Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer

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Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer
Location(s)28 camps throughout Canada
Inaugurated25 April 1925 (1925-04-25)
FounderH. E. T. Haultain, Rudyard Kipling[note 1]
ParticipantsGraduates of a Canadian engineering programs, engineers
  • Recital of the Obligation
  • Conferral of Iron Ring
Organised byThe Corporation of the Seven Wardens

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer (French: Rite d’engagement de l’ingénieur) is a private ritual, authored by Rudyard Kipling, in which students about to graduate from an engineering program at a university in Canada are permitted to participate. Participation may also be permitted for Canadian professional engineers and registered engineers-in-training who received training elsewhere. The ritual is administered by a body called The Corporation of the Seven Wardens.[1] As part of the ritual each participant is conferred the Iron Ring.


H. E. T. Haultain first proposed to create a ceremony emphasizing a standard of ethics for engineers.
Rudyard Kipling authored the obligation that is recited at the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer.

The ritual traces its origins to professor H. E. T. Haultain of the University of Toronto, who believed and persuaded other members of the Engineering Institute of Canada that there needed to be a ceremony and standard of ethics developed for graduating engineers. This was in response to the Quebec Bridge Disaster in which 75 workmen died due to faulty engineering calculations and miscommunication.[2] The ritual was created in 1922 by Rudyard Kipling at the request of Haultain, representing seven past-presidents of the Engineering Institute of Canada.[3][4] The seven past-presidents were the original seven wardens of the corporation.

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer has been instituted with the simple end of directing the young engineer towards a consciousness of his profession and its significance, and indicating to the older engineer his responsibilities in receiving, welcoming and supporting the young engineers in their beginnings.

— Rudyard Kipling, from notes by Dr. J. Jeswiet[5]

An inaugural ceremony was held in the evening of 25 April 1925, at the University Club of Montreal, when the obligation was taken by six engineers,[note 2] some of whom were involved with Kipling in its development. On 1 May 1925, three of these newly obligated engineers[6] met at the University of Toronto with a number of the officers of the Engineering Alumni Association and obligated 14 of them in the Senate Chamber of the university becoming the first local chapter (referred to as a camp) to do so. Fairbairn met with Harry F. McLean, president of Dominion Construction and Kipling in Montreal at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel to discuss the details of the ritual. Fairbairn later visited McLean at his home in Merrickville, Ontario, to secure a sizeable donation from McLean, philanthropist, on behalf of the Corporation of the Seven Wardens, the custodian and administrator of the ritual, to ensure its survival.

The Ritual and the conferring of the Iron Ring continues to be administered by The Corporation of the Seven Wardens Inc./Société des Sept Gardiens inc. through camps[7] associated with the universities granting degrees in engineering in Canada.


The ritual takes place separately at individual Camps across Canada usually situated near an engineering university. The ceremonies are separate, organised by one of 28 camps of the Corporation of the Seven Wardens for administrative purposes.

The Obligation, which is not an oath but a solemn expression of intention, is subscribed to at the ceremony. The Obligation essentially states the duties and responsibilities of the engineer. Following the Obligation, the Iron Ring is placed on the little finger of the working hand,[3] and is worn by the engineer as a symbol and a reminder. As originally conceived, the engineer's iron ring rubs against the drawings and paper upon which the Engineer writes and even in modern times, serves as a reminder when working on a computer.

Previously, a biblical passage was quoted: 2 Esdras, Chapter 4, Verses 5–10. More generally today, Kipling's poem the Hymn of Breaking Strain is recited.

The Obligation is private, though not necessarily secret.[8] However, it is customary for those who have gone through it to not discuss the details of the Calling with others, even engineers from other countries. The ceremony is open only to candidates, those who have already undergone the ritual and at some sites, guests invited by candidates.[8]

I (long dotted space for name) in the presence of these my betters and my equals in my Calling, bind myself upon my Honor and Cold Iron, that, of the best of my knowledge and power, I will not henceforward suffer or pass, or be privy to the passing of, Bad Workmanship or Faulty Material in aught that concerns my works before mankind as an Engineer, or in my dealings with my own Soul before my Maker. (paragraph break) MY TIME I will not refuse; my Thought I will not grudge; my Care I will not deny toward the honor, use, stability and perfection of any works to which I may be called to set my hand. (paragraph break) MY FAIR WAGES for that work I will openly take. My Reputation in my Calling I will honourably guard; but I will in no way go about to compass or wrest judgement or gratification from any one with whom I may deal. And further I will early and warily strive my uttermost against professional jealously and the belittling of my professional colleagues in any field of their labour. (paragraph break) FOR MY ASSURED FAILURES and derelictions I ask pardon beforehand of my betters and my equals in my Calling here assembled; praying that in the hour of my temptations, weakness and weariness, the memory of this my Obligation and of the company before whom it was entered into, may return to me to aid, comfort and restraint.
The obligation spoken at the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer

