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The Angus shops

Angus shops

The district of Rosemont

The technological era

The working relations

The taylorisme

The daily activities

The war effort

The decline of Angus shops



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Angus shops

In 1857, the Scottish financier Richard Bladworth Angus ( 1831-1922 ) arrives to Canada. He participates in 1880 in the foundation of the Canadian Pacific Railway. His name is attributed  to the workshops located near the railway yard which cross the district of Hochelaga..

On November 7th, 1885, in Craigellachie, in the mountains of British Columbia, the first transcontinental railway line in North America was completed by the Canadian Pacific Railway which is linking the East and the Pacific Coasts of Canada. At the end of the 19th century, the Canada's economic growth and the strong ceaselessly increasing demand for the railway transport seen to it that 2 existing workshops operated by the CPR, specially the one on on De Lorimier street, no longer meet the requirements of the railway traffic. From then on, the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, William Corneluis Van Horne, began to think about the construction of modern workshops.

The construction of the workshops began in 1902. In 1904, Angus shops cover a 47,869 hectare surface, including 76 secondary and main buildings: workshops, a wood mill, shop, a learning center, hospital, fire brigades and .... 80 KM of tracks.

The district of Rosemont

In 1892, the direction of the Canadian Pacific Railway ( CPR) thinks of building in Montreal, railway capital of Canada, a modern factory, capable of answering the increasing demand of locomotives and rolling stock . Between 1892 and 1902, the CPR acquires all the lands which will be necessary for them to establish an immense place located near its railroads , in the North of the district Hochelaga, in the South of the village of la Petite-Côte ( the future district Rosemont), and east of what will become the Plateau Mont-Royal .

Built in 1904 in the North of the district of   Hochelaga, Angus shops gave birth to a district: Rosemont.

The CPR confides the purchase of lands necessary to a syndicate steered by Ucal-Henri Dandurand ( 1866-1941 ) and Sir Herbert Holt ( 1856-1941 ). Holt, who was chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific, also cumulates strategic functions in several haulage companies urban, of distribution of energy and the financial sector. As from 1899, interests of the speculators concerns to the Crawford's land, vast agricultural domain. There's a considerable residue of lands, among which of the whole farms in the village of the village de la Petite-Cote, which was untied on January 21st, 1885 of the village of Cote-de-la-Visitation. Holt, Montreal financier of Irish origin, president of the Rosemount Land and Improvement Co ., was of use as intermediary to the CPR for the aquisition of 2553 lots of Crawford's land, situated in the North of the shops, to resell them to the workers who  want to establish  their residence.

The syndicate makes incorporate, in 1905, a new municipality which one calls Rosemont's village, name choosen by M.Dandurand, in memory of his mother, Rose Philipps.  On June 4th, 1910, Rosemont's village is annexed to the city of Montreal under the name of district  of Rosemont.

The technological era

Ancestor of our modern industrial complexes, these shops marks a net progress in the conditions of employment. We find   warmed and ventilated premises, indoor toilet, dining rooms, baseball and football  field, and  a library.  These equipments where unknown in most of the factories of  that time. The other novelty : the vast workshops, without columns, allow the production in line . The 80 kilometres of  rails carry parts through factories, illustrates the gigantic size of the Worksops. Beside the Baldwin Locomotive shops of Philadelphia,  Angus was the biggest industrial complex of North America. During the first decade, the CPR  invested more than 130 millions for the construction of locomotives.

The mandate of Angus shops was double: they had to assure the maintenance of the CPR rolling material of Eastern Canada, and they had to build on request, locomotives and new cars. Hearts of crossing and points for railroads were also made by Angus shops. As for stores, they served the whole network.

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Internal sight of the loco shop in 1930

Photo: archives of the  Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian Railway Historical Association

The working relations

The working relations weren't always set fair . Only four years after the opening of the workshops, a general strike burst. 5 aout on 1908, the strike paralyzed the workshops of the CPR through Canada. This strike which lasted about 6 months, was trigged further to the comments of the vice-president of the CPR who declared that he will not recognized the syndicate and instead, he will negotiate conditions of employment with every worker.

During this strike, half of the workers were dismissed and replaced by scabs. The strike ended on October 6th, 1908. The married employees were the first recalled.

The taylorisme

Frédéric Winslow Taylor ( 1856-1915 ) is the founder of the scientific management of the work, which made spend the art, the knowledge how to make of a small number in the knowledge redo of the biggest number by formalizing and by standardizing the methods, the tools, the knowledge. Taylor leaned on the scientific method which observes and quantifies.
He used essentially the stopwatch, segmented the tasks and separated the functions of execution and from organization, lauded the specialization. His research for improvement was based on a relation winning - winning among executants and principals, but its principles will be corrupted and his name will be associated to the excesses of methods segmenting in extravagance the tasks to improve the productivity, without real counterpart for the executant.

Angus shops served as laboratory for the taylorisme. This method wasn't very efficient because the shops repaired more locomotives than they built it. For that reason in 1912, Vaughan, general manager of the Angus, stopped to use this method. The creativity of an employee is more appreciated and more efficient for the shops, than an employee set-up as a machine.

