National History Committee

of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering

Reversing Falls Bridge, St. John, New Brunswick


The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering established a History Program in 1983. The Committee responsible for this Program is the CSCE National History Committee, whose mandate is “to record and preserve whatever tangible evidence remains of the significant works of earlier generations of Civil Engineers and through suitable publications and publicity to make the general public and even engineers themselves, more aware of the importance of Civil Engineering in the historic development and welfare of Canada

The principal activities of the Committee are:

  1. Historic Civil Engineering Sites

    Civil Engineering Sites of important historical significance are identified and commemorated. At an appropriate location on each site, a plaque is displayed containing brief information about the site and its importance. A Comprehensive Document is prepared for each site containing the research information leading to its Nomination, Photographs of the site, and copies of Press coverage of the Commemoration Ceremony, etc. From this information, a brief explanatory brochure is prepared for the information of participants at the ‘plaquing’ ceremony and of visitors to the site thereafter. To date 34 National Historic Civil Engineering Sites, 2 Regional Historic Sites and 3 International Sites (with ASCE) have been commemorated and ‘plaqued’.

  2. Oral History Program

    To date eight interviews with distinguished engineers have been recorded and an Oral History Student Scholarship has been established but no award has yet been made.

  3. Publications

    The National History Committee regularly produces a ‘History Notes’ insert to the Society’s bi monthly magazine ‘Canadian Civil Engineer’. Committee members have recently produced two books, ‘A Civil Society’ by Peter Hart is a history of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering and ‘For King and Country’ by Mark Andrews is a biography of Lt. Col. John By. Work is underway on a book on the National Historic Civil Engineering Sites, a Biographical Directory of Canadian Civil Engineers, and a Bibliography of Canadian Civil Engineering. Articles on Civil Engineering History are contributed to several other appropriate journals and magazines, e.g. ‘Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering’ and ‘Canadian Consulting Engineer’.

  4. Awards Program

    An annual award commemorating the founder of the CSCE History Program, the late W. Gordon Plewes, is given for outstanding contributions to the literature of Civil Engineering History. This award was first made in 1994 and nine awards have now been presented.

  5. Preservation of Historic Civil Engineering Works

    The CSCE National History Committee work closely with appropriate National and Local organizations to encourage the preservation of Historic Civil Engineering Works.

  6. Research

    This has taken the form of physical research in identifying artifacts of interest as well as academic research into early Canadian Civil Engineering History.

  7. Education

    Whenever possible, lectures, presentations and seminars are given by committee members to engineering students, engineers and the general public. This initiative includes presentations on Civil Engineering History to CSCE Section Meetings and to Student Conferences, Student Chapter Meetings, etc. In association with the North American Alliance on Civil Engineering, work has been undertaken to examine ways in which Civil Engineering History could be introduced to the Curriculum of Engineering Schools.

  8. Web Site

    The National History Committee’s Web Site contains information on the committee and its activities and also lists and briefly describes the National Historic Civil Engineering Sites. It can be accessed through the main CSCE Web Site.