OSPE Celebrates Canada 150

Recognizing past and future engineering innovations 

Throughout 2017, OSPE is highlighting how engineers have shaped Canada. We’ll be hosting events, spearheading initiatives and sharing stories focused on industries and projects that involve engineering across Ontario and how they’ve contributed to Canada’s past, present and future.

If you’d like to get involved, download our 2017 Sponsorship Kit or share your story with us by emailing stories@ospe.on.ca.

Upcoming events - check back regularly for details

National Engineering Month (NEM 2017)

March  |  Find out more

OSPE’s MPP Queen's Park Reception

April 25, 2017  |  Find out more
Toronto, Ontario

Ring of Fire & Northern Development Symposium

May 12, 2017  |  Find out more
North Bay, Ontario

Industry, government, First Nations and engineers will come together to discuss the sustainable economic development of the north, including the future of energy, infrastructure and mining in the region.

Social Advocacy

June 1, 2017
Toronto, Ontario

Exactly one year from Ontario's next provincial election, OSPE members can come together to preview OSPE's planned advocacy activities for the Fall of 2017, and discuss what engineers want out of the next government. How do we better organize and present ourselves as an important voting group?

150 Ways Engineering Has Shaped Canada

  • Engineering graduates as ideal astronauts
    Travelling through space is a physically and psychologically demanding undertaking. Engineers are often particularly suited to participate in space missions because of their technical competence, analytical outlooks, problem-solving abilities and whole-systems thinking. Take a look at the remarkable profiles of the engineering graduates (many of whom were educated in Ontario) who are on the Canadian Space Agency's list of astronaut candidates

  • Celebrating a historical female engineer
    Elizabeth Muriel Gregory "Elsie" MacGill, was the first woman to graduate with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Toronto. She later became the first woman to earn a Master's degree in aeronautical engineering. During World War II, she became the chief aeronautical engineer heading the production of the Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft. MacGill is considered the first woman aircraft designer.

  • Creating the Canadarm
    The Canadarm is a remote-controlled robotic arm originally used on the NASA's Space Shuttle orbiters and currently aboard the International Space Station. The first arm was produced in 1981 by a team of Canadian engineers from Toronto and Montreal who applied their knowledge from previous work on a robotic arm used in the CANDU nuclear power system.
  • Creating connections through waterways
    The Rideau Canal–the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America–still runs along its original line and with most of its original structures intact. Lieutenant-Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers designed and supervised the construction of the 202-kilometre canal through tough rocky terrain and bush. The waterway played a pivotal role in the early development of Canada by transporting migrants and supplies.

  • Improving efficiency and safety
    Elijah McCoy was an African-Canadian mechanical engineer who patented over 50 inventions, including the portable ironing board and lawn sprinkler. McCoy is best known, for his self-regulating drip-cup lubricator, which drastically improved efficiency and safety aboard locomotives and in factories and mines in the early 1870s. "The Real McCoy"–a phrase still used today–was adopted by buyers to distinguish between the high-quality original and lower quality imitation devices. Learn more on the Society Notes blog.

  • Connecting Canada from coast to coast
    The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) or transcontinental railway was a feat of engineering that played an important role in the expansion of Confederation, promoting the settlement of Western Canada. The railway is marvelled not only because of its challenging construction through the rock and muskeg of the Canadian Shield, but over the years, the CPR has also helped spur new industries rich in engineering influence, including the development of new shipping lines, airlines, and the mining and telecommunications industries.
  • Inventing alkaline & lithium batteries
    Lewis Frederick Urry, an Ontario-born chemical engineering graduate and inventor, is credited with inventing both the alkaline and lithium battery. His revolutionary decision to create cells with acid-neutralizing materials and powdered zinc, extended the life span of the battery. Before his death in 2004, Urry achieved 51 patents. Read more in this article from The Globe and Mail.
  • Embracing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system
    The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is recognized as the international mark of excellence for green building in over 140 countries. Outside of the US, Canada has the largest number of both LEED-certified and LEED-registered buildings in the world. As of March 2016, engineers have played a leading role in the creation of about 44 million m² of LEED New Construction (NC) buildings and about 24 million m² of existing building projects in Canada.

  • Developing community solutions in northern Ontario
    In July 2016, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada put out a request for proposals to study the economic sustainability of greenhouses in northern communities. The long distances that food must be transported, high rates of spoilage, limited availability and high cost of food products, has prompted engineers and engineering graduates, like Andreas Zailo to develop sustainable, hybrid solar/geothermal greenhouse models.

