The Buildings of Shawbridge Boys Farm

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The Buildings of The Boys' Farm and Shawbridge

Boys' Farm and Training School on St-Jacquest west in Montreal.

The Original Boys' Farm and Training School

Before the move to Shawbridge, Quebec, The original Boys' Farm and Training School was located on St-Jacques Street West in Montreal.
Date: Circa 1910

The Kiwanis Hospital at Shawbridge.

The Kiwanis Hospital

The Kiwanis Hospital was built and equipped by the Montréal Kiwanis Club in 1921. Due to the increasing number of residents at the Boy’s Farm, and following the rampant Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 in Quebec, it was decided in 1920 that the campus needed its own hospital.

In 1948, the Kiwanis Club equipped the hospital with a dental clinic to accommodate the young residents. Every Wednesday, Dr. Hayden Bryant of Montréal, would provide dental care at the hospital assisted by a resident nurse. Since the early 1970s’ the building has been occupied by the Administration on the Prévost Campus.

The Molson Chapel

The Molson Chapel was built in 1922 in memory of Captain Percival Molson who was killed in service during the 1914-1918 war. The Molson Family financially contributed to the construction of this structure built with field stones from the cliff just north of the Campus. The Chapel’s bell which came from France was installed in 1923, all of the board of directors’ names of that time, are engraved on the bell.

The Molson Chapel in 1929.
The Molson Chapel in 1951.

In May of 1951, a fire destroyed part of the Chapel’s interior, due to a defective furnace. The Chapel was renovated and re-opened on May 23, 1953, during an official ceremony which had among the many guests: members of the Molson family. For many years the Molson Chapel was used as a place of worship and for graduating ceremonies. Some weddings were also celebrated there; the Chapel’s first wedding was Anne-Marie Dubois and Arthur Evan Cross Slater’s.

In 1976, the Chapel was transformed into a detention center.

Photo one shows the Chapel circa 1928. Photo two shows the Chapel’s interior before the 1951 fire.

Dawson Cottage at Shawbridge.

Dawson Cottage

The Dawson cottage was built around 1910. The plans were drawn by another famous Montréal architect, Hugh A. Peck. The main feature of this building is its reinforced concrete structure. P.M. Jordon of Shawbridge was the construction contractor. The upper level included a large room used as a dormitory by the thirty boys who lived there.

Dougall and Birks Cottage at Shawbridge.

Dougall/Birks Cottages

Two cottages were built in 1946 to replace the Dougall and Birks’ double cottage destroyed by flames on December 21, 1945. Canadian Pacific architectural services drew up the plans and in 1946 the cottage reopened.

The Lewis Cottage at Shawbridge.

The Lewis Memorial Cottage

This cottage was built in 1918 by the Rotary Club in honor of Major John Lewis who died during WWI and who was dedicated to helping kids with difficulties. It was used as a hospital, in 1918, during Quebec’s Spanish flu epidemic. For the following twenty years the Montréal Rotary Club paid all the maintenance costs. Until the 1960s’ the cottage was home to thirty boys but was demolished when it became unoccupied for a few years.

The Lindsay Cottage at Shawbridge.

Lindsay Cottage

This cottage was built in 1934 thanks to the generosity of Montréal donors such as Charles Lindsay, a well known business man at that time. In June of 1933, while attending the ending school year ceremonies and after a detailed tour of the Campus with Owen Dawson, Charles Lindsay decided to donate 5,000$ to the construction of a new cottage. The plans were designed by Canadian Pacific architects and the work was done by M.D. Readon of that department. At its opening in 1934, the cottage was named Lindsay in honor of the generous benefactor.

The Beatty Gymnasium.

The Beatty Gymnasium

Thanks to the generosity of Montréal benefactors such as J.M. Connell and Edward Beatty, the construction of the gymnasium began in 1926. The architectural plans were drawn by Frank Peden of Montréal and the construction was done by Harold Johnston. Like the Molson Chapel, the outside structure was built out of field stones, from the cliff just north of the Campus. At the time of the construction, the building included a gym on the main floor, a bowling alley, a recreation room with a pool table and a small pool in the basement. An enormous fireplace adorned the recreation room, a historical plaque was placed on the fireplace’s façade in the memory of Harry Barry, a resident of the Boy’s Farm who died during the 1914 - 1918 war and who financially contributed to the Boy’s Farm. The gym’s official opening was on June 26, 1927, during the end of the school year ceremonies where many of Montréal’s dignitaries were present for the occasion.

On October 19, 1948, a terrible fire ignited in the recreation room following an explosion. Because the weather was bad, a Canadian Army detachment, who practiced in nearby fields, had settled in the recreation room to prepare their lunch. They were using the hearth and since the wood was damp they used gas to light the fire. Unfortunately, flames reached the two gas cans that were left close by. No one was hurt but the flames destroyed the entire interior of the gymnasium.

In the spring of 1949, less than a year later, the gym’s reconstruction began within the original structure left standing. Architect Leslie Perry of Montréal ensured the walls structural soundness. The construction work was done by Gordon Tarlton. On November 4, 1949, the new gymnasium was inaugurated during a visit from Canada’s Governor-General, Viscount Alexander, and a tree was planted near the main entrance for the occasion. The new gym included an entrance hall, a stage and a room reserved for the staff in the back of the building. The basement included a bowling alley and a recreation room but the pool was not rebuilt.

Today, the Beatty Gymnasium is still used for athletic and recreational activities. The bowling alley is still there but