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Priority site

Canada Malting Co.

5020-5070 Saint-Ambroise Street


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History of the site

The Canada Malting Co. built a malt house in 1905 along the Lachine Canal, when the are was the largest industrial district in the country. At the time, all ships bound for the Great Lakes had to go through the canal. For transportation by train and by ship, the malting complex was in a choice location both for receiving the raw material, barley, and for sending out the processed product: malt.

The site was also used to germinate grain, particularly barley, used to make beer. The company was a major supplier of raw material for Montreal’s brewing industry. In 1963, eighteen silos were added to the complex. With the construction of a new malting plant in the Port of Montreal along the Bonaventure Expressway in the 1980s, the silos gradually fell out of use. Today, they are completely abandoned and have fallen victim to vandalism.




Specific characteristics of the site

To the west, the 11 buildings and silos from 1905, precast terracotta clay modules with stone foundations, were built by a company in Minneapolis, in the United States, a city known for its innovative grain silos. These terracotta silos are the last of their kind in North America. To the east, the 18 concrete silos were built in 1963. This is a monumental complex endowed with many construction details including its neo-Roman design; for example, the arched windows on the façade and on the upper floors at the rear of the building and the brickwork of the cornices between the floors. The building is representative of an industrial architecture that combines the work of architects and engineers.


Operations at 5052 Saint-Ambroise ceased in 1985 in favour of a new Canada Malting plant at the Bickerdike Pier in the Port of Montreal. Since then, the former plant has deteriorated to such an extent that recovery seems impossible. The site is exposed to the elements, with water infiltration that has caused serious structural damage. Nevertheless, this structure remains an emblematic landmark on Montreal’s landscape.

Current status

For the last few years, a real estate developer and a citizens group have proposed two very different projects. Renwick Development hopes to build 220 housing units, 30% of which would be for social housing. The project would also include some 60 artists studios and several green spaces. The À nous la Malting collective, which has been mobilizing since 2013, would like to see an entirely community-based project that would include 200 housing units, a daycare, community gardens, a market, a co-op café and a greenhouse on the top of the silos. Both groups have stated their commitment to preserve and restore several features of the Canada Malting Co.

Actions of Heritage Montréal

Heritage Montréal is very attached to Canada Malting co. which is a formidable witness to the brewing history of the metropolis.

In its 2018-02 annual resolution, Heritage Montréal publicly expressed concern about the historic Molson Brewery complex and heritage industrial complexes, mentioning in particular the Canada Malting located along the Lachine Canal and asking that:

  • The City of Montréal, on the occasion of projects for the former Molson brewery, is diligently adopting an effective strategy on industrial heritage, its enhancement and its reallocation within the framework of the development of the city and its neighborhoods, taking into account the reflections carried out in Montréal since the 1983 international congress of which Heritage Montréal was one of the organizers, but also achievements such as the conversion of Angus factories and foreign examples and international principles adopted by ICOMOS in 2011.

In 2019 and 2020, Renwick Development and À nous la Malting both contacted Heritage Montréal to discuss their respective projects and the potential for requalification of the industrial complex.

Heritage Montréal continues to lobby various stakeholders so that the rehabilitation of this formidable site is worthy of the importance it has for the industrial memory of Montréal.

  • Municipality or borough

    Le Sud-Ouest borough

  • Issues

    Mechanisms for protection

    Urban Development

    Urban landscape

  • Owner(s)


  • Threat(s)


    Demand for land, speculation


  • Conception

    Architects: David Jerome Spence (1905), Otto Luemberg (1950) Engineers: Barnett and Record Company (1905 terracotta silos), John S. Metcalfe Co. Ltd (1930 concrete silos)

  • Manager(s)

    Canada Malting Co. (A GrainCorp Business)

  • Categorie(s)


  • Construction year


  • Recognition status

    Building of exceptional heritage value Located in an area of exceptional heritage value

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Take action!

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News and medias

Stay tuned for the latest developments on this issue

November 29 2021

Canada Malting Co.

Quelle autre vie pour le patrimoine industriel ?

La Presse

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Join the discussion

How do you see this Montreal site? What legacy has it left us? What future can we create for it? Where to start to get there? Who wants to participate in the project?

You have questions? Want to do more, but lack the information? Consult our toolkit to learn more about the heritage of the Montreal metropolitan area, the preservation mechanisms in place and possible actions.