Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer

Title:  Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer. Office of the Camp Wardens. Camp One fonds

Date(s) of creation: 1919-2009

Physical description:  2.85 metres of multimedia records

Admin. History/Biographical Sketch: 
The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, also known as the Kipling Ritual, or the Iron Ring Ceremony, is a private ceremony to initiate newly qualified engineers to the social and ethical responsibilities of the profession. The text for the ceremony was written by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) in 1922, at the request of Professor Herbert Edward Terrick Haultain (1869-1961), and was adapted in consultation with several past-presidents of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) for use in the first ceremonies held in Montreal and Toronto in 1925. Integral to the Ritual is the wearing of the iron ring, which is worn on the little finger of the writing hand, as a reminder of the engineer’s sworn professional obligation.

The issue of creating a graduation ritual for new engineers was first presented at the 36th annual professional meeting of the EIC, held 25 January 1922, in Montreal, Quebec. Professor Haultain, of the University of Toronto, was the luncheon speaker at the meeting, where he gave a lecture entitled “The Romance of Engineering”, after which he suggested the development of an oath, in the form of the Hippocratic Oath, but for engineers. The idea was an extension of Haultain’s involvement with the transformation of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineers into the EIC in 1918, a transformation that sought to formalize the licensing process of engineers, while increasing their professional and public standing.

The difficulty of drafting an appropriate ritual led Haultain to correspond with Kipling for help with authoring a text. Kipling showed considerable interest in the idea and drafted the initial ceremony, which was formalized, after considerable consultation between Haultain and the seven past presidents of the EIC. These seven would ultimately become co-opted as the original Corporation of Seven Wardens by the authority of their seniority in the profession. They were John Morrice Roger Fairbairn (1873-1954), George Herrick Duggan (1862-1946), Phelps Johnson (1849-1926), George Alphonso Mountain (1861-1927), Robert Alexander Ross (d.1936), William Francis Tye (1861-1932) and Henry Hague Vaughan (1868-1942). Fairbairn was the original chairman, or Chief Warden, of this governing body.

The first “installation meeting” also referred to as a “preliminary rehearsal” was held 25 April 1925, in Montreal, with Ross acting as the Senior Supervising Engineer (SSE), while administering the obligation to himself and Fairbairn, as well as Harold Rolph, Norman M. Lash, Jim M. Robertson and John Chalmers, all graduates of the class of 1893 from the University of Toronto. In Toronto, on 1 May 1925, fourteen officers of the Engineering Alumni Association were obligated in the Senate Chambers of the University of Toronto by the newly obligated senior engineers from Montreal. This ceremony was followed by the same day obligation of the University’s graduating class of 107 engineering students.

Following Kipling’s notion of a camp ritual, that theirs was a gathering under the spirit of camaraderie, the original Wardens of Camp One subsequently established a formal charter to administer the Ritual in Toronto, on 22 February 1926, by correspondence between Fairbairn and Robert John Marshall (1884-1970). The original Camp Wardens were Haultain, Marshall, William D. Black (d.1961), Arthur D’Orr LePan (1885-1976), Charles E. MacDonald, Thomas H. Hogg, and William A. Bucke. For the complete names of the original Wardens of the first nine Camps see the list directly following the administrative history.

Camp One’s independent authority to administer the Ritual was solidified when they were given the Book of Authority by Fairbairn in 1927, which included the full text of the Kipling Ritual. Although the Ritual could be said to originate, both administratively and conceptually, with Haultain, he nonetheless took on an informal role in the inaugural ceremonies, because of his conviction that the ceremony must be conducted by working engineers, in order that it not be associated with the awarding of academic credentials. From its inception the Ritual has been voluntary and does not confer any professional qualifications on the wearer of the ring.

The obligation rings were initially made from puddled wrought iron, sometimes called cold iron, hand-hammered by First World War veterans at the Christie Street Military Hospital, under the care of the Military Hospitals Commission which became the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-establishment (DSCR). Haultain, who had a longstanding association with the DSCR, arranged for the rings to be manufactured and delivered to the various camps until the end of 1948, when the responsibility for their manufacture was taken over by the Corporation of the Seven Wardens, based in Montreal. Camp One however continued to manufacture its own supply of rings, considering them to be one of the Ancient Landmarks in the Ritual. While many members still wear the iron ring, most of the rings manufactured today are made from stainless steel.

