The Manitoba Civil Engineers Act of 1896

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In 1896 Manitoba became the first province in Canada to enact legislation that established the right-to-title and the right-to-practice with respect to providing engineering services.

The 1896 Act

The following is an excerpt from ...(Dave where is this quote from?)... highlighting the underlining reasoning for the creation of the act at the time:

“Whereas, it is deemed expedient for the better protection of the public interests and for the general advancement of Mechanical Science, and more particularly for promoting the acquisition of that species of knowledge which has special reference to the profession of a Civil Engineer, and to encourage investigation in connection with all branches of knowledge connected with the profession, and in order to enable persons requiring professional aid in any work to which such knowledge of Civil Engineering is applicable or necessary, to distinguish between qualified and unqualified Civil Engineers”

The legislation is relatively brief, as was common in its day, however Section 17 provides the essence of its main regulatory provisions. It reads as follows,

“On and after the 1st day of July 1896, no person shall be entitled within this Province to take or use the name and title of “Civil Engineer” or any abbreviation thereof, either alone or in combination with any other word or words, or any name, title or description implying that he is a member of the said Society of Civil Engineers, or act as Engineer in laying out, advising on, constructing or superintending the construction of any railway or public work, or any work upon which public money is expended, the cost of which shall exceed $500, unless such person is a member of the Society hereby incorporated and registered as such under the provisions of the Act, or unless he is a duly qualified Civil Engineer, and entitled to use the title of Civil Engineer by virtue of some statute in force in this Province, or by the authority of some institution of learning in this Province having authority to confer degrees in Civil Engineering, or unless he has been practicing as a Civil Engineer in this Province at the time of the passing of this Act, or unless he is a member in good standing of some institution of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland, or of some National Society of Civil Engineers of good standing in any foreign country.”

Interesting points of note in the Act are:

  • it refers to a ‘Society’ but did not designate a name for the society (Presumably the society was synonymous with the Manitoba Branch of The Canadian Society for Civil Engineers);
  • it provided for ‘Council of Management’ that had 21 members all of whom had to be British subjects residing in the Dominion of Canada;
  • the society had ‘the full power to enact by-laws for … the suspension, expulsion, disciplining and readmission of members’; and
  • “If the Registrar shall willfully make or cause to be made any falsification in any matter relating to the register, or shall refuse to allow the register to be inspected, he shall be deemed to be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall on conviction thereof be imprisoned for any term not exceeding twelve months.”

Repealing the 1896 Act

Despite the intentions of the Act to restrict engineering services to those qualified, in the years following 1896 it was apparent that the act lacked the "administrative machinery" to enforce the restrictions. As a result, the act was repealed in 1913. New legislation regulating engineering services would not re-appear until 1920, and enact the founding of the Association of Professional Engineers of Manitoba.


  • The legislation would have brought some consistency and regulation of engineering in the developments that were necessary in a young province remote from the established systems of eastern Canada.
  • Being the first legislation regulating engineering services it presumably influenced the model that evolved throughout Canada.

Associated Organizations

This act is associated with the following organizations:



  1. Province of Manitoba (1896). The Manitoba Civil Engineers Act. Queens Printer
  1. Hart, Peter R. (1997) A Civil Society: A Brief Personal History of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (printed by Advantage Inc.) ISBN 0-921-303-68-8
  1. Landon. C.S. (1945) A Short History of the Association of Professional Engineers of the Province of Manitoba, 25th Anniversary Year Book of Association of Professional Engineers of the Province of Manitoba. Self published.

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