The Academy was founded in 1987 and was one of the highlights of the celebration of the Centennial of engineering as an organized profession in Canada. Following discussions with existing professional and technical engineering societies and associations it was generally agreed that the establishment of a completely independent Academy of Engineering was essential – to constitute a forum for discussion and a vehicle for action, relative to national issues in which engineers may provide a unique point of view based on their training and experience.
A group of 44 prominent Canadian engineers were invited to become founding fellows of the Academy and the first meeting was held in Montreal on May 20, 1987, on the occasion of the Centennial Congress of Engineering when some 3000 Canadian engineers representing 25 Canadian engineering societies from all disciplines and regions were in attendance. The late Dr. Robert Legget was elected as the first President and the late Dr. Leopold M. Nadeau agreed to act as Secretary / Treasurer of the newly formed organization.
Subsequently, a charter and by-laws were approved and letters patent obtained, federally incorporating the Academy as a not for profit corporation on February 16, 1988.
Four years later, a formal Coat of Arms was granted and presented by the Governor General at its June 7, 1992 annual meeting. A logo designed from parts of the Coat of Arms was then officially adopted.
In 1991, the Canadian Academy became a full member of the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences, which is an international federation of 26 such academies throughout the world, thereby achieving the international status reserved to a limited number of well established engineering academies having accomplished a number of major projects.