Van Horne Warehouse – Then and Now Montreal
Van Horne Warehouse – In 1903, Wilfrid Duqette, a merchant in flour, grain, wood and coal moved his business to the village of Saint-Louis-du-Mile-End near the Mile End CPR station. In 1906, Napoléon Turcot, mayor of the village of St. Louis, made a campaign promise to build a tunnel on St. Laurent Blvd underneath the train tracks to facilitate travel to the northern part of the still undeveloped city.
The Saint-Louis city council wanted to get this done before its annexation by the city of Montreal on January 1, 1910. At the council meeting of December 14, 1909, the contract was awarded to Wilfrid Duqette for the sum of $80,000. Duquette, who’s store and warehouse were located facing the area where the tunnel would be built, was required to pay a deposit of $15,000. and to start the work within 48 hours and finish it by September 1, 1910. After several delays the tunnel finally opened to traffic on November 7, 1911.
Wilfrid Duquette tried to take advantage of the tunnel by putting his buildings and adjacent land for sale at $50,000.00 promising that being near the tunnel and the train station, all be worth $1 million within five years! In the early 1900s, one of the tenants in the building was Thomas Brothers Limited – a manufacturer of brooms, brushes and woodenware, with a manufacturing plant in Thomas, Ontario. The company went bankrupt in 1914.
In 1924 it became the building as we see it now. The large seven story, 170 000 square feet brick and concrete structure, stretching from St. Laurent Blvd. to Clark St. was built by contractors Wilfred Duquette (himself) and Patenaude.
The first company to occupy the premises was the St. Lawrence Warehousing Company owned by
Wilfrid Duquette. The building remained the property of Duquette family until 1962, when it was bought by Benaby Realties, manager of Van Horne Warehouse Inc. In 1985, John Bastian Viking Brush Co. acquired the warehouse. Bastian sold the brush company shortly afterwards but retained ownership of the building until 2007, when he sold it to a real estate management company. Over the years tenants included were Docu-Depot in the 1990s and Docudata since the 2000s.
The irregular shape of the Van Horne Warehouse and significant elements, such as its riveted metal water tower – one of the last remaining in the city – make it “a building of exceptional heritage value” in Montreal’s built landscape.
The Van Horne Warehouse is located at 1 Van Horne Avenue West /Saint-Laurent
Source: Héritage Montréal / Mile End Memories