Then & Now Montreal – At the turn of the 20th century the clothing industry was a booming business with many small shops located around St. Laurent Blvd. In order to attract industries, some municipalities offered tax exemptions to businesses willing to occupy vacant lots in their areas.
As an incentive to set up shop in the Municipality of St-Louis (an area annexed by city of Montreal in 1910 which eventually became known as Mile End), John W. Peck & Company Ltd., a clothing manufacturing company was offered a 20-year tax exemption from the municipality on the condition that Peck & Co. build a quality factory and hire locals. At the time of this offer, Peck was the second largest clothing manufacturer in Montreal. Designed by architects Joseph Perrault and Simon Lesage, a four-storey building would be constructed on the site of a former quarry, owned by the Beaubien family. Construction started in 1903, and opened for business in 1904. In 1905, the company employed 126 people. The following year, the number of employees increased to 300, of which 183 were locals.
The building’s architecture was considered a model for factory buildings of its day. The original wing, four storeys high with a raised basement, had a wood structure and brick bearing walls on stone foundations. The main façade on St. Laurent Blvd, has a recessed central section for the entrance. High ceilings, and many large windows, ensured that work spaces had abundant natural light and good ventilation. In 1913, in order to increase the number of employees to 800, the building was extended toward St-Dominique St.
John W. Peck died of heart disease on 26 May 1920, leaving his wife, daughter and four sons. However, his death did not mean the end of his company for another 10 years.
The company closed its doors in 1930, but the building continued to be occupied into the 1980s by several smaller clothing manufacturers until the decline of this industry. Starting in the 1980s, space was rented to artists and professionals. Discreet Logic, a designer of animation software for the film industry, occupied the top floor from 1993 to1997, before moving to Griffintown. The vacant space was immediately taken up by UBISOFT, a French video game company. Since the early 2000s, the building has been renovated and UBISOFT now occupies the entire building. In 2013, Ubisoft, in partnership with the Montreal Design Office, made significant renovations to both the interior and exterior of the building. The original water tower was removed, but the exterior retained most of its original features,
The Peck building is located at 5505 St. Laurent Blvd in Montreal
Source Mile End Memories / Friends of Saint-Laurent Boulevard, 2011 / Mtl Gazette
By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca