History of Geology and Geophysics
Legislation in Alberta
The Association known as APEGGA originated in 1920 when the "Engineering
Profession Act" was passed by the Alberta Government. It had
become evident (not only in Alberta, but in other Canadian provinces
and in the U.S.A.) that there was a need to protect the public against
deficient engineering practices. Members of the Association were
known as "Registered Professional Engineers" or R.P.E.s,
and were generally represented on the governing body (Council) under
the four branches of engineering - civil, electrical, mechanical
An active member of the Association from its inception was Dr. John
A. Allan, professor of geology at the University of Alberta since
1912. Dr. Allan, a prominent geologist, joined the Association in
1920 as a Registered Professional Engineer in the mining branch.
Besides becoming noted for establishing the Department of Geology
at the University and developing the department until his death
in 1955, he was very active in the Association during its formative
years. He served on Council and became President in 1930. Much of
the groundwork for bringing geologists into the Association was
due to Dr. Allan.
Over the next ten years, development of the Association in terms
of activities and accomplishments was progressive, both for itself
and the public. Although it was not until after the Second World
War that positive steps were taken respecting inclusion of the professions
of geology and geophysics in the Alberta Act, there are indications
of interest and concern as early as 1923. In that year there arose
the problem of the right and propriety of a geologist to have the
privilege to revise a report he furnished to a mining company, if
his subsequent prospecting revealed additional data which could
cause him to change his opinion of the ultimate value of the mining
property. (The Council decided that the Public Utilities Commission,
which controlled stock selling, had the power to preclude possible
injustice that might arise in these situations.) The following year,
the Association engaged in a publicity campaign to warn the public
with respect to reports issued by oil promoters not certified by
members (R.P.E.s). The experience of several investors in the Turner
Valley oil fields justified this action.
Interest in Geology and Geophysics
In the late 1920s the discovery of oil in Alberta raised some issues
pertinent to the practice of geology. One concerned the matter of
differentiating between a mining engineer and a geologist. Both
would be registered in the mining branch, but the view was expressed
that they were widely separate professions. In 1927 Council decided
to adhere to the four basic classifications then existing (civil,
electrical, mechanical and mining), but could designate specific
subdivisions of each class, and in the case of a member whose exclusive
practice was in a particular subdivision in his class, the Council
was given power to include this speciality on his certificate and
seal. For geologists, the speciality would be "geology".
Another issue related to an influx of geologists connected with
oil drilling operations in the province. A sufficient number joined
the Association to give them representation on the Council under
the mining branch.
The definition of "Professional Engineering" in the Act
published in 1922 included (in Schedule A) the words "Investigations
relating to the examination, exploration and development of rocks
and minerals, mineral deposits, rock structure and the application
of geology to the industries of arts, or to engineering". In
the amendments of 1942, this had been changed to read: "Geological
and other scientific investigations relating to the examination,
exploration and development of rocks and minerals, mineral deposits,
rock structures and their application to industry". This amendment
suggests the beginnings of relevance to geophysics.
In 1941 increased activities by oil companies in seismic and gravimetric
exploration work led to four companies making representations to
Council in connection with licensing of foreign engineers brought
into Alberta. Council decided that party chiefs in seismic, gravimetric
and other similar types of work be required to take out licenses.
Under the "Engineering Profession Act, 1930" and the revised
Act of 1943, it was possible for geologists and geophysicists to
be registered as members of the Association, provided they satisfied
certain requirements and had certain qualifications. They were however
designated as "professional engineers".
Geologists Included in Engineering Profession Act
2.8 The matter of separate identification of geologists in the Association
began receiving consideration in 1953 as a result of representations
from geologists who wanted separate representation on Council and
who stated that many of them were unhappy with the designation of
Professional Engineer. Council took steps to ensure a geologist
member was formally represented on Council.
In June 1954 the question of relationships between geologists and
the provisions of the Engineering Profession Act began receiving
considerable attention. There was a "large gap between the
professional geologist, working in pure geology, and the engineer,
and many geologists were loathe to call themselves 'engineers'".
