Doing what twentysomethings do.

Montreal, QC

Summer 2008

The desolation of rural Nova Scotia is an amazing catalyst for developing relationships, and during my tenure out east I made some friends that are easily top 10. One friend in particular, is very proud of her hometown Montreal and didn't want to hear any of my excuses as to why I couldn't visit in the summer.

It was around the same time that my friend was inquiring me about visiting him in T Dot. My complaining about money began to lose merit with my T Dot friend when he got word that I had just went on a 9 day road trip across the Eastern Seaboard.

The fact that two other great friends happened to be visiting my friend in Montreal led me to consider yet another road trip as I would kill four birds with one stone.+

So it was, that after coming home from my 'I'm not leaving the U.S. on my own accord' road trip, I spent a mere 11 days at home (this is when I visited that school), before leaving to meet up with my college friends in Montreal and my biking friend in T Dot.

I arrived in Montreal around 4, we had some dinner; we got cleaned up; we took taxis to a comedy show and then went to Mount Royal+ afterward to take in the view of the city from the chalet at the Kondiaronk Belvedere+. Even though it wasn't my typical night+, it was still a great night. I can't recall what we did after the lookout, but eventually the night ended with my own personal room+.


Over the course of a drink at the comedy club, my boy Okposo+ asked what I had in mind to hit in Montreal and I told him that I had no plans for that kind of business.

He bought that about as much as your girlfriend does when you tell her that you don't find her sister attractive.

I knew he could see right through the bluff, so I just went ahead and told him my plans - he had been with me to Têleglobe in Nova Scotia, so I knew he could handle his business.

He promptly let Darya+ and James+ know and our group swelled to 4.



^I don't care for this picture because of the way I had to stitch it together (it's a panorama of 4 pictures),
but I absolutely had to show the subtle, yet beautiful, brick detail of Canada Mälting.

The Canada Mälting Plant was designed by David Jerome Spence in 1905. Spence was a Kentuckian+ who attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris. He designed structures around Montreal such as the Linton Apartments (1906), Unity Building (1913), Seagram House (1929) and Square Gallery (1932). He also designed the largely demolished Mount Sinåi åsylum campus.

The purpose of the Canada Mälting Plant was to accept grain from ships at the Låchine Canal and to distribute the grain to various customers throughout the city. Now the properties of grain have always made it a tricky commodity to store. In temperate climates such as the United Kingdom and North America, the grain has to be churned occasionally to prevent fermenting and to maintain its quality. This churning preserves quality, but it also disturbs grain dust which readily mixes with air into a dangerous combination which is tremendously combustible.

It was for this reason, that from approximately the 1840s (when grain elevators were invented) until the 1890s, the wooden grain elevators of North America were very costly to insure and had an average life span of 4 years. This obviously wasn't very economical, so engineers and architects began to look to other building materials. Firstly, they took to steel in the construction of a few silos. Steel would seem better, but it was more costly and as a fire in Fort Williams, Ontario+ would show; steel melted and damaged just the same as wood from the explosive force and heat created by grain dust, air and a spark.


During the first decade of the 20th century (1900-1910), engineers began to plan the construction of elevators using fire proof tile, or terra cottå, silos. Ernest V. Johnson designed a system of tile bin construction, which was patented and used by the Bårnett & Record Co. of Minneapolis, MN.

The tile bin elevators were completely fire proof and provided greater resistance to temperature changes - which allowed the elevators to be exposed to the elements without a steel insulator. The problem with the tile bin elevators was competition, as concrete came into favour at about the same time. The concrete silos were easier to construct and maintain because they were one unit. The tile bin elevators took longer to construct and required greater maintenance because of the mortar which held together the tiles in their design.

The Historic American Engineering Record states that, "Tile bins introduced at the turn of the century were already considered obsolete by 1913."

The fact that tile bin elevators were only constructed during this small window of time and therefore, only exist in small numbers; exhibit why Canada Mälting's terra cottå+ silos are fascinating.

While a lot of sources love pointing out that Canada Mälting has the only tile bin elevators in Canada; another source said they were built throughout the Midwest, Northeast U.S. and throughout Canada. Therefore, I'm not sure which to believe as I can't hop on a plane to Minneapolis tomorrow and take a look at the Bårnett & Record Company archives.

I did read that Buffalo, the grain storage capital of the world, constructed a total of 37 elevators+ in their history. Of these 37 elevators, only 2 were tile bin elevators - which should speak to their rarity. One of the Buffalo tile bin elevators has since been destroyed and the other still exists as part of the Generål Mills Complex (although now sheathed in cement).

