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Abandonned Buildings in Montreal | Grain elevators

April 12, 2010

Between 1900 and 1930, a total of five grain elevators were built in Montreal, Quebec, which was a location at which grain elevators had been built since 1859. All great cities have great ruins. “Along the port of Montreal”, we can read,  “there stands a large cluster of ancient, early-to-mid-twentieth century grain elevators, which have been condemmed to demolition. These structures are no longer being “used” by anyone, and they take up a large amount of “prime” urban space.”

Let’s take a look to all the five abandoned grain elevators and a brief history of each one:

1. The Windmill Point Elevator, designed and built in 1903 by John S. Metcalf.

The Grand Trunk Elevator (aka the Montreal Warehousing Company), Windmill Point, Montreal, designed and constructed by John S. Metcalf, between 1900 and 1903. Made out of steel and, no doubt, utilizing rectangularly shaped bins, this elevator could store one million bushels of grain. Small by comparison with other elevators made out of steel during the same period, the Windmill Point Elevator was clearly intended, not to store large amounts of grain in bulk (two or three million bushels), but to unload and transfer large amounts of grain from one form of vehicle to another.

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2. Elevator “B,” designed and built in 1906 by John S. Metcalf

The grain elevator #3 [aka elevator B] happens to be architecturally and historically significant (among the world’s first elevators built out of reinforced concrete). It was designed and constructed in Montreal, Quebec, by John S. Metcalf between 1903 and 1906. Like Metcalf’s Windmill Point Elevator, Elevator “B” was not so much as grain-storage warehouse (it too could only store one million bushels of grain), but a versatile transshipping elevator, capable of transferring large amounts of grain to ocean-going vessels from both railcars and lakers.

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3. Elevator #2, designed and built in 1912 by John S. Metcalf

At the same time, the port awarded the company the contract for elevator No. 2—a gigantic structure of reinforced concrete, the latest technological wonder in 1910. The remains of this elevator were conserved after it was demolished in 1978 and can still be seen. In 1923, when Montreal had become the world’s largest grain-handling port, the famous architect Le Corbusier, like other great modernists, marvelled at North American elevators in his book Vers une architecture, and mentioned Montreal’s elevator No. 2 as an example.

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4. Grain Elevator #4


The grain terminal in the Port of Montreal (Grain elevator 4), is located at the end of Viau street, is the last grain terminal in Saint-Laurent which continues to exist. It was however a time when the Port of Montreal was the main exit door of Canadian grain. The Grain elevator #4 includes a main elevator built between 1960 and 1964 and an annex built in 1982. The automated loading gallery was commissioned in 1988.

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5. Elevator #5 (aka Silo #5)

Like Elevator #2, Elevator #5 was built out of reinforced concrete and utilized cylindrical grain bins. The elevator grain No.5 is located on the Quai de Pointe du Moulin a Vent in the western part of the Old Port of Montreal. For many years, its activities were based on the handling of grain that came from western Canada and had as main destination countries in Europe. It is the last of the old silo-port among the two that were destroyed to allow Montreal to have easier access to the St. Lawrence River. The project seems to be favored by the Montreal Port Authority is the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal.

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Interesting reading [FRENCH] at wikipedia’s article Élévateurs de Montréal. We want to say thanks to Samuel García, that first mention this topic to us!!

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 12, 2010 2:54 pm

    These buildings are so beautiful – surely uses can be found for them. Concert hall? Interfaith cathedral?

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