The Engineer's Department was established in 1904 by Bylaw 266 (To provide for the appointment of a Town Engineer and to define his duties). As laid out in this Bylaw, the duties of the Town Engineer included streets and their improvement and repair, sidewalks and their construction and repair, sewerage, electric light and power, the City Market, nuisance grounds (dumps) and the disposal of refuse, and the purchase of material for municipal purposes. This was a very large responsibility for one office, and over the next few years many of these functions were moved elsewhere.
In 1906 the Fire Department went from a volunteer system to a paid system, and soon thereafter it became independent of the Engineer's Department.
In 1912 a Parks Department was established, and responsibility for parks was removed from the Town Engineer, but due to a poor economy, by 1913 the Parks Department had folded and the duties were reabsorbed by the Engineer. The City Engineer oversaw parks, which included the City Market, until the Parks Department was re-established in 1947.
By 1914 the utilities (the power house, the water works, sewerage, and electric light and power) had become separate entities and were no longer the responsibility of the City Engineer.
In 1949 the Engineer's Department began operation of a gravel pit south of Mayfair Golf Course (on land later known as Mayfair Park/Hawrelak Park).
Around 1951 the department was renamed the Engineering Department. In 1952 the activities of the Engineering Department included: design, construction and maintenance of bridges, roads, lanes, sidewalks and sewage systems; scavenging and garbage disposal; traffic engineering; the maintenance of mechanical equipment; street cleaning and snow removal; maintaining a complete accounting system (excluding payroll), including capital and operating budges and cost control; making recommendations on labour issues; collaborating with City departments concerning utility matters; and related administrative duties.
In 1953 the department began setting up district yards to disperse equipment around the city and reduce travelling time. A committee of utility and construction superintendents was also set up to coordinate work on jobs.
Formerly an independent department, between 1961 and 1966 Waterworks was operated as a section within the Engineering Department.
The department had intermittent responsibility for airports. Prior to World War II the City Engineer was responsible for the Municipal Airport and Cooking Lake Air Base. From 1964 to 1965 there was an Industrial Airport division, which likely provided support to the Municipal Airport.
In 1971 the Engineering Department was dissolved when it merged with the Edmonton Transit System.