William Collector

Where: Montreal, QC.

Date of construction: 1832 - 1838

William Collector. (Source: Pointe-à-Callière Museum)

Site Location: Lat.: 45° – 30’ – 14” N.; Long.: 73° – 33’ – 8” W. (GPS: 45.5025678, -73.5562479). Pointe-à-Callière Museum (Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History), 350 Place Royale, Montreal, Quebec. Take Autoroute 720 Exit 6 and, after driving 1.1 km and merging onto Rue Saint-Antoine E, turn right (east) onto Rue Berri. After 0.3 km, turn right (south) onto Rue de la Commune E. Continue for 1 km, taking a slight right onto Place d’Youville, and look for the museum on the left.

Plaque Location: The plaque is located inside the Pointe-à-Callière Museum.

Plaque location inside Pointe-à-Callière Museum. (Source: Pointe-à-Callière Museum).

Description: Montreal’s first stone masonry sewer was built between 1832 and 1838 to convey wastewater underground and to solve the major public health threat caused by the pollution of the Little Saint-Pierre River. The 500 m (1640 ft.) long collector consists of squared limestone blocks, with a clear cross section of 4.26 m (14 ft.) wide by 2.75 m (9 ft.) high. The floor is slightly curved to produce an inverted vault and so provide maximum resistance to the water pressure. The jointing must achieve perfect waterproofing because the water would reach the upper vault during the spring freshet.

Historic Significance: The stone masonry sewer, built on the birth place of Montreal, is the oldest remaining sewer of this type in Canada. The in-service life of 157 years is a testament to the masterful design and craftsmanship of the builders. Its designers, freshly arrived engineers and architects from England and Scotland, were likely inspired by aquaducts built under canals in Britain. The erection of the Sainte-Anne market was undertaken simultaneously with the construction of the collector, so that the western part of the collector was built into the center of the market’s cellars.

Plaque detail (Source: C. Katsanis).

Plaque wording: Site historique national de génie civil. SCGC. PREMIER ÉGOUT COLLECTEUR DE MONTRÉAL. Un hommage aux constructeurs du premier égout collecteur de Montréal, le plus ancien du genre au Canada. Cet ouvrage de maçonnerie a été construit entre 1832 et 1838 pour acheminer les eaux usées sous terre, afin de résoudre une importante menace pour la santé causée par la pollution de la petite rivière Saint-Pierre. Sa conception et sa construction ont été inspirées de techniques d’aqueduc éprouvées ailleurs dans le monde. La durée de service de 157 ans témoigne d’une conception magistrale et d’un grand savoir-faire des constructeurs. La société canadienne de génie civil. 2019.

CSCE. National Historic Civil Engineering Site. MONTREAL’S FIRST COLLECTOR SEWER. A tribute to the builders of Montreal’s first stone masonry sewer, the oldest of its kind in Canada. It was built between 1832 and 1838 to convey wastewater underground and to solve the major health threat caused by the pollution of the Little Saint-Pierre River. Its design and construction were adapted from aqueduct techniques proven elsewhere in the world. The in-service life of 157 years is a testament to the masterful design and craftsmanship of the builders. 2019. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering.

Plaque Unveiling Ceremony, June 13, 2019:

Collage of audience listening to Louise Pothier, Curator and Chief Archaeologist, Pointe-à-Callière Museum, describe the significance of the collector. (Source: C. Katsanis).

CSCE President Glenn Hewus (left), Mr. Hendrik Van Gijseghem, Project Manager, Pointe-à-Callière Museum, and Ms. Louise Pothier, unveil the plaque. (Source: C. Katsanis).

Link to Online Documentation:

Pointe-à-Callière Museum, “Memory Collector”
Pointe-à-Callière, «Collecteur de mémoires».