The only other tile bin elevator I could find was the Pïllsbury A Mill in Minneapolis which is vacant but (hopefully) awaiting redevelopment.


I left Daryas & Ashleys the next morning before anyone else was ready. I left early to take a quick run over to Canada Mälting to see how sketchy the place was and if there were any entrances.

The plant sits amongst well maintained parkland, but there is quite a bit of vegetation. I took a walk around and all I could find was the possibility of squeezing underneath a metal wall; as all doors and courtyard entrances were sealed with welded pieces of metal. I got on all fours and squeezed partially underneath the metal sheet and it was an incredibly tight fit - I reasoned that I could do it if necessary and went back across the city to pick up Okposo, Darya & James.


I arrived back at the apartment and explained the situation. I asked Darya if she had a shovel and we checked her basement crawlspace, which I believe had every other tool besides a shovel. Okposo recommended that we should buy one just to be safe, so we were off to Canadian Tire+ first, then onto Canada Mälting.

When we arrived, I took a look at the hole and got on all fours again (that is what you see in the picture above the above picture; no I didn't take a self portrait when I was there alone). It was definitely tight and I could feel my love handles squeezing and becoming more and more snug with each push forward. I began to freak out a bit and backed frantically out.

The 3 men then took to shoveling and distributing the Earth - along with intermittent attempts whenever we made significant progress. Eventually Darya suggested that she should go first, because she is much smaller than any of us three men, and then she could be passed the shovel and remove dirt from the other side as well.


Darya easily climbed under the wall and began to remove dirt from the other side.

The hole/tunnel was now a satisfactory size and I was next to go. Once you were under the vertical sheet of metal, you were pinned between a concrete wall on your right and a pair of metal sheets on your left. Between the two objects, your hips fit uncomfortably and you quickly realized to turn onto your side once halfway and then shimmy into the courtyard.


I don't have any Montreal connections, so I simply assumed that once you got in the courtyard, that there would HAVE to be a way into the plant - why would they double seal it?


Therefore, I walked around and admired graffiti as the rest of group took to looking around for entrances. I did this because I assumed they would find one and we'd move on and I would miss some paint from the greatest graffiti city in Canada.


The number of canvasses and the minor number of painters in the D leads to a lot of quality spots remaining bare. That really varies in Montreal it would seem and it was apparent as every possible spot that could be reached in the courtyard, was reached, and was painted.

I often walk places in the D and think that it would be cool if someone painted this and that clever spot. It was awesome to see similar setups, and even possibilities I didn't even think of, being painted in Montreal.


A few minutes passed and of course my courtyard assumption couldn't have been any further from the truth. We found a wall hole which was far too small for any of us and the only other option was climbing up to a floor with a couple holes in it.

We started with the one floor hole and began to gather bricks to build a pile which we could climb up from. This was going ridiculously slow and we abandøned that plan.

From there we took a look at the other floor hole and the available climbing pieces. I took a shot at first and came close, reasoning that it was definitely doable. Okposo took to it and reached the floor above us. We had reasoned that there had to be a ladder, or a shelf, or a desk, which he could throw down and make our lives easier.

There wasn't. I realized that the only way I was getting up was to climb the same collection of girders and pipes that he did. The original plan was to gather enough pieces of junk to make it easy for Darya to climb up, but that plan wasn't looking promising; so while I had my doubts, we decided to see if she could climb up the way Okposo did.

Darya gave it a heck of a try, but there just wasn't enough arm strength in her to make it.


Once we found that Darya couldn't make it this way, I asked James if he was going and he wasn't having any part of the climb - he & Darya were going to remain in the courtyard.

I felt bad that they wouldn't join me, but I still wanted to check out what I could of this tasty location. I made the tricky climb and found myself on the sketchy wood floor of aforementioned holes. From there we made our way over to one room and then into another as it appeared that again, we were contained in place.

We continued to search on how to reach the other parts of the building as we were only in a two story building which connected the tile bin elevators and some sort of sorting building (the square building with the beautiful brick from above).

Eventually I found, in the corner of a random room, a collection of pipes which led to a car tire sized hole cut out of a metal sheet. This hole, which was 3 feet off the ground, led to another room where I could finally see a staircase.

I climbed through but it involved me straddling a piece of metal and physically moving my legs with my arms as they were past their point of stretching. I didn't find it that hard, but Okposo said he was out and that I could go ahead and to take my time.

I was disappointed, but I continued.
(I later learned that he didn't climb atop that sharp metal because he was wearing shorts - which made complete sense and explained his behaviour.)


