A Short History of the Kingston Chapter

Publication Date 
01 Dec 2014
Posted to 

Kingston's historic architecture is evocative of its enduring relationship with military engineers; Fort Frontenac, Fort Henry, the Rideau Canal, and Kingston's iconic Martello towers were all products of military engineering. Echoing this relationship, the Military Engineer Association of Canada (MEAC) enjoyed a long, proud history in Kingston until its transition, under then president LCol (ret'd) Peter Dawe to the newly formed Canadian Military Engineer Association (CMEA) in the early 2000s.

The Kingston MEAC Chapter had two goals: to serve as the focal point for social and professional development amongst the local military engineer community; and to mentor the engineer officer cadets at the Royal Military College (RMC) in order to expose them to the breadth of military engineering and instill in them a sense of belonging to the Engineer Branch. There were normally four gatherings per year which featured professional development presentations on current operations. The MEAC Kingston Chapter was very effective at building morale, and promoting communication amongst all serving and former members of the Canadian Military Engineers stationed in Kingston.

At the last MEAC annual National meeting that took place on 28 June 2003 in Ottawa, it was voted that MEAC would cease to exist as a national organization; thus, officially transferring the advocacy role to CMEA and ending 90 years of service to the Canadian Military Engineers.

In the autumn of 2003, a reinvigorated Kingston military engineering community was determined to enhance its effectiveness across the full spectrum of sappers (regular and reserve force, officers and NCMs, RMC officer cadets, and retired members) and to promote continued excellence in the development of military engineering. As a result, a Kingston CMEA chapter was formed with LCol Mike Voith as its first president and the CMEA Chapter Affiliation Agreement was submitted on 16 January 2004. Under LCol Voith's leadership, the CMEA fulfilled its role of military engineering advocacy and gathering engineers for functions and bringing in high-quality speakers in order to share experiences.

Maj Nicholas Vlachopoulos assumed the presidency in 2005 of the Chapter for the next three years. Under his leadership, the Chapter branched out into the larger engineering community and joined forces for events with the Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Canadian Geotechnical Society chapters in Kingston. Maj Vlachopoulos continued to employ the successful meeting model featuring presentations on current operations and providing opportunities to expose the RMC officer cadets to the variety and complexity of military engineering tasks and missions.

Col (ret'd) Lesperance assumed the role of president in 2008. He continued to promote professional development opportunities, assisted by LCol (RE) Alexander Hay during lunchtime meetings, in a manner similar to a professional engineering society chapter meeting. Speakers were brought in from the RCMP, UK and Canadian Foreign Affairs, and the British Cabinet Office to address the Kingston Chapter. Monthly lunches, which were known as "beer and bites" became the method of gathering the local military engineers and friends of engineers. He established the MGen John Arthur Stewart Trophy for the top military engineer cadet in his or her graduating class who most exemplified the four pillars of RMC: athletics, academics, military, and bilingualism. RMC provides a memento plaque for the individual, and the trophy is maintained in the Mackenzie Building to this day.

LCol (ret'd) Stephen Kelly became president of the Kingston Chapter in 2013 when Col (ret'd) Lesperance became the CMEA national president. 1 Engineer Support Unit moved to Kingston that same year and swelled the ranks of the chapter while making welcome contributions to chapter leadership The Branch membership currently stands at approximately one hundred and counting. An executive committee representing the military engineer community in Kingston was established and an organizational meeting was held 16 April 2014. The Record of Decisions and organizational chart follows.

The Kingston Chapter executive consists of: LCol (ret'd) Stephen Kelly, President; Maj (ret'd) John Sheahan, Secretary-Treasurer; LCol Geoffrey McCarthy, Senior Serving Member; Maj Mike Avery, ESS representative; Capt Michael Ullo, 1ESU representative; MWO Marc Pacaud, NCM representative; and Capt Martin Douglas, RMC representative.