Canadian Consulting Engineer

HISTORY (March 01, 1999)

Birth of a magazineThe editorial "Comment" in December 1999 said how difficult it was to unearth any history of how Canadian Consulting Engineer came to being in 1959. Since then Hans Schweinsberg, hu...

March 1, 1999   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Birth of a magazine

The editorial “Comment” in December 1999 said how difficult it was to unearth any history of how Canadian Consulting Engineer came to being in 1959. Since then Hans Schweinsberg, husband of the late Louanne Smrke has found some notes among his wife’s papers which shed light on the subject. Louanne was the highly regarded managing editor of the magazine from 1981 to her untimely death 10 years later. Mr. Schweinsberg remembers her asking the founding editor, Carson Morrison, to write down his recollections on a visit to their house. Following is an extract of Morrison’s notes:

“Development programs were in full swing across Canada in 1959 and there was an active demand for engineering services. Everyone was going after that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

“In a conversation with Jim Daly, president of Hugh C. MacLean Publications Ltd., he told me that he planned to start yet another magazine. For this one the audience would be consulting engineers and the name would be Canadian Consulting Engineer. It sounded like a good idea at the time and I said so. But when he asked me to be the editor of the magazine, I was surprised and flattered but didn’t believe I could handle the job. Finally I agreed to try it and am certainly glad I did. For me that assignment proved to be a great experience. …

“Since the end of the Second World War there has been a dramatic growth in the size of Canada’s consulting engineering community and in the range of the services it has offered and the projects it has undertaken. In that short period the leap forward in science, technology and engineering was such that many of today’s processes and project objectives were not even known to the profession when Canadian Consulting Engineer was launched.

“Another drastic change during that interim has been the persistent increase in claims alleging errors and omissions in providing the services undertaken by consulting engineers. While this is only [about] money, it is one of the important changes experienced by consultants in those 25 years that has had a marked effect on the conduct of their business affairs.”

Legget collection

Carl B. Crawford, adjunct professor in the department of civil engineering at the University of British Columbia, has produced a bound collection of photocopies of all the articles published by the late Dr. Robert Legget in Canadian Consulting Engineer. Legget, who was director of the National Research Council’s Building Research division and well known throughout the profession, published over 100 monthly columns beginning in 1960 under the rubric “Historical Notes.” The articles covered every topic, from stories about the unsung heroes of early Canadian engineering such as Thomas Roy, to articles on enduring engineering works such as the Royal Alexandra Bridge.

Reproducing the articles as a set was a long-held desire by Mr. Crawford and of Professor Legget himself. Copies are available in libraries at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, the University of British Columbia and the National Archives in Ottawa. Anyone who is interested in obtaining further copies should contact Bronwen Ledger at Canadian Consulting Engineer.

Are you interested in reviewing books or writing other articles for Canadian Consulting Engineer? Contact the editor at (416) 442-2266.


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