The ring, for Kipling, is intended as an allegory. It is rough, not smoothed, and hammered by hand as, in the words of Kipling, “the young have all their hammering coming to them.” The ring has no beginning or end. Kipling’s use of cold iron as a symbolic metal for the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer stems from his interest in iron as a metal of power and a symbol of human innovation. Likewise, the Ancient Landmarks upon which the obligation is taken are made of cold iron of “honourable tradition” without inscription. Landmarks have typically included anvils, chains and hammers. A frequently circulated myth about the iron rings is that they were made from the pieces of the collapsed Pont de Quebec Bridge that killed 76 people in 1907. The rings, however, have always been made from commercial sources. While the Ritual is not a secret initiation, tradition has called for the ceremony to be private and has been solemnized by its not being publicized. In Camp One only senior engineers are permitted to take part in the obligation and only family members who have been previously obligated are permitted to witness the initiation of new engineers.
Administrative history (cont’d)

The original Kipling Ritual was copyrighted in Ottawa on 5 June 1926, under copyright number 6831. Obligation sheets have been printed and given out at the ceremony since 1927. The “Hymn of Breaking Strain”, a poem written by Rudyard Kipling, was added to the Ritual in 1933, in place of a homily, to be delivered by the SSE during the ceremony. Kipling had intended the Wardens to own the copyright of the poem but that plan proved legally impractical and instead it was published in The Engineer in 1935 to secure the rights. Kipling’s poem “The Sons of Martha” was written in 1907 and has also been included in the readings or text of the ceremony. The Corporation of the Seven Wardens was incorporated as the custodial organization and administrative body of the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, under letters patent in the Province of Quebec on 18 March 1938. The Ritual was officially registered in the United States in 1941. Miniature obligation cards were given to obligating engineers as portable keepsakes in 1943, at the suggestion of Harold S. Johnston, the secretary of Camp Seven in Halifax. The trademark for the ring design was registered in 1961 in Canada and 1965 in the United States.

Attempts have been made to extend the Ritual for international engineers. The original intent of its authors was for the Ritual to be extended throughout the Commonwealth and the United States. Concern over preserving the integrity of the Ritual, however, led the Wardens to reject numerous early attempts to adapt the ceremony for other national contexts. Nonetheless, internationally accredited engineers have taken the obligation in Canada, usually under special ceremonial circumstances. Within Canada, the Iron Ring Ceremony has become immensely popular, so that there are currently twenty-five camps in virtually every region of the country, serving the needs of thirty-eight accredited university engineering programmes by 2007. The text of the Ritual has been translated into French as “L’Engagement De L’Ingeieur”, as have the poems “The Sons of Martha” and the “Hymn of Breaking Strain”, both of which are included in the French ceremony as in the English. Camp One has also expanded its jurisdiction, beyond the University of Toronto, so that it now serves Ryerson University (added in 1992), York University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (both added in 2007). Since 1970, The Order of the Engineer in the United States has modeled an oath ceremony on the Canadian Ritual, in which candidates also ritually obligate themselves to their professional responsibilities. The camps are called “Links” and candidates wear plain stainless steel rings to show they have been obligated. This program was approved by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2003 and has been generally condoned by the Corporation of the Seven Wardens, though the ceremony bears little resemblance to the Kipling Ritual in its particular details.

Scope and content
The fonds originates in Haultain’s office, in the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of Toronto, in his capacity as one of the Ritual’s strongest proponents and as a key player in its creation. Haultain served in numerous official capacities: as Secretary of the Seven Wardens (1930-1939); as one of the Seven Corporate Wardens (1939-1961); and as a Warden of Camp One (1926-1961), for which he was also the first chairman. As such, it is difficult to draw too fine a distinction between the records of the Kipling Ritual as a whole and those pertinent to Camp One as a subsidiary body of the Corporation of the Seven Wardens. In effect, the documents of the fonds are Haultain’s records of the Ritual first and then gradually emerge as the records for Camp One.

