Description of Historic Place
The Machine Shop, also known as Building 2, is located within the Lachine Canal National Historic Site of Canada. It is a classically inspired, one-storey, reinforced concrete building with a smooth stucco finish, a gable roof, and a small shed addition on the north wall. The building’s east and west elevations are divided into five bays by smooth tapered concrete pilasters, each of which features a large window. Machine Shop is one of several workshop buildings found on Mill Street in an industrial zone of Montréal, located to the south and at the easternmost extremity of the Lachine Canal. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Machine Shop is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Machine Shop is associated with the national historic theme of the development and maintenance of navigable routes that form part of Canada’s national system of canals. The Lachine Canal not only contributed to the economic development of Canada, both industrial and commercial, it also improved the internal navigation of the country’s waterways, and helped to support the national system of defence. The Lachine Canal workshops, including the Machine Shop, served as material storage facilities as well as repair shops, and as such played a key role in the on-going maintenance and repair of the canal. The Machine Shop is also associated with the rapidly expanding city of Montréal and the urbanization of the banks of the canal during the second half of the 19th century, when the Lachine Canal served as the principle industrial artery.
The Machine Shop is a good example of classically inspired, utilitarian building in which the structure is expressed in the exterior elevations. The building is also a very good example of a standard, open, axial factory plan which consists of well-lit, double height work spaces on either side of a central aisle. The Machine Shop is notable for its use of new methods of construction and materials, namely the use of a self-supporting steel structure erected on a concrete foundation and clad with cast-in-place concrete. The Machine Shop is one of Quebec’s oldest known industrial buildings built of concrete.
The Machine Shop reinforces the utilitarian character of the industrial zone of the Lachine Canal, which includes several similar workshop buildings from the same era, and is familiar to the local neighbourhood.
Sources: Gilles Proulx, Jean Belisle in collaboration with Christine Chartre, The Workshops of the Lachine Canal. Federal Heritage Buildings Report 90-018 to 90-023; Machine/Workshop #2, Lachine Canal N.H.S., Montréal, QC. Heritage Character Statement 90-019.
The following character-defining elements of the Machine Shop should be respected.
Its classically inspired, utilitarian aesthetic, functional plan, and good quality materials and competent craftsmanship, as manifested in:
- the classically inspired proportions and treatment of the exterior elevations including the use of pilasters to divide the exterior walls into five equal bays each of which has a large double-hung window, the smooth stucco finish of the exterior walls, and the rusticated treatment of the foundation;
- the building’s self-supporting steel structure with its cast-in-place concrete cladding which is expressed in the exterior pilasters;
- the standard, open axial factory plan with a central aisle and mezzanines;
- the open, well-lit, double height work spaces on either side of the central aisle;
- the use of durable materials such as steel and concrete.
The manner in which the Machine Shop reinforces the utilitarian character of this industrial setting, as evidenced in:
- its materials and scale, which are in keeping with the other workshop buildings from the same era located along Mill Street;
- its location in an industrial zone of the Lachine Canal.