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The Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering: the first 25 years.

In this anniversary year of the CSCHE, it is instructive to look back at the Society's foundations and at its evolution over this quarter century. Aims and Objectives The aims and objectives of the CSCHE stated in our current By-laws are:

1) To act as the designated representative of The Chemical

Institute of Canada in matters pertaining to chemical


2) To maintain the profession of chemical engineering in

its proper status among other learned professions;

3) To maintain a high professional standard among its


4) To provide services of a professional and educational

nature to its members and to other members of the scientific

and engineering professions; and

5) To encourage research and to advance the development

of technology related to the theory, practice or application

of chemical engineering.

While the wording has been modified, and perhaps clarified, over the years, the intent is the same as that expressed by the founding members in 1966.


The evolution of the CSCHE displays a staged progression over almost a century to a level of maturity marked by international recognition, a sense of independence, a concern for strong participation in cooperative scientific and professional enterprises, and a willingness to shoulder professional responsibility democratically and clearly enunciated.

It may be claimed that the staged evolution of chemical engineering distinctiveness as a profession in Canada was initiated, possibly unknowingly, when the Canadian Institute of Chemistry (CIC) was first established in 1921 and elected as its first President, J. Watson Bain of the University of Toronto's Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. Bain was succeeded in turn by John S. Bates, HFCIC, one of Canada's pioneer chemical engineers. This leading role by chemical engineers in a society devoted to chemistry' was indicative of the close and often inseparable relationship between chemists and chemical engineers in this era. However, the foundations for the growing distinctiveness of chemical engineering in a professional organizational sense go back further. Three definite and clear characteristics can be defined.

The first basic characteristic was the commonality of the professions of chemistry and chemical engineering. Prior to 1920, the latter had not even emerged into the unit operations decade. Both professions were merged in a common enterprise devoted largely to the operation of chemical plants. Industrial chemistry, as a field of learning, and chemical industry, as the setting for professional practice, were paramount.

A second important component of the Canadian scene was the activity embracing the whole profession of engineering.

As seen through The Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), which had been founded in 1887, it was almost entirely devoted to civil and mechanical engineering with their emphasis and outlook on construction, power and transportation. At the same time, both British- and United States centered organizations, especially those for mechanical and electrical engineering, were forming local associations in several Canadian cities.

The third foundation pier, to support the evolving chemical engineering profession in Canada, may be found in the indigenous specialized engineering organizations related to the resource industries. Primary among these are the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (CIM) and the Technical Section of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association (CPPA). The latter's founding chairman (1915-1918) was the same Bates who, four years later, took over as second President of the fledgling CIC. Bates personified both the attractiveness to the early chemical engineer of technical associations geared to the process industries (an attractiveness which logically and appropriately still pertains strongly today), as well as the degree to which chemical engineers could and would assume leadership in suitable scientific and technical organizations.

These noticeable characteristics through the first two decades of this century reflected a growing sense of community and communal need amongst those who supported or were directly involved in early chemical and process industry growth in Canada. There was a clear realization that association was essential for their personal, scientific and professional enhancement. This was certainly true for those who applied the chemistry and the chemical engineering skills of the day as well as those in applied and analytical chemistry in the industrial processes dependent thereon. The formation of the CIC was a logical outcome of such trends. Although we have noted above that this was a significant milestone on the evolutionary road of Canadian chemical engineering, there were other association moves central to a theme of chemistry and industry. In 1902, Toronto saw the establishment of the first Canadian section of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI). Based in Great Britain, this organization was devoted to furthering, on an international scale, all aspects of the chemical industry. Branches were quickly founded in Montreal and Ottawa and, in 1917, in Vancouver (the same year that UBC graduated its first chemical engineer). In 1918, under the auspices of the SCI, the first Canadian Chemical Congress was held in Ottawa, undoubtedly preceding the 1921 formation of the CIC.