  • Industrializing Canada's agricultural-based economy
    Civil engineer C.D. Howe relocated from Massachusetts to become Dalhousie University's first professor of civil engineering. Between 1916-1935, he designed grain elevators that were quicker and more economical to build than competitor models. His design for the Dominion-Howe unloader further increased efficiency by significantly reducing the amount of time required to empty a grain car.
      • Anchoring high rises into moving ground
        Glaciers that once stood where Toronto exists today pressed the Earth's crust into the soft mantle beneath it. Today, the mantle continues to rebound, causing Toronto's skyline to raise an amount roughly equivalent to the thickness of a nickel, every year. As a result, anchoring high rises into moving ground is a challenge for the city's engineers and required specialized building techniques to accommodate. Check out Strip the City's video clip: 5:15 - 9:00 minute mark.

    • Building protection during times of conflict
      The Fortress of Louisbourg marks a 1713 French settlement on Cape Breton Island that was fortified to protect against threat of British invasion. Parisian military engineer, Jean-Francois du Verger de Verville, originally designed this National Historic Site, including the citadel barracks, and drew the first plan of the town. Verville shrewdly selected the location so as to take advantage of its natural barriers within his design.

    • Creating the world's first underwater pedestrian tunnel
      The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Pedestrian Tunnel is the world's first underwater pedestrian tunnel to an airport. During the tunnel's construction, it was the first time that a seven-drift arch pre-support excavation technique was used in Canada. The use of seven smaller, concrete-filled tunnels that arch over the main tunnel allowed excavation to continue under the crown while enabling the tunnel to hold its shape. This feet of engineering rests 100 feet below Lake Ontario's Western Channel and is 260 metres in length.

    • Accommodating urban population growth
      Engineers, architects and developers are helping accommodate urban population growth, while reducing land usage, by supporting vertical development. Canada is currently ranked seventh in the world and second in North America based on the number of completed buildings standing at 150 metres tall and higher.

    • Building the tallest tower in the world (between 1976-2010!)
      Toronto's CN Tower held onto its title as the world's tallest tower, building and freestanding structure from 1976-2010. The 553.33-metre-tall phenomenon was built to last, harnessing innovative engineering techniques that include a hexagonal concrete core with embedded post-tension cables and a centre of gravity less than 61 metres from the ground.

    • Creating the world's first fully retractable roof
      The Rogers Centre or "Skydome" is recognized as the world's first fully retractable roof, and is made up of four panels–three of which open in a smooth, circular motion. Although the roof covers a whopping 8 acres and weighs 11,000 tonnes, this feat of engineering nonetheless opens and closes in only 20 minutes.

    • Conserving Canada's history
      A heritage preservation movement has developed in many Canadian cities. From national parks to historical forts and waterfront revitalizations, engineers work closely with multi-disciplinary teams of professionals like architects, archaeologists and historians to adhere to the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. Engineers can help balance the conservation of various structures and materials, with the smooth integration of modern updates and sustainability interventions.
  • Spearheading pacemaker technology
    John Hopps, P.Eng., is considered the Father of Biomedical Engineering in Canada. Hopps produced an electrode that could stimulate the lining of the heart and shock irregular heart contractions into a normal rhythm, without opening a patient's chest. The early pacemaker was too large for implantation, but in 1958, the pacemaker was implanted into a human for the first time.
  • Bringing the industrial Internet of Things to the mining industry
    Edmonton-based company Scanimetrics is bringing the industrial Internet of Things into the mining space by using wireless sensors that can be fitted to anything (a person, a vehicle, a tool) in the harshest of conditions to monitor operations from thousands of miles away. Sensor pods run off a battery that can last up to a year on one charge and transmit to a repeater, data capture unit or Internet gateway. Scanimetrics then analyzes the data and turns it into digestible visualizations.

  • The Role of Engineers in Policy Advocacy
    Manitoba-based Eric Hinton, P.Eng., is a driver of leading-edge #mining solutions and was the 2016 recipient of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum's Mining Engineering Outstanding Achievement Award. Hinton is the co-owner of three important patents concerning the operation of underground autonomous loading equipment, 3D mapping of rock faces, and analyses of rock fragmentation.
  • Advancing the movie-going experience
    The IMAX film format and projection system was co-founded by a team of four Canadians, including Ontario's William Shaw, P.Eng. The IMAX system facilitated the recording and display of images of far greater size and resolution than conventional systems, and only required one powerful projector. IMAX technology was innovative in its use of specialized cameras, wide screens, and 70mm film stock—which is ten times the size of that used in a regular theatre.


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