ONNA RESEARCH + DESIGN
DELFT, NL | WORLDWIDE
INFRASTRUCTURE BIOGRAPHY OF THE LACHINE CANAL
This project was compiled as a final presentation and 20-page report comprised of two chapters. The permanence of the infrastructure in the landscape of urban Montréal is contrasted against shifting industrial demands and attitudes toward development, which have contributed to and defined its value through time.
URBAN + REGIONAL ANALYSIS.
MONUMENTS OF WATERFRONT INFRASTRUCTURE.
GRAIN FACILITIES DOMINATE THE WORKING WATERFRONT.
SILO NO. 5, Pointe du Moulin-Vert - This former grain silo was one of many constructed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Montréal to handle the immense volume of wheat coming through the city, shipped from the inland prairies of the United States to Montréal by freight rail.
Today, Silo No. 5 stands as one of the few remaining monuments to this era, at the historic terminus of the rail system and port that shaped the city and its waterfront.
LEISURE AND LUXURY DEFINE THE RIVER PROMENADE.
BOTA BOTA, SPA SUR L'EAU, Promenade du Vieux-Port - This floating spa is permanently anchored at the end of one of the piers that comprise the Old Port neighborhood of Montréal. The boat, the Arthur Cardin, was originally used as a ferry during the 1950s and 60s, sailing between Sorel and Berthier, Quebec.
Today, visitors use a locker room which formerly housed the ship’s engine, lounge in rooms with portholes out to the Old Port, and are “lulled by the natural movements of the Saint Lawrence River” during their stay.
INFRASTRUCTURE BIOGRAPHY: THE LACHINE CANAL
The second chapter, the Infrastructure Biography, tells the story of the canal as infrastructure, using maps, diagrams, architectural drawings, and text to depict its evolution throughout two centuries.
At the terminus of the Revolutionary War, parties in both the newly formed United States and eastern Canada recognized the potential vast economic value of a trade route over water between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1783, plans were formulated to begin work on a series of canals that would create an unbroken navigable route between Montréal and Lake Superior.
As a historic part of this route, the Lachine Canal runs 14.5 km through the southwestern quadrant of Montréal from the Saint-Louis Lake to the Old Port. The opening of the Lachine Canal was held in 1825, enabling the passage of small, shallow-draft boats.
It quickly became the gateway for the urbanization and industrialization of Montréal, with more than 15,000 ships using the canal annually during its zenith before the economic crisis of 1929.
SAINT LAWRENCE SEAWAY.
The canal continued to operate until 1950, when the size and draft of average ships became too great to fit through. Expansion of the canal beyond these limits was impossible, due to the density of industrial development that surrounded it. The Saint Lawrence Seaway was opened in 1959, and signaled the end of the industrial life of the Lachine Canal.
MODERN POST-INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPE.
A testament to its historic relevance to the city of Montréal, the Lachine Canal has been named a National Historic Site of Canada, and today operates as a park and monument to the industrial legacy of of Montréal.
In 2002, the Lachine Canal was opened to recreational boating, and now kayaks, paddleboats and small motorcraft traverse the canal, smaller cousins of their monolithic predecessors.