The next 20 years saw relatively little growth or change for chemical engineers. The four university degree programmes in 1920, joined by three new ones by 1940, never graduated more than about 100 chemical engineers in total. The CIC continued Local Section programming and an annual conference, and the SCI maintained its activities. The Canadian Chemical Association was formed, but added only very modestly to meeting any chemical engineering needs. It was left to the years of World War II for the major developments that prepared for the next stage in the evolution of chemical engineering as a profession in Canada. Rapid war industry expansion with a new emphasis on chemical-based development, as well as the importance of the process industries, created a new interest in chemical associations and a questioning of the need for three independent organizations in the field. With a vision of the increased efficiency and influence potential in a single association, a restructuring committee was formed (under the chairmanship of Bates!) and reported in 1945. Resulting negotiations among the three existing societies successfully resulted in the formation of The Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC), and an enthusiastic initiating annual meeting in June 1946. This Institute was specifically designed and mandated in its Charter to further the professions and the sciences of chemistry and chemical engineering. Another stage had been reached for chemical engineering in Canada! As an aside and matter of record, while the three originating associations amalgamated their activities into the new Institute, the SCI formed a single Canadian Section in order to continue its awards programme, an activity which still continues.

A Chemical Engineering Division in the Chemical institute

The Charter of the newly formed Institute also allowed the establishment of specific subject divisions, and one of the first actions of the new CIC was to establish the Chemical Engineering Division. This was the true beginning of clearly defined organizational activities for and by chemical engineers in Canada. This milestone also marked the beginning of almost 20 years of growth and achievement which paralleled those in the major contributing areas of university and industry. Eight new university degree programmes helped contribute to increasing the annual flow of graduates to the 200 to 300 range. Post-graduate programmes, both at the masters and doctorate level, proliferated across the country. Industrial, government and university research positions grew noticeably. Industrial requirements for chemical engineers increased significantly.

For the Chemical Engineering Division of the CIC, activity was the watchword from the beginning. Under dynamic leadership in its early years from such chemical engineers as Lyle Streight, Adolf Monsaroff, R.R. McLaughlin, I.R. McHaffie, George Govier and J.D. Leslie, an annual Canadian chemical engineering conference was established with the first meeting in Toronto in 1951. Including 1958 these conferences were held in the spring, but shifted in 1959 to October. Participation in the annual conference of the CIC, usually in early June, was also maintained at a significant level. A triple emphasis on research, on state-of-the-art practice, and on economic and management issues was a hallmark of the conference programming. As an indigenous effort in the publication of research (described in more detail below) The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering was established in 1957 as an important activity of the Division. At the local level chemical engineering groups were formed with separate executives within several CIC Local Sections, and designed programmes to meet the direct interests of chemical engineers. Cross-country tours by international eminent chemical engineers were arranged. Liaison with university chemical engineering clubs and affiliation as Student Chapters were emphasized. The net effort was an increase in overall CIC membership and member participation, as well as a new prominence for chemical engineering and its practitioners. The interest and support of chemical engineers in Canada had indeed been clearly indicated for association activities and programmes.

Formation of the CSCHE - The Constituent Society Concept

The Chemical Engineering Division activities described briefly above augmented the participation of and the role for chemical engineers in The Institute. Paradoxically, it became evident that the status of a division within the CIC did not represent either properly or fully the needs and concern for promotion of membership and activities of chemical engineers. Late in 1963, these concerns were focused through the establishment of a Division committee on the role of chemical engineers within the ClC, which reported to the annual meeting of the Division in October of 1964. The two competing ideas of a fully separate chemical engineering association and a continuation within the CIC were clearly evident, and the compromise that was accepted was to seek from the CIC some form of restructuring but within the CIC. The CIC Council formed a committee, in early 1965, composed of recent Past Presidents of The Institute and recent Past-Chairmen of the Division, to recommend on changes in the title and/or structure of the CIC to recognize the parallelism of chemistry and chemical engineering. The ensuing recommendations to institute bylaw changes, which allowed the establishment of constituent societies whose membership could be identified by a distinctive academic discipline, were approved by the CIC Board of Directors and then by the Chemical Engineering Division at its annual meeting in October 1965. The CIC Council, in February 1966, approved the new by-laws which thus allowed the formation of a constituent society for chemical engineering (the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering). As a Constituent Society, it would have almost complete autonomy and freedom of action, and at the same time access to all of the programs, activities and services of the institute as a whole. The final steps were taken when the changes were overwhelmingly approved (88%) by the CIC membership, and then by the Secretary of State on May 20, 1966. The CSCHE had been born lusty and thriving after many decades of prenatal nurturing, and strong parental foundations.

