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On Cold Iron: A Story of Hubris and the 1907 Quebec Bridge Collapse

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4.82  ·  Rating details ·  11 ratings  ·  9 reviews
When engineering students in Canada are soon to graduate, the solemn "Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer," penned by none other than Rudyard Kipling, charges them with their Obligation to high standards, humility, and ethics. Each budding engineer then receives an Iron Ring to be worn on the small finger of the working hand as a reminder throughout their career.

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Hardcover, 276 pages
Published March 2nd 2020 by FriesenPress
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Michael Penning
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On Cold Iron is a captivating meditation not only on the responsibility of engineers to ensure public safety, but also on the very real tragedy that can occur when their duty to speak truth to power is undermined. Its meticulous attention to detail speaks to what must have been years of dedicated research. The result is a comprehensive and authoritive account of the factors that led to the 1907 collapse of the Quebec Bridge, what was revealed in its aftermath, and the lessons that could and shou ...more
Jim Nicell
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed On Cold Iron and found it not only informative, but eye opening. The author, Dan Levert, not only challenges the mythology behind the Iron Ring ceremony, but made the tragic story of the Quebec bridge collapse so vivid, real and human. Over the course of our studies and careers as engineers, many of us have faintly heard about the bridge and its relationship to the iron ring that is worn by Canadian engineers but we have rarely related what we know directly to the actions of ...more
Michel L'Hébreux
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Français
Je m’intéresse à l’histoire du pont de Québec depuis environ 50 ans. J’ai donné plus de 2 000 conférences sur le sujet et j’ai aussi écrit quelques volumes pour raconter l’histoire fascinante de ce pont exceptionnel. J’ai lu récemment le livre "On Cold Iron" de l’ingénieur Dan Levert que j’ai grandement apprécié. M. Levert a effectué une recherche approfondie pour découvrir toutes les circonstances qui ont conduit à la grande catastrophe du 29 août 1907 lorsque le pont de Québec s’est éc
...more
Sue Levert
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a taken from a hand-written review from Mary Simmons 92 years old "A true story from Canadian history. A real gem, impossible to put down, so exciting it grabs you from beginning to end. Not only is it an account of the rise and fall of the Quebec Bridge built in 1907 in Quebec, but also the story of the fate of those who planned it and the decisions that would ultimately lead to great loss of life and tragedy.
All was not lost however; the idea continued and it took much courage, braver
...more
George P
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On Cold Iron starts out with the fascinating historic details related to the foundation of “The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer” in Canada. It celebrates the beautiful wording from Sir Rudyard Kipling and its importance to the Engineering profession and society as a whole who rely on the advice. Through great detail on the 1907 Quebec bridge disaster It digs deeply into why the ritual was and is needed today.

Dan Levert takes us through the details on all the main characters and their action
...more
Shirley Woolsey
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Had me at the first chapter. Was most interesting reading how the Obligation came about.

As a right brainer the pictures and descriptions helped to carry you along as events unfolded.

The egos, the unquestioned confidence in the hierarchy, and the personalities lead to this horrible tragedy. Unforgettable reading.

I found it very engaging, got right into it. Recommend it!
Rod Hogg
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well written with a wealth of technical information regarding the first Quebec bridge and the series of blunders that ultimately resulted in the collapse in August 1907. A clear reminder of the critical importance of an engineer’s obligation to careful and conservative design and of his/her acceptance of peer review of their work.
Gerard Lahey
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you, Dan Levert, for bringing this tragic story to us and giving it the attention it deserves.
On Cold Iron will certainly go down well with the Canadian engineering community with all the interesting new details about the Ritual and Rudyard Kipling’s involvement, which together with the Quebec bridge disaster are foundational elements of the Canadian engineering culture. Beyond the interesting details, this is an important book for the engineering community in that it provides context for
...more
John W
May 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. The story of the 1907 Quebec Bridge collapse, its effect on the Engineering community and the entire country, is well told in a style a layperson can understand and appreciate. The subsequent development of the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer and the oath of Obligation, with its connection to Rudyard Kipling, is touching. The broader aftermath the tragedy has parallels to another Canadian disaster, the tainted blood scandal, some eighty years later. In both d ...more
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