Organized groups of professional engineers existed for many years in various Ontario communities, and
although there was cooperation between these groups and the Council of the association, no official
recognition was deemed necessary until 1960. In the late 1950s, the association was faced with unrest within
its membership, which was being expressed by an organization known as CAPE (Committee for the Advancement of
Professional Engineers). At the same time, a brief from the Niagara Group of Professional Engineers advocated
a change in the system of Council representation. In reviewing these situations, the Council found that
communications with the membership could be improved greatly.
In 1959, Council formed a special committee called the Area Groups Committee to study the need for
improved communications between Council and the membership, possible methods of communication and the
question of area or regional representation on Council rather than the traditional branch representation. The
committee reported to Council in April 1960 and, accordingly, a referendum was held in 1960 asking for
approval of a chapter program. Although this was favoured by a bare majority of members, a province-wide
organization of chapters was established in 1961 with the purpose of improving communications and giving
members an opportunity to participate more fully in association affairs.
Despite the bare majority vote on the referendum, there was a large group of members with the willingness
and the enthusiasm to take an active role in professional affairs. By the end of 1961, there were 31
chapters; today there are 36.
The primary purpose of the chapter system was to improve intra-association communications, with emphasis
on membership to Council communication. However, while chapter executives established communications with
Council through their chapter chairs, the members-at-large seldom used the chapter system as a communications
vehicle. This was largely due to two factors:
- The time-consuming task of ensuring that each individual member had ample opportunity to express views on
the topics under consideration
- The limited number of members who were willing to take an active part in chapter activities.
Consideration of the future of the chapter system led to the inclusion in the 1968-69 Act of a provision
for election of Councillors on a regional basis. Consequently, in 1969, the 42 chapters were grouped into
five regions, and regional congress meetings were initiated as a means of conveying members' views through
the Regional Councillors, at the regular Council meetings.
The chapters, meanwhile, continued to arrange activities for their members, including semi-technical and
social meetings, and gradually expanded the scope of their operations to include Engineering Days and
Engineering Weeks, plus special projects of benefit to their communities.
Although the chapters are not referred to in the Professional Engineers Act, they are considered an
integral part of the association and operate on the basis of charters granted by Council. Chartering consists
of the recording of a Motion of Council approving the formation of the chapter and defining the geographical
The relationship between the Council and Chapters is defined in By-law No.1.