Expanding Activities

The formation of the CSCHE enhanced the standing of the technical organization representing chemical engineering in Canada in the eyes of Canadian engineers and in the eyes of sister societies abroad.

The Society continued and improved the functions of the old Chemical Engineering Division: for example, holding the annual Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference, providing editorial control of The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, sponsoring student chapters in each Department of Chemical Engineering, administrating the R.S. Jane Memorial Lecture Award. Important new activities included the formation of CSCHE Local Sections, the establishment of additional awards and prizes, and increased interaction with sister societies.

The CIC Local Sections in Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver had had separate chemical engineering groups for some years. In 1967, these became the first four CSChE Local Sections. By the mid-1970s, new Local Sections had been formed in Kingston, Ont., Sarnia, Ont. and Wellington-Waterloo, Ont., to bring the total to seven. For the past 15 years, there have been between seven and nine local sections. Although four new ones were formed in Calgary, Fort McMurray, Alta., Hamilton, Ont. and Ottawa, some sections have become inactive, or have chosen to reunite with the CIC Local Section from which they originally separated. Whether to have separate CIC and CSCHE Local Sections, or a single CIC Local Section, depends on how the separate interests of chemists, engineers and technologists, as well as their joint interests can best be met in each location. Local Sections provide important services, programmes and a technical focus for chemical engineers at the local level. They also enhance the visibility of the Society in centres across the country.

An important function of the Society is to recognize and honour distinguished chemical engineers in Canada. The number of awards administered by the Society has grown to include, in addition to the R.S. Jane Memorial Lecture Award, the Albright & Wilson Americas Award (originally the Erco Award), the CSCHE Award in Industrial Practice sponsored by Imperial Oil Ltd. and the Jules Stachiewicz Medal.

In the field of intersociety relations and international recognition, the CSCHE has made considerable progress over its first 25 years. The Intersociety Relations Committee has played the key role in this, especially through the leadership of W.J. Murray Douglas (McGill) who was its chairman for the first 16 years, from 1966 to 1982. The Chemical Engineering Division had enjoyed cordial relations with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers over the years; two of the early Canadian chemical engineering conferences were held jointly with the AIChE, in Toronto in 1953, and in Montreal in 1958. The new Society in 1968 jointly sponsored with the AICHE and the Institute of Chemical Engineers (UK) a very successful tripartite chemical engineering conference in Montreal. This was followed in 1973 by a well-attended joint conference with the AICHE in Vancouver.

The Chemical Engineering Division was a founding member of the Interamerican Confederation of Chemical Engineers in 1964, and, under Douglas' leadership, the Society has played an important role in the growth of this organization which is comprised of chemical engineering societies throughout the Americas. Being a strong and helpful member of the Interamerican Confederation was the key to the CSCHE being selected to host the Second World Congress of Chemical Engineering in 1981; it was the responsibility of the Interamerican Confederation to make this decision. This congress, which brought together members of the three regional associations of chemical engineering - the European Federation, the Asian Pacific Confederation and the Interamerican Confederation - was a tremendous success attracting 6100 attendees and over 1000 presentations from 50 countries. This event combined the Second World Congress, the IX Interamerican Congress and the 31st Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference. It provided the Society with enhanced prestige as well as technical, social and financial benefits. The CSCHE share of the congress surplus has provided a sound basis for expanding activities in ensuing years.