The staircase I could see from the hole went up for a half floor and then was missing a complete flight of stairs. Great.

I climbed back down and moved through a few more areas. I was now inside a more substantial building and there were more places to look and explore. I came to a tunnel-like room where I crouched and moved along; this led to yet another staircase which was missing its own complete flight.

I could have held onto the sides and climbed over the missing stairs, but I figured there had to be a better staircase.


I returned through the small room and through the rooms with the green triangles that you see above. I left my camera on my tripod as I was trying to take pictures and also trying to hurry to the top as I knew the rest of the crew were waiting patiently in the courtyard.

Towards the far side of the building, I came to the above set of stairs, which had some missing steps, but at least wasn't missing any complete flights.

To further complicate the matter, this staircase had windows at each halfway point which overlooked an auto shop next door. I figured it wouldn't matter once I was a little higher in the building, but for the first few floors, it was a mix of trying to navigate missing stairs and avoid being seen from the windows.


There were points when 3 or 4 stairs were missing in a row, or other instances like the above picture, where I pondered just how dumb this was. The false sense of security within this young man had me continuing on; but I also figured that you have innumerable amounts of people visiting this place and that if I was careful and watched where I stepped, that I would be fine.

I also chose to ignore the voice that was reminding me that the average Frenchman probably isn't 240 pounds. Then again, I wish I thought of the amount of poutine the average Frenchman consumes - that may have settled me down a bit.


The quality graffiti continued through the upper levels, exemplified by these outstanding characters.

I would try to figure out the name of who paints these, but the graffiti forum I frequent has their Montreal forum in (mostly) French .


Slowly but surely, I avoided the holes and weaknesses of the ever worsening stairs until I had finally reached the roof. With the rest of the crew in the courtyard, this had to be quick, so I had hurried to the roof.


I couldn't have asked for a nicer day. Blue skies, a summer breeze and partly cloudy conditions all complimented the beautiful city before me.

It was amazing up there, but there wasn't much time to waste.

I yelled down to the courtyard and took some pictures of the crew 9 stories down, while they took some of me 9 stories up.


I quickly peeked into a few of the mechanical rooms adjacent to me...


...and even the mechanical rooms had possible roof entrances.

Throughout the building, I continued to see things which would have been fun to climb and different areas which I would have loved to go through; but the group waiting in the courtyard made me move with haste and return to them.

Once I got down to the second floor, I got their attention for a hand down to the ground level before we made our way back beneath the metal wall and to the car.

Canada Mälting is currently owned by a real estate company without plans for its future. The amount of decay leads you to believe that it will eventually vanish from this planet.


We dropped James off at a subway stop so that he could go meet Ashley before we continued on as Darya wanted to show me some more grain silos.

To the best of my memory, we were driving along Pie IX+, when I saw this wall covered in graffiti and also a building I wanted to take a picture of. We parked the car and took a walk and I noticed that the wall was for a disused tunnel.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the above NORM, who is a member of MSK, a ridiculous graffiti group that I always enjoy seeing.
(Plus I always enjoy when I see graffiti guys who are known to me, but haven't been to the D).


The fence was wide open and we strutted into the tunnel.

While I've never actually went about it, I've always had a thing for tunnels like this that you find in places like NYC, Minneapolis and definitely Montreal; therefore, I was in heaven.

To my utter disgust, I took the above picture, then tried to turn off my camera and found that dirt from Canada Mälting was jamming the retractable Carl Zeiss lens. "Oh you motherfucker!" I was not impressed. To find a place like this and then have my camera jam? Oh boy!

Regardless, I was still interested, so we continued on. We quickly reached a portion where the main roadway was covered in water, so we hopped atop the deck that you see to the left in the above picture. Continuing on, the tunnel began to rise and the water level fell. There were little slots in the walls on the other side (where the water was), which showed another tunnel besides ours. I cursed my lack of waders, all while admiring the spray painted faces thoughtfully placed on certain slabs of concrete where you would tend to shine your flashlight.

We eventually reached the end of the tunnel; which was a set of stairs up to the surface. The road wasn't underwater anymore by this point and we dropped down, walked across the road and into the adjacent tunnels and chambers.

There wasn't much excitement in the other chambers, so we returned to the main tunnel and departed.


We had exhausted the afternoon and now it was time to get back for dinner. I tried another new French 40 (10% Black Ice) to pre game for the night while awaiting some savory taco wraps.

