History of Engineering Society

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T. Kennard Thomson, SPS '86:

In October 1884 I sounded the boys on the idea of founding an Engineering Society but was told that the class of '84 had taken up the subject the year before and decided that we were entirely too few in numbers, and as the prevailing opinion was against the idea, I was advised to forget it.

So I kept quiet for several weeks and in November 1884, somehow or other, I was able to persuade Professor John Galbraith, Dr. Wm. H. Ellis, most of the Classes of 1885 and 1886, together with three old Upper Canada College friends who I thought would make the evening more interesting, and they did, to attend a Supper (it was really a dinner - with two waiters from the Parliament Buildings) at 97 Hazelton Avenue, where my three unmarried sisters and myself were keeping house...

The Upper Canada College Old Boys were, my former red-headed room-mate, the late James D. Thorburn, who afterwards became a brilliant doctor, and, believe me, I never had a dull minute when he was my room-mate; David T. Symons, now an eminent lawyer in Toronto; and James Edmund Jones, now and for many years, a Magistrate at City Hall, Toronto. He is also an author and composer of music.

About 25 honoured me with their presence, without knowing why they were invited.

Incidentally, one of my class mates was so afraid that we might have a dull evening that he took me aside and asked if I would have any objection to his taking a pack of cards with him to the Supper. Of course I told him I had no objection whatever to card playing. But he never took the cards out of his pocket.

After the coffee, I suggested founding the Society and that great man, Professor John Galbraith, at once got up, endorsed the project and appointed, after speeches by David T. Symons and others, a Committee to draft a proposed Constitution. The Committee consisted of B.A. Ludgate '85 Chairman; F. Bleakley (I think); and myself.

We reported in January 1885 and the following men were elected:

President     Professor John Galbraith
Secretary     T.K. Thomson
3rd Year Rep  B.A. Ludgate
2nd Year Rep  J.R. Gordon
1st Year Rep  J.C. Burns

...After four terms Professor Galbraith felt that the Society was well established, did not need him, and advised a Student President, so H.E.T. Haultain was elected for 1888-1889.

Mr. B.A. Ludgate '85, head of his Class for 3 years was Chairman of the first Committee to draft our Constitution, and was the Third Year Representative in 1885. So, I have always thought that he should have been given the credit that was given to another in Volume I of our Transactions published in 1887...