Another important aspect of intersociety relations has been the CSCHE membership on the Technical Operations Board (TOB) of the EIC, a forum for representatives of all engineering technical societies in Canada. Chemical Engineering participation in the TOB began in 1975 and led to the involvement of the CSCHE in a successful series of Canadian conferences on engineering education. These links with our sister Canadian engineering societies have led to joint sponsorship of various conferences. The most important such event was the Canadian Engineering Centennial Convention in Montreal in 1987, involving the participation of 44 engineering associations and societies. The CSChE's 37th Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference was held in conjunction with this centennial convention.

The Society's annual conference, the Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference, has been an important event for its members since first held in Toronto in 1951, with about 100 attendees. It offers a wide range of technical information, as well as social and business opportunities, and provides useful contacts for students with practicing engineers. By the 1970s, attendance had grown to more than 600, and much more than this when combined with a major international event. These conferences have been held in 13 cities over the past 41 years. see Table 1).

As the CSCHE has evolved, it has attempted to increase its services to students. One aspect of this has been to provide for a strong students' programme at the annual conference, and in the past decade or so, to supplement this with several regional conferences on a regular basis for both undergraduate and graduate students.

The Road to Greater Autonomy

In his report at the end of the first year of operation of the CSChE, president W.H. Gauvin, HFCIC, noted that the Society has all the advantages of an autonomous body while at the same time enjoying the benefits of direct association with a strong parent Institute. The most important benefits were the availability of experienced permanent staff to provide a wide range of membership services, and communication with members through Chemistry in Canada.

However, through the 1970s a succession of CSCHE Boards of Directors expressed frustration with the CIC/CSChE organizational structure, especially with the lack of direct financial control of the Society's affairs. In part, the frustration stemmed from the inherent dual role of the CIC in the organizational structure. On the one hand, the CIC was the professional and technical organization for Canadian chemists, with all the myriad activities and responsibilities that were involved. On the other hand, it was an umbrella organization for two Constituent Societies, the CSCHE and the Canadian Society for Chemical Technology, who both participated in CIC activities and ran their own programmes. This duality was confounded by The Institute's system of integrated accounts which left the CSCHE controlling less than 10% of the fees paid by its members. To some there was the appearance of a lack of financial accountability, on the part of the Society's Board of Directors, to its membership. A further complication was the general lack of financial resources within The Institute as a whole, which placed severe constraints on all programmes; after paying for the operation of National Office and the publication of Chemistry in Canada, little was left of a member's fee to go toward programs.

The CSCHE called for more freedom and responsibility. With about one-third of the CIC members reported as belonging to the Society, there was a growing feeling that a greater degree of autonomy was appropriate. Indeed, quite a few members were beginning to favour a total separation of the CSCHE and the CIC.

The CSCHE set up a Fact-Finding Committee that reported early in 1980. It concluded that the CSCHE could stand alone financially, would lose some members if it separated, and that participation in various CIC activities was a valuable asset that should be preserved. The Society then sought organizational and financial autonomy for the CSChE within the CIC. The negotiations with the CIC were led by James Stewart, FCIC (Du Pont Canada), then President of the Society. This objective was achieved in 1982 when the CSCHE was incorporated under the provisions of Part 11 of the Canada Corporations Act as a Constituent Society within the CIC. The Society now has full financial control and responsibility; it collects its own fees and pays the CIC for the services it requires and for its share of joint activities.

Within a year of incorporation, it became obvious that the membership of the Society was significantly less than had been expected. The decision to employ its own general manager had to be abandoned. Constraints on programmes have remained due to the limited income. Increasing the membership of the Society has been and still is a major issue which needs to be resolved to achieve a broader range of activities and services. The CSCHE Within the New CIC

During the 1980s, the structure of The Institute has evolved and undergone a radical change with the formation of the Canadian Society for Chemistry. The Institute is now an umbrella organization for three Constituent Societies, providing services to these societies and dealing with those matters that are of joint interest or concern to chemists, engineers and technologists. Within the last year or so the structure and modus operandi of The Institute have been further streamlined so that its Council, Board of Directors and Standing Committees can exercise their mandates more effectively.