As part of the preparation for the ritual, candidates are instructed not to discuss the details of the ritual with the media. A reminder of this is provided at the end of the ceremony in the form of a written instruction that states: "The Rule of Governance provides that there shall be no publicity in connection with the Ritual." [8]

Commemorating the 75th anniversary, the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer domestic-rate stamp was issued on 25 April 2000. Designer Darrell Freeman's "head-to-foot" layout incorporates the symbolic iron ring that is presented as part of the ceremony. The ring also visually links the four engineering achievements featured on this stamp.[9]

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer has a very simple purpose: To direct the newly qualified engineer toward a consciousness of the profession and its social significance and indicating to the more experienced engineer their responsibilities in welcoming and supporting the newer engineers when they are ready to enter the profession.[10]

The ring symbolizes the pride which engineers have in their profession, while simultaneously reminding them of their humility. The ring serves as a reminder to the engineer and others of the engineer's obligation to live by a high standard of professional conduct.[10]

Iron Ring[edit]

Iron Rings are presented to those who have undergone the ritual.

The Iron Ring may be made from either iron or stainless steel. Presently, only Camp One of the Corporation in Toronto continues to confer rings made from iron; stainless steel rings are conferred at all other locations across Canada. The Iron Ring does not certify a person as a Professional Engineer,[1] which requires registration with a relevant professional organisation followed by examination and practical experience.


The Corporation of the Seven Wardens (French: Société des Sept Gardiens) is the body that holds the rights and the duty to carry out The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer. It is organised into 28 regional branches, called camps, numbered by order of establishment. The term camp is used to describe these regional branches because it conveys a smaller, close-knit sense of community.

Camp Associated universities[11]
1. Toronto
2. Montreal
3. Kingston
4. Saskatoon
5. Vancouver
6. Edmonton
7. Halifax
8. Winnipeg
9. Fredericton
10. Quebec City
11. London
12. Ottawa
13. Hamilton
14. Windsor
15. Waterloo
16. Sherbrooke
17. Guelph
18. Calgary
19. Moncton
20. St. John's
21. Thunder Bay
22. Sudbury
23. Victoria
24. Trois-Rivières
25. Regina
26. Kelowna
27. Charlottetown
28. Prince George

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The idea to create a ceremony that emphasized the standards of ethics for graduating engineer originated from Haultain. Kipling authored the obligation that is recited at the ceremony.
  2. ^ R.A. Ross, Consulting Engineer, acting as the Senior Supervising Engineer of the ceremony; J.M.R. Fairbairn, Chief Engineer, Canadian Pacific Railway; Harold Rolph, President, John S. Metcalf and Co., Consulting Engineers; N.M. Lash, Chief Engineer, Bell Telephone Co.; J.M. Robertson, Consulting Engineer; and John Chalmers, Engineer for John Quinlan & Co., Contractors.


  1. ^ a b "The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer ", The Corporation of the Seven Wardens, Retrieved 4 April 2010
  2. ^ Marsh, James H. "The Quebec Bridge Disaster". The Canadian Encyclopedia. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Order Of The Engineer-History ", Order of the Engineer.org, Retrieved 4 April 2010
  4. ^ "Engineer-in-Residence/ Iron Ring Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine", Professional Engineers Ontario, Retrieved 4 April 2010
  5. ^ Dr. J. Jeswiet: Information Relevant to the Iron Ring Ceremony Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Dr. Ross, Dr. Fairbairn and Mr. Rolph.
  7. ^ "Camp Contacts - The Iron Ring". www.IronRing.ca. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Compiled by Dr. J. Jeswiet, "Information Relevant to the Iron Ring Ceremony Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine", 22 November 2001; Retrieved 4 April 2010
  9. ^ "Commemorative Stamp-Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, 1925–2000 ", Canada Post, 25 April 2000; Retrieved 4 April 2010
  10. ^ a b "The Wardens of Camp One - The Calling of an Engineer". www.Camp1.ca. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Contacts/Camp Secretaries ", The Corporation of the Seven Wardens, Retrieved 19 January 2011

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]