The Engineering Institute of Canada's principal contributions to the literature of the history of engineering have been the magazine, the ENGINEERING JOURNAL, which was published regularly between 1918 and 1987, and the occasional issues of its TRANSACTIONS. On only two occasions did it publish books. The first of them was DAYLIGHT THROUGH THE MOUNTAIN, which covered the lives and letters of the engineer-brothers Walter and Francis Shanly. It was written by Frank Norman Walker and appeared in 1957. A second book, a biography of Sir Casimir Gzowski written by Zubkowski and Greening, was published under the auspices of the Institute in 1960.
However, at least three of the Institute's branches have written and published their histories in book form. One appeared in 1959 - from Ottawa - in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its founding. It was followed a few years later by books from the Cornwall and Niagara Peninsula branches.
In 1987 the Institute participated with the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers and the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada in the year-long celebration of the centennial of engineering as a recognized profession. As part of this, the Centennial Board - in association with the National Museum of Science and Technology - commissioned Norman R. Ball to research and write a book that would capture the spirit and the achievements of engineering in this country up until the Centennial Year.
Ball's book, MIND, HEART AND VISION, duly appeared. It is the closest that anyone has come, thus far, to compiling a definitive treatment of this aspect of Canadian history. It begins with a description of the building of the Rideau Canal between 1826 and 1832, under the supervision of Lt. Col. John By of the Royal Engineers. It also includes the construction of other canals, such as the Welland, the extensive railway and bridge-building programs of the later 19th century and the massive hydro-electric projects of the early 20th, the electrification of the cities, the highway and bridge-building projects that followed the development of the automobile, Canada's engineering contributions during two World Wars , the post-WW II activities in petroleum exploration and production, aircraft design and construction, chemical production, the construction of large buildings, and Canadian contributions to engineering projects abroad. Under the heading "The Challenge of the Second Century," Dr. Ball ended his text with the following words:
"During the past hundred years, Canada has become increasingly dependent on the engineering profession, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. This means that, for a healthy country and society, care of the engineering profession is a necessity, as is the fact that this care must be the product of interaction between the profession and society at large. The only option is how well the job is done and even that leaves little room for manoeuvrability. However, it does leave room for imagination. One should remember that, more than anything else, Canadian engineering is a story of imagination and new departures at critical junctures. One should also remember that perceptions of the pasr and present help to shape the future. Moreover, the one hundredth anniversary of Canada's first engineering society comes at an extremely critical time for Canada. That is why the greatest single challenge facing Canada's engineering profession as it enters its second century is to make itself appreciated and understood; without that, there is little chance that the second century will be as rewarding as tthe first."