The 40 of Black Label was god awful. Now that I've had Labatt Blue 10.5% 40 and Black Label 10% 40, I'm learning that Canadians don't know how to do high percentage malt liquor. Evil Eye/Camo/211+ are all tasty and enjoyable, while the Canadian 40's taste like you're drinking a beer that had been mixed with some boxed wine.

Yuck!

3.5/10 Forty Necks.


After dinner and pre-gaming, Darya, Okposo and I headed out on the town to some place that had a ridiculous 4 story wood deck contraption. It was a Tuesday and there was a steady drizzle, so it wasn't busy by any stretch of the imagination, but it's always fun to drink with friends.

I was hungry afterward and stopped at this pizza place. I was enamored with the fact that you could buy a pitcher with your meal, at a location that was very similar to Pizza Plus or Slices+.


The menu also had some interesting items like a spaghetti pizza, which is exactly how you picture it - a pizza crust with cheese and sauce & then slap a spaghetti-with-sauce meal atop.

The French sure love their food combinations.

I devoured my poutine and slept a good sleep in my computer room.


The next day was more of a touristy day in La Belle Province.

En route to see a building I wanted to see, we happened onto the F1 track as Darya didn't know where she was going+.

Oh well, driving on the track was something different; too bad the 30 km/hr speed limited my ability to test the Intrepid's Brampton, Ontario+ engineered steering and advanced handling.


After being unable to see it during my visit with Ashley at Christmas, I was happy to finally see Habitat 67.

"Its design was created by architect Moshe Safdie based on his master's thesis at McGill University and built as part of Expo 67." -Wikipedia


After our quick stop at Habitat 67, we continued on to Olympic Stadium to search for those famous quarterpipes and also to visit the zoo!


Danger - Do not touch the otter!


The zoo was interesting and I took about a million pictures, but it's not really my style to post zoo pictures.

One of the more fascinating parts was the penguin exhibit where there had to 50 penguins and amphitheater seating; allowing you to sit down and watch penguins hop from rock to rock and also torpedo across the water in the middle.


After the zoo, we walked around Olympic Stadium with my bicycle for a bit, but couldn't find those quarterpipes somehow. Afterward I looked it up and they were in the one place that we ruled that they 'couldn't be at'.

Next, we skipped over to the Old Forum+ as that was another thing we wanted to see. It is a reuse of The Forum, but it is odd. Theatres, Future Shop, a liquor store - definitely a strange feeling and not what I expected when I had pictured visiting for the longest time.


Outside there are 24 bronze markers in the cement - one for each of the Canadiens' Stanley Cups won at the arena. While I'm nowhere near a Canadians fan, I am a huge Jean Beliveau+ fan. Therefore I took to finding the markers with Le Gros Bill+ engraved while James was trying to get a picture of me standing near the Montreal over Boston marker.

(Why am I a Beliveau fan? My uncle influenced my likes in my early years and while I no longer like his Habs, I still love Jean Beliveau - he is just too much of a class act, and I wish...WISH he was a Bruin instead.

If I could have dinner with any 3 people? Jean Beliveau is definitely one of them! )


After the Forum, it was time to head back to the apartment once again. James and I both reacted when we saw the above car in front of my mine.

I'm not one for possessions, but I'm going to be impressed when someone is driving a Maybach+ in front of me.


The night would pass and it was onto the next morning. I woke up somewhat early as I would be driving down to Tøronto to meet up with another friend. I bid adieu to Darya and James through hugging, before trying to give Ashley the handshake to no avail. (Okposo had caught the early flight back to Halifax.)

It was back onto the highway and the Canada Mälting plant stood out like a sore thumb from the highway. How did I not notice that on my way into Montreal? Anyway, my top 10 cities+ is dominated by grimy, working class, rust belt cities; but Montreal is an anomaly at #2. A city with a great economy and great nightlife, it comes to number 2 on my list because of its culture, architecture and history.

It definitely does pretty good for a Canadian city. It never disappoints.

In T Dot, I would spend a good 5 days riding Iceland+ daily.

We did head to the Røchester Subway though.

Navi

(Thanks to Dale, Darya & Ashley for the hospitality. I hope to see you again, sooner than later, and you always have a place to stay...too bad it's in Newfoundland!)

Sources:

1 - Industrial Architecture of Montreal - Jerome D. Spence.

2 - Grain Elevators of West Texas - Kylan Sanders.

3 - Wikipedia - Terra cottå.

4 - Buffalo as an Architectural Museum - Greåt Northern Grain Elevator.

5 - Buffalo as an Architectural Museum - A History of Buffalo's Grain Elevators.

6 - Emporis - Pïllsbury A Mïll Tile Elevator.

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