brunswick.
In 1867, the BNA (British North American Act) was passed and regulation of the professions for the protection of the public was transferred to the provinces.
The Canadian Society of Civil Engineers was formed in 1887. This was the first step toward making engineering in Canada a profession with strict licensing and high standards. 288 engineers from all existing disciplines were members of the CSCE in 1887.
In 1918 the name of the CSCE was changed to the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) so that it could represent all the engineering disciplines. In the 1920s the EIC encouraged the provinces to set up self-governing groups of professional engineers. Many of these are still in existence.
The EIC started encouraging the formation of technical divisions within the Institute and eventually recommended that the technical division be give autonomy (self-government). In 1970 the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering was approved. Then came the Canadian Geotechnical Society in 1972 along with the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, (CSCE).