Ever since the earliest days of Skule™, engineering students have stood out at the University of Toronto for their spirit. As far back as the 19th century, it was common for students to play good-natured jokes on their professors. All-out rivalries between Skule™ and other lesser colleges were quite common. The first known written record of the "Brute Force Committee" was in the 1912 Skulebook. At that time, the major social event of the year was the Engineering Society election night and, among the other events taking place, was the “Mill of the Gods” - a gauntlet for prospective voters set up by the Brute Force Committee. Anyone wishing to approach the polling station would have to pass through their trials before casting a ballot. The rewards for successfully completing this trial were “tobacco, pipes, fruit, and even sandwiches”. And, of course, the right to vote. This practice carried on until 1914, at which time the elections moved to a different location. The Brute Force Committee seemingly vanished afterwards.
The subsequent years saw two world wars and a depression, but Skule™ spirit remained alive, though diminished. By the 1950s, spirit was once again growing, and with it came a resurgence of the Brute Force Committee.
In 1959, a major restructuring took place. The Engineering Society placed an advertisement in the Toike Oike urging people to apply for the position of the Chief of the Brute Force Committee. They envisioned a new form of the Committee, one that would become an all-encompassing spirit organization, with the Cannon Guard and the Lady Godiva Memorial Bnad (sic) as sub-groups within the Committee. Thus the quasi-modern form of the Brute Force Committee was born. Over the next decade, the Committee took part in everything from running orientation and guarding the Skule™ Cannon to massing huge groups of engineers for pranks and showcases of spirit. Committee memberships were sold at the Engineering Stores, capers were announced in the Toike Oike, and massive groups of engineers could be mobilized at a moment’s notice for all manners of events. Before long, Ministers began to appear to help the Chief of the BFC, each responsible for a different, specific facet of the Committee’s now far-reaching operations.
In the early- to mid-1990s, Skule™ spirit was probably at its lowest point ever. But even though they did not officially exist and had to remain anonymous, the Brute Force Committee was the only force preserving Skule™’s traditions and history. Though it often seemed like nobody around Skule™ cared, the Ministers of the Brute Force Committee comprised the remaining students who still held to the conviction that Skule™ spirit and traditions were worth preserving. By the end of the ‘90s, the wave of apathy that had coloured the earlier part of the decade was subsiding and spirit was finally on the rise again. The BFC had begun to place a heavy emphasis on the frosh, putting on shows of spectacle to impress them and working hard to organize capers that they could take part in. BFC events were drawing increasing numbers of students, and despite not existing, the Committee was slowly becoming an integral (albeit unofficial) part of Skule™again. The last few years saw the capture of the Grease Pole from Queen’s University (2000-2001), a renewed rivalry with Waterloo and more capers than ever.
If there is anything that the Brute Force Committee has shown throughout its history, it is that it will always be a force to be reckoned with at Skule™ as long as spirited students still remain. You are those spirited students. Never forget our past, have fun with the present and work towards the future, and you will ensure that Skule™ spirit lasts as long as this university does.