The main change for the CSCHE is that it has added seven Subject Divisions. This was achieved by inviting four existing Subject Divisions of the CIC in 1985 to become joint Subject Divisions of the CSCHE and CSC; the Catalysis Division, the Economics and Business Management Division, the Environment Division and the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Division. Each is represented on the CSCHE Board of Directors. Subsequently, Protective Coatings has become a joint CSCHE/CSC Division and the CSCHE has formed two new ones: Biotechnology and Systems and Controls. Currently, the Society is considering the need for additional Subject Divisions. The 41't Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference, to be held in Vancouver later this year, will provide the occasion to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the CSCHE, and to contemplate the challenges that it will face over the coming decades.

The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering

Our Journal is now well into its fourth decade of service to the chemical engineering community of Canada. It began in 1923 as 'Section F Technology' of The Canadian Journal of Research published by the National Research Council. 'Section F' later became The Canadian Journal of Technology but remained modest in size, often having only one research article per issue. As research activity in chemical engineering in Canada increased in the early 1950s, a medium suitable for its publication was clearly needed. Credit for the concept of a Canadian technical journal in chemical engineering and applied chemistry goes to Roger Gaudry, FCIC, when he was CIC President in 1955-56. With strong support from the Chemical Engineering Division, The Institute negotiated with the NRC to take over The Canadian Journal of Technology, and this transfer took effect in 1957. Renamed The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, and beginning in June 1957 with Volume 35 to retain the volume designation of its predecessor, full editorial and publishing responsibility was passed to the CIC. Under its aegis, the Chemical Engineering Division took on the effective care and feeding of this new Journal. In 1967, the CSCHE assumed full and direct involvement with the Journal, and with incorporation of the Society in 1982, it also took on full financial and publishing responsibility.

From its first year as an Institute publication and under the editorship of W.M. Campbell, FCIC (then with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.), the Journal assumed an editorial policy which it still maintains: to publish in either official language research in chemical engineering science and applied chemistry, as well as in the area of industrial practice. The vigorous efforts of Campbell set both high editorial standards and the scope for significant future growth. This tradition has been continued energetically by succeeding editors - Albert Cholette of Universite Laval (1959-62), Larry Osberg, FCIC, of the National Research Council (1963-67), Leslie Shemilt, HFCIC, of McMaster University (1967-84), Norman Epstein, FCIC, of the University of British Columbia (1985-89), and Cameron Robinson, MCIC, of the University of Waterloo, the present editor. Since 1967, each editor has been ably assisted by a succession of dedicated associate editors.

The editors' and the Journal's fortunes have been guided by enthusiastic editorial boards. The initial pattern was set by the first editorial board chairman, J. Richardson Donald, HFCIC. He has been followed by a capable series of chairmen drawn from a wide range of organizations conducting research in chemical engineering throughout Canada.

With strong leadership from its editors and sound guidance and support from the Society, the Journal grew rapidly and has reached significant international stature; for more than a decade it has been one of the leading chemical engineering journals. Somewhat more than half of the papers published come from abroad.

In this silver anniversary year of the Society, the Journal is devoting part of each issue to review and original research articles dealing with particular chemical engineering and related applied chemistry themes.

Participation and Leadership

In this short account of the founding and evolution of the CSChE only a few individuals have been named. There have been hundreds who have contributed to the Society's success. Their wholehearted participation in the CSCHE was essential to the Society's well-being, and was also an important component of their own fulfillment as chemical engineers. They have served as members of the Board of Directors and its Committees, as conference organizers, as Local Section Executive members, and in many other ways. The Society has also been fortunate in having skilled and dedicated National Office staff, who have served it well through the years.

To the Officers of the Society falls the main task of leadership, and their accomplishments measure the quality with which it has been exercised. Their names appear in Table 2.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Chemical Institute of Canada
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Rae, Howard K.; Shemilt, Leslie W.
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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