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Priority site

Craig Pumping Station

2000 Viger Avenue East

2895

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History of the site

The Craig Pumping Station was built in 1887 by architects Maurice Perrault and Albert Mesnard. Along with the Riverside Pumping Station, it was one of the few constructions with a public vocation, as most of their projects had an institutional vocation. After record floods in 1886, the Commission de Montréal decided to build these two stations at opposite ends of the sewer system in order to drain excess water into the St. Lawrence River.

The Craig Pumping Station is a vital element in the history of the district and the management of the City of Montreal’s water and sewer system. It is also one of the oldest pumping stations of its kind in North America. The detail of its architectural composition, with its stone façades adorned with a bas-relief depicting the City’s coat of arms, a cornice, a pediment, windows framed by ornamental ironwork, all crowned by a gabled roof and an imposing diagonal brick chimney, confirm the importance of this building in Montreal’s industrial heritage.

Specific characteristics of the site

Although taken out of service in 1987, it still has its all of its original components, including the underground steam pumps, a vestige unique to Montreal. It also remains one of the only buildings in this sector, along with the Patriotes-au-Pied-du-Courant prison, to have survived the demolitions that made way for the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, urban renewal in the 60s and 70s and, lastly, the extension of the Ville-Marie Expressway. Today, it is cut off from the rest of the district, on a median between Viger Avenue and Notre-Dame Street.

Threats

Out of use for over 30 years, the Craig Pumping Station is in a dangerous state of deterioration. In early 2020, the chimney had to be partially deconstructed due to the risk of it collapsing onto the adjacent thoroughfares. The building is still in search of a new vocation that would give it permanence, enhance the industrial heritage value of the Craig Station, and highlight the expertise in urban water management in the 19th and 20th centuries. Improving access to the building is another important element to consider in ensuring its successful repurposing.

Current status

Considering that the opening-up of the Craig Station can only be done in the medium term, and that the building is in need of immediate attention, there is a proposal to start emergency work in 2020 to secure the building and to put in place a protective structure. At the same time, the OCPM is currently holding public consultations on the Special Planning Program (SPP) of the Faubourgs with a view to reclassifying Centre-Sud and the Molson Brewery complex. The Craig Pumping Station is the focus of discussions to open up this sector, given that the Ville-Marie Expressway and Notre-Dame Street constitute boundaries between the St. Lawrence River and the neighbourhood.

In August 2020, Heritage Montreal and its Future Generation Committee launched the first
Innovation Competition for the next generation of urban planners. The Craig Pumping Station was chosen to be the subject under study, and the contest created an opportunity to discuss this important industrial heritage site, now under threat as a result of its abandonment and lack of upkeep. Of the 34 teams that signed on, 22 projects were submitted, an undeniable testament to the interest among students and young professionals in playing an active role to enhance Montreal’s emblematic buildings.

Actions of Heritage Montréal

Heritage Montréal has been following the Craig station file – a municipal property, since the 1990s and, following recent revelations from Le Devoir on a possible partial demolition, requested a meeting with the person in charge of municipal buildings on the Executive Committee of the City of Montréal, Mr. Robert Beaudry. This meeting took place on February 6, 2020.

Mr. Beaudry confirmed to us that emergency work would be done these days but that it will be limited to the chimney. The basis of it should remain. Remember that this chimney is the witness of the historic technology of this steam pumping station. Heritage Montréal was also able to confirm that a detailed osculation of the building will be carried out at the express request of Mr. Beaudry. We have emphasized the relevance of such a review and the importance that it be carried out by qualified heritage professionals. Finally, we agreed with Mr. Beaudry that there was an urgent need to work to resolve the development issues around Craig station. This redevelopment will help give Craig station access and meaning, even good use, and ensure a future for it, just as the Forges de Montréal kept the other pumping station from that era on Riverside Street.

For Heritage Montréal, industrial and technical heritage is a hallmark of the city. In 1983, we co-organized an international congress which changed the ways of seeing and treating industrial heritage. Currently, we are collaborating with UQÀM and other organizations for the holding in Montreal, in 2021, of the main international congress on industrial heritage. In this context, we have informed the international organizations of the Craig station file because although it is a municipal public facility, this machine building bears witness to the industrial and civil engineering era in Montréal. We strongly expect that in 2021, the metropolis will be able to welcome these international experts with achievements and solutions rather than alarming situations.

  • Municipality or borough

    Ville-Marie

  • Issues

    Mechanisms for protection

    Urban Development

    Urban landscape

  • Owner(s)

    Public

  • Threat(s)

    Vacant

    No upkeep

    Lack of knowledge

    Demolition

  • Conception

    Maurice Perrault and Albert Mesnard, architects

  • Manager(s)

    City of Montréal

  • Categorie(s)

    Industrial

  • Construction year

    1887

  • Recognition status

    Building of exceptional heritage value

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