At that time the Alberta Society of Petroleum Geologists (ASPG)
had a membership of approximately 700, many of whom were not aware
of the facilities available to them under the Engineering Profession
Act. Membership of geologists in APEA was only 195, however. (There
were an estimated 1,000 geologists in the province.) A separate
professional act for geologists appeared an unlikely and difficult
prospect, and the Council encouraged continued cooperation and liaison
with the ASPG including having more geologists join the Association.
A committee was established and met with ASPG including on it J.
S. Irwin, P. Eng., a prominent consulting geologist and Past President
of the Association, and Dr. H. H. Beach, P. Eng., Chief Geologist
of Texaco Exploration Company and member of Council. At the meeting
more members were encouraged to join APEA, and it was pointed out
that geologists were included in the Engineering Profession Act
at their own request some years ago. Efforts were directed towards
regulation of the practice of geology as well as engineering, and
in 1955 a revised Act (although it was still entitled "The
Engineering Profession Act, 1955") was introduced as an "Act
to regulate the Professions of Engineering and Geology". In
this Act a new definition of "professional engineering"
or the "practice of professional engineering" included
references to discovery, development and utilization of natural
resources of materials and energy, and to application of the principles
of geology. The academic qualifications for membership now included
graduation from the University of Alberta in geology as well as
engineering, or from a university approved by the General Faculty
Council with respect to its program in geology.
The new Act also provided for twelve members of Council compared
to the former eight, and Council named two additional geologists
as representatives. One of these was Dr. J. C. Sproule, a consulting
geologist who was elected President in 1957.
New Act - Formal Regulation of Geology and Geophysics Professions
By 1956 it was evident that geologists and geophysicists continued
to be displeased with the terminology of "Professional Engineer"
being applied to them. In March 1956 the Board of Examiners, who
had been licensing geophysicists (as engineers), questioned whether
they should have a separate syllabus for examinations. The Association's
Act and Bylaws Committee was authorized to study the classification
of professional scientific fields within one Act, with priority
to the situation regarding geologists and geophysicists and the
use of separate designations. Representations were received from
the chemists and foresters for inclusion in the Act, but in the
course of deliberations by the Committee and development of amendments
to the Act, only the designations for geologists and geophysicists
The proposed revisions were discussed at the 1959 Annual Meeting,
and reviewed again over the next year. The report of Dr. G. W. Govier,
P. Eng., Chairman of the Act and Bylaws Committee contains the following
Executive of the Association has recently had several very satisfactory
discussions with groups representing the Alberta Society of Petroleum
Geologists and the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists.
The most recent of these discussions occurred on March 2nd when
the Association Executive had the pleasure of meeting with a Special
Committee on Legislation formed of representatives from both of
the above Societies. I have subsequently been assured that the representatives
on that committee have reported back to their Societies indicating
support for the Association in the matter of revisions to the Act.
There is now absolutely no opposition from these groups.
revised Act - an "Act to regulate the professions of Engineering,
Geology and Geophysics" was assented to in March 1960. Its
title was changed to "The Engineering and Related Professions
The major additions and changes to the Act, resulting from the wish
to include geologists and geophysicists under separate designations,
were as follows:
The inclusion of definitions for professional geologist and professional
geophysicist and the practice of these professions.
Representation on Council to consist of a minimum of two professional
geologists and one professional geophysicist.
Introduction of professional affairs committees to represent each
of these professions and advise Council thereon.
Inclusion of approved geophysics programs in the academic qualifications
required for registration (geology programs had been introduced
in the 1955 Act).
Use of the abbreviations, for the first time, of P. Eng., P. Geol.
and P. Geoph.
name of the Association remained as APEA, and because of the difficulty
in getting agreement among the membership, it was not changed to
APEGGA until a number of years later.