The research value of the records is significant regarding the origin of the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer and the social interaction between the major figures responsible for its implementation and enfranchisement in Canada. The fonds includes substantial documentation about Haultain, Kipling, Fairbairn, Ross, and most of the major figures in the EIC. Also the records offer a fairly comprehensive portrait of the interactions between mining and engineering professionals between 1920 and 1950. The material is primarily of historical value and spans the creation of the Ritual, the development of the Camps and the efforts of the Wardens to control the text and dissemination of the Kipling Ritual within Toronto, Montreal and across Canada. The material after the 1950s concerns mainly the day to day administration of the Ritual, the ordering of rings and the preparation of ceremonies in the Camps.

Most of the routine administrative documentation has been arranged in the first four series of the fonds, all of which also include some correspondence: Series 1 contains legal documents pertaining to the copyright and incorporation of the Ritual and the Wardens; Series 2 is for documents related to the drafting of the Book of Authority; Series 3 includes extensive meeting minutes for the Camp Wardens and for the Corporate Wardens; and Series 4 includes detailed financial reports and accounts. The correspondence in Series 5 includes a large number of copies and often conveys both outgoing and incoming mail. Series 6 contains primarily informal lists, ceremonial documents and various forms or texts used in actual ceremonies. Series 7 and 9 include documents that are primarily external to the main operations of Camp One, such as collected publications concerning the Ritual and correspondence with the other camps.  Series 8 contains the documentary record of the various attempts at historicizing the Kipling Ritual undertaken by the Camp and Corporate Wardens for the information of the obligated engineering community (see Note on arrangement).
Records after 1950 tend to be more related to the activities of Camp One than to the intricacies of the Corporation of Seven Wardens. Newer accessions are also less delineated than those of the first accession B1982-0023. Generally, most files created after 1965 will be found in Series 5. These more recent files often include minutes and other material rightfully belonging to other series, which, however, have been arranged in Series 5 to preserve the original chronological file order of the Camp One records and because there are typically many fewer records in these later accessions. The exception to this trend is in Accession B2009-0029, which includes comprehensive meeting minutes arranged as part of Series 3.

The fonds does not include the original Kipling letters, which were returned to the Kipling estate in 1960 at the request of Kipling’s daughter Elise Bambridge (1896-1976). The letters were added to the Wimpole Archive, which was deposited with the University of Sussex Library in 1978 on behalf of the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty (UK). The Ancient landmarks are kept by university departments affiliated with Camp One, as are the Books of Authority and official obligation lists. The original anvil for Camp One was donated by Fairbairn, but was lost in a fire in the Sandford Fleming Building at the University of Toronto in 1977. Currently the campus ceremonies use a hatch cover salvaged from an oil drilling platform, the Ocean Ranger.

Note on arrangement: In 1948 the Wardens of Camp One employed Edith Brickett to organize the files of the camp and to prepare a history of the Ritual on the basis of their content. At this time, several modes of arrangement seem to have been imposed on the records. Many new copies of original correspondence were made and the records were rearranged, at times in order to correspond with the subject categories of the history Brickett was assembling. Originals and copies were often stapled together into topically themed booklets, often in reverse chronological order. Other records—predominantly correspondence files—were ordered chronologically, some were put into miscellaneous files and others still were arranged in a quasi-alphabetical system under group headings for records pertaining to the Corporation of the Seven Wardens, the Camps Two through Ten, and finally those deemed related to Professor Haultain’s personal activity as Secretary to the Wardens, as a Camp Warden and as a Warden of the Corporation. Following the production of Brickett’s historical summary, the records again reverted to a haphazard quasi-alphabetical order and no effort seems to have been taken to maintain her ordering system. Wherever possible the file contents have been left in the order in which they arrived at the University of Toronto Archives and miscellaneous files have been reconciled within chronological series arrangements. Researchers interested in Brickett’s ordering system for the Camp One records will find copies of her index in both the case file for accession B1982-0023 and in Series 8.
Access/Use: Restricted. All records are closed for 25 years from the date of creation. Requests for access to the restricted material are to be referred to the Secretary, Camp One. Only persons authorized in writing by the Secretary, Camp One shall be permitted to have access to the restricted material during the period of restricted access and such access shall be on the conditions set out in the Secretary’s authorization.

Finding aids: The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer fonds

Related records in a different fonds: H.E.T. Haultain

Accruals:   Further accruals are expected.

Corresponding accessions: B1982-0023, B1995-0040, B1997-0008, B2009-0029