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Adrien Hébert
Saint-Denis, France, 1890 - Montréal, Québec, on 1967

Oil on canvas
81,0 x 101,5 cms
Collection of art Museum  of Joliette, donation of Roland Dubeau

The daily activities

In the middle of the fifties, these workshops employed more than 8000 employees, divided in about twenty trade associations and professions. Most of these workers lived in Rosemont. Others could use a streetcar on  Davidson street, between  Rachel and Notre-Dame streets

Every day, thousands of workers were going through the main entrance of the on Rachel street  which emerge on the Midway, main road located the site of the workshops and which leads to the various workshops of the industrial complex.

Every week, the shops consumes about 5000 tons of steel and 3000 tons of coal necessary to feed the ovens.

From 1900 till 1950, most of the needs in material requested for the industrial activities of  Angus shops were coming from the very site. The required parts of metal were forged and hatched in the Blacksmith Shop, in the workshop of Grey Iron Foundry or to the workshop of Car Machine Shop. The finish of the wood resulted from the  Dry Kiln and from the planning Mill. The metal rubbishes resulted from the  Reclaim Dock.

All the buildings were mainly warmed by the vapor stemming from the combustion of coal and from wood. The boilers as well as the generators were localized in the Power House. The main source of energy was supplied by the Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company. Several buildings possessed their own heating systems fed with the heavy oil (Bunker C) by the intervention of subterranean reservoirs.

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Air sight of  Angus Shops in the middle of the last century

The Canadian Pacific occupies a 930 000 square meter ground.
1948 - Archive of  Canadian Pacific
Photo: archives of the  Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian Railway Historical Association

The war effort

During the Second Great War, the workshops employed  12 000 workers and were manufacturing  war material . It's from Angus shops that 1700 tanks Valentine, engines of corvettes, detectors of submarines and the other electronic devices of precision were built.

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Photos: archives of the  Canadian Pacific Railway

The decline of Augus shops

The period between 1950 and 1975 is characterized by a general decline of the activities in the railway industry. Steam engines have been replaced by diesel engines and the and necessary materials required for the maintenance of the diesel locomotives were made outside the workshops at lower prices. No major construction was built during this period. The demolition of  useless buildings (the bolt and nuts shop, the wheel shop,...) began in the middle of the 60s.

In 1959, renovations to the electric system brought the replacement of some transformers. In 1964, three of the boilers of the heating system were converted to heavy oil.

In the post-war years, the transformation of the Canadian economy will have major impacts on the railway industry, particulary in Montreal. The fifties indeed seal the superiority of the business with United States and the decline of the exchanges with Europe. This tendency, already begun at the beginning of the century, mines considerably the strategic advantage which had Montreal. With the opening of the St-Lawrence seaway, in 1959, Montreal stops being the place of transit obliged for the Canadian goods.  This had caused a major impact on the local economy, specially   the industries of transport. The development of the road network caused the ascendancy of the haulage for the transport of numerous types of products by trucks. The political choices as well as the absence of a real Canadian policy of the rail did nothing to reversed this tendency.

Between 1960 and 1970, the activities of production continued to decline. The construction of railway material stopped. Angus workshops were only repairing the railway equipment.

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Maintenance and repair of diesel locomotives , Angus shops,  1973

Photo: archives of the  Canadian Pacific Railway

In 1974, the property subsidiary of the CP, the Marathon firm, becomes an owner of land. She announces in 1976 the construction of the biggest   commercial center in the east of Canada, combined with a complexe including offices and appartments being able to accomodate 4500 persons.

The merchants of Rosemont were opposed to the project as they were afraid to lose local businesses.

In 1978, the Quebec government lets the possibility of buying the land. Two years of negotiations, during which the local pressures increase, lead to the reconfiguration of the Marathon's project  and finally to its desolation in 1980. The government of Quebec announces the purchase of the land in creating a society of mixed development (City of Montreal / government of Quebec).

The community, stimulated by the Committee of  Logement Rosemont, demand the construction of 2200 appartements including a majority of goverment housing. They had won their cause, in twelve years ,as  2900 appartements were built, among them about 1200 goverment housing.

On January 31st, 1992, the last locomotive was pulled from Angus Shops, meaningful the permanent closure of the  Angus Shops. The CP then wants to resume its residential and commercial project on the rest of the land (465 000 square meters).

But Rosemont refuses to see disappearing his main industrial park. An ambitious community project is then outlined . Negotiations between the Corporation of community economic development ROSEMONT-PETITE PATRIE'S (CDEC), the City of Montreal and the CP lead in 1995 to the division of the land in two sectors, residential and industrial representing 232 5000 square meters . The project, carried by the new  Angus Society of Development, aims at the establishment of small and medium-sized companies in an innovative domain of the environment, and at the creation of 2000 direct employments.

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Photo:Jocelyn Vachet

There are only 3 buildings of Angus shops remain today at the intersection of Rachel street East and Midway avenue.

(To the left): the former fire station  became a branch of the Society of Alcohols of Quebec (SAQ)

( In the centre): the locoshop was transformed into offices and into a  Loblaws supermarket

(To the right): the former general office, which was reorganized inside, became the offices of CP Ships and C-Truck.



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Researches: Jocelyn Vachet

Sources:    Archives of the Canadian Pacific Railway

                Archives of the Canadian Railway Historical Association

                Archives of the City of Montreal

Links of interests: CprLeftLogo.jpg (4653 octets)         logomontreal.jpg (2087 octets)      dorchester.gif (3291 octets)

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