At that time (1960), there were approximately 300 geologists and
150 geophysicists in the Association out of a total of some 3,000
members. A proposal to change the name of the Association to reflect
geophysicists and geologists as well as engineers received considerable
discussion at the 1960 Annual Meeting, but action was deferred to
a later date. There was also concern that the new Act would require
geologists to join the Association, but the ASPG were informed that
Council's policy regarding enforcement would remain unchanged i.e.
that registration of employees would be encouraged but not insisted
upon. In response, the ASPG stated that it recognized that future
Association managements would not necessarily be committed to retaining
the moderate degree of enforcement. Similar concern was expressed
by the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG); (both
the ASPG and CSEG had set up committees to study the revised Act).
The concept of "total registration" was not endorsed,
but the CSEG, in accepting Council's policy of moderate enforcement,
also recognized that the attitude of future Councils might change.
Reclassification to P. Geol. and P. Geoph.
Following passage of the new Act, steps were taken to have geologist
and geophysicist members of the Association reclassified from professional
engineer to professional geologist and professional geophysicist.
Records of all members were accordingly reviewed by the Board of
Examiners to determine, on the basis of original registration by
qualifications in geology or geophysics, those that should have
their designation changed. Letters were sent to all members informing
them of the Board's policy:
Those registered on the basis of both educational and experience
qualifications in geology (but not geological engineering) would
be immediately reclassified as P. Geol.
Those registered on the basis of both educational and experience
qualifications in geophysics would be immediately reclassified as
All others would remain classified as P. Eng.
The above was subject to appeal by the member. Some members, for
example, may not have been fully qualified, but had qualifications
close to P. Geol. or P. Geoph, yet were not reclassified.
Some members were concerned that on reclassification they would
not be permitted to do work of a professional engineering nature.
This prompted Council to issue a statement affirming that past policy
would not change i.e. that a reclassified member could continue
to practice in his original fields provided he was qualified in
the fields concerned as required by the Code of Ethics.
Reaction of Geological and Geophysical Community
The professions of geology and geophysics can be considered to have
been legally recognized in Alberta in 1955 and in 1960 respectively.
Although at that time (1960) the two societies ASPG and CSEG supported
such legal recognition, there continued over the next 20 years an
undercurrent of opposition among segments of their membership to
such recognition and to registration in APEGGA. Some registered
geologists and geophysicists were also dissatisfied, although the
majority were strong supporters of legislation, under a single Act,
which included regulation of the practice of geology and geophysics
as well as engineering. Some of the reasons behind the opposition
of the public was viewed as being less of a basis for regulating
geology and geophysics practice than engineering practice.
The academic requirements for registration were viewed as being
Geophysicists and geologists employed in industry (large oil companies
for example) saw little need for formal registration.
The aspirations of geologists and geophysicists in the professional
as well as the technical sense would be met adequately by the
ASPG and CSEG.
In 1959-61 the APEGGA Public Relations Committee was actively involved
in discussions with the ASPG and CSEG with the aim of enhancing
liaison and cooperation with these two groups. The committee endeavoured
to explain the role of the Association with a view to encouraging
registration. These kinds of activities and discussions continued
over the next 20 years.
2.19 In October 1980 the concerns of many geologists and geophysicists
were publicly expressed at a joint meeting of the Canadian Society
of Petroleum Geologists (ASPG had changed its name to CSPG in 1973)
and CSEG held in Calgary. At that meeting, approximately 800 geologists
and geophysicists heard members of a panel speak for and against
registration under APEGGA. From the ensuing discussion, a number
of alternatives emerged, and an eight-man committee composed of
professional geologist and professional geophysicist members of
APEGGA, with Dr. Gordon D. Williams, P. Geol. as chairman, was formed
to examine these alternatives. The committee's report of 1982 recommended
several actions to correct the problems and alleviate the concerns,
including that the CSPG and CSEG establish a standing committee
to work with APEGGA on these matters on a continuing basis. It also
recommended that the situation be reevaluated in three years' time
by the standing committee with the objective of recommending one
of two courses of action:
Continue the legislation with APEGGA under a common Act of the legislature.
Lobby the Provincial Government to establish an Earth Sciences Act
for the professions of geology and geophysics to be administered
by an independent earth sciences association.
standing committee was established in 1983 (see paragraph 2.23).
However, during the process of introducing the revised Act in 1981,
it became clear that government would not entertain a proposal for
a separate act, and the second course of action was not pursued.
1981 - Revised Legislation Introduced
At about the time the above committee was active, a new Engineering,
Geological and Geophysical Professions Act was being prepared. A
revised Act had been presented to Government by APEGGA in 1975,
but deferred in light of the 1978 Government paper "Policy
Governing Future Legislation for the Professions and Occupations".
During preparation APEGGA was required to justify continued legislation
governing the professions of geology and geophysics, with the probable
alternative of having no legislation at all for these two professions.
The new Act was proclaimed in July 1981 and included, among other
items, specific clauses on scope of practice and use of the titles
respecting geology and geophysics (as well as engineering). A Practice
Review Board, with powers similar to those of the Discipline Committee,
was introduced. This Board included in its membership a professional
geologist and a professional geophysicist.
At about the time the new Act was being drafted, it was evident
that the Association's enforcement activities over the past few
years had deteriorated and the number of discipline cases was increasing.
Council therefore established a task force to study these matters
in depth. The task force, chaired by Dr. Cal R. Evans, P. Geol.,
made a number of recommendations about APEGGA establishing definitive
policies regarding enforcement of the Act and upscaling enforcement
activities generally. Formation of a second task force to deal specifically
with enforcement was recommended and put into effect by Council.
Based on the report and recommendations of this second task force,
chaired by Duncan A. Carswell, P. Geoph., Council decided that the
Association would implement an active enforcement program having
the same level of importance as registration and discipline. Reasons
for this decision were:
The public can have confidence in the expertise and ethics of members
when the title and practice provisions of the Act are enforced.
One of the reasons the Association was established and given certain
responsibilities was to enforce these provisions.
Registration and discipline are only partially effective if enforcement
is not actively carried out.
The revised Act introduced in 1981 contained more definitive provisions
on scope of practice of the three professions and use of the title
engineer, geologist and geophysicist. It should also be noted that
more active enforcement was one of the recommendations of the Williams'
committee on professional registration (of geologists and geophysicists).
Geology and Geophysics Liaison Committee Established
The recommendation of the Williams' committee that a joint committee
be established was adopted in early 1983. Following a series of
restructurings, it was designated as the CSEG/CSPG/APEGGA Liaison
2.24 The Liaison Committee held a series of meetings over the 1983-86
time period. Several issues of significance and concern to geologists
and geophysicists were brought forward and acted upon:
Registration of geologists - the CSPG proposed a Canada-wide accreditation
system as a standard for measuring academic requirements for registration,
similar to the system for engineers. The proposal was generating
attention and discussion by the Canadian Geoscience Council and
other organizations. (See Chapter 6)
Registration of geophysicists in Alberta - the academic requirements
for registration were perceived as being unduly narrow. This issue
evolved into development of a revised geophysics syllabus of examinations
which was drafted by a specific subcommittee of the Liaison Committee.
(See Chapter 4)
Scope of the practices of geology and geophysics and exemptions
from these practices by certain persons needed better definition.
Amendments to legislation were at that time being prepared, and
further revisions proposed by CSEG and CSPG were included.
Enforcement - the active enforcement program that was being implemented
following the Carswell report (paragraph 2.21 above) was considered
to be unnecessarily severe against individuals and companies reported
to be engaged in the practice of geology and geophysics. This
concern led to a modification of enforcement procedures against
such individuals and companies. Several potential enforcement
cases were placed on hold by APEGGA while these procedural modifications
were being developed.
The CSEG/CSPG/APEGGA Liaison Committee has proven an effective mechanism
for dealing with the concerns of professional geologists and geophysicists
within APEGGA. It remains in being as a viable entity with its major
objective being: " To review, with APEGGA, issues of concern
relating to the practices of geology and geophysics as regulated
by, and administered under, the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical
Professions Act, and to strive for the resolution of such issues
for the general improvement in the standing of these professions
within APEGGA." Complete terms of reference are contained in