The enormous, partly rusted, abandoned concrete structure is at first questionable in the view of the old port. Without its history, it is difficult to understand the reasons for its presence or appreciate the building. Of course, we need to go back in time to understand that the Port of Montreal’s mission and looks were totally different.
Montreal port was a busy industrial area and many transitions occurred at this location. In the first half of the 20th century, the lucrative market of grains and cereal was blooming. The connection with the waterway combined with the railway access made this place an efficient manufacturing machine where the merchandise did not even need to transition between the means of transportation.
Silo No.5, also known as Elevator B, the name of the original building, is one of many buildings used to store the merchandise to be sent overseas. However, it is one of the last ones to still stand. It sits where the backfill material from the construction of the Canal Lachine is located. It was built progressively starting in 1906 and was extended a few times, in 1913, 1924 and 1958, to accommodate demand and ease the transfer of rail to boats until 1996 when it was closed. The most visible part of the building is without windows except the lower red brick section and the very high part allows some natural lighting to penetrate the building. Part of the building presents a series of semi-cylinders next to one another which are actually 60 concrete silos.
While we recognize its historical value, the maintenance, the opulence, the transformation requirements and the new ideas require massive investments which are difficult to find. The site is currently closed unless you attend a rare pre-reserved guided tour.
If you are interested to read more on the grain industry, read Farine Five Roses.
For an overview of Montreal click here.
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For an overview on the Old Port click here.