Photographer's Note

Old Port of Montreal is rich in old buildings and with nice history too. For my luck Montreal have a online archive about many of these buildings at

Here I show two of these building:

1. The Allan Building (smaller one, on the right side) was built in 1858-1859. It occupies a prime location facing the harbor. The two-storey building (including the ground floor), more or less rectangular in shape, has three sections on the main façade, the central one comprising a portal facing the port. The building is covered by a gently sloping multi-pitched roof and a flat roof on the back. The gray stone of Montreal (limestone) of the exterior walls is cut in frontage.

The façade of the building has a central front and two symmetrical oblique sections, and two levels of elevation separated by a cordon and differentiated by the treatment of windows. This classic composition of mind and its architectural vocabulary are mainly inspired by the Italian Renaissance, with elements such as arched windows with clavs, their pedestal planks on the ground floor and the overhanging cornice at the top. The twin pilasters of the portico and the segmental windows of the upper floor evoke more discreetly the French way of the Second Empire. The combination of these two sources of inspiration became common in London at the end of the 1850s. However, in the absence of Mansart broken roofs clearly associated with France, the neo-Renaissance style (Italianate in English) will be more commonly attributed to such a building. For its part, the lateral addition of 1904, still inspired by the Italian Renaissance, betrays the academic influence of the French fine arts, by its rigorous simplicity incorporating elaborate ionic capitals.

From a functional point of view, the establishment of this building facing the port, its elaborate treatment, its monumental entrance and its many windows suggest that it is a prestigious office building where it is expected to receive customers. The clock adorning the facade suits the steam transport that is managed and sold there. The octagonal belvedere - originally surrounded by a balustrade - offers the opportunity to observe the arrival and departure of ships. The side gantry added in 1904 offers an inviting commercial storefront for ocean customers; a sales counter could be found there - what the directories suggest from 1912.

2. The Commissioner's Building (with the clock tower) was builit in 1874-78 and occupies a prime location facing the harbor, like its neighbor, the Allan Building. Its V-shaped plan attracts attention to the central part and its polygonal high-rise dome. The oblique buildings consist of four storeys including the ground floor and an atypical attic floor; the roof of the latter combines in fact unusually a vertical section, a narrow steep incline and a roof terrace. The gray stone of Montreal (limestone) used for the building is cut in front and on the side elevations visible from the street.

The perfectly symmetrical façade has a more elaborate central forepart than the two oblique "wings", the central tower obviously giving a particular vertical impetus to the whole. This classic spirit composition has distinctly processed elevation levels separated by moldings. These levels include elements of the Doric order on the ground floor and Corinthian floors, a decoration mainly inspired by the Italian Renaissance that remind for example the windows with aisles of the median floor. The stone tower, with its twinned and arched windows, however, stands out in its details to the point where one wonders if the same architect is at work. The roof refers to the French way of the time while revealing a freedom of interpretation.

This imposing and very fenestrated office building, with its elaborate decor, emphasizes the importance of the Harbor and Harbor Commission itself. The obvious but not realized intention of providing clocks for the central tower was also relevant in this context. The terrace also offers the opportunity to observe the port, today as yesterday. The anchor represented in the four (restored) metal bas-reliefs was at the center of the former coat of arms of the Commissaires of the Port of Montreal.

gervaso, ikeharel, jhm, pajaran has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Andre Bonavita (bona) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1361 W: 113 N: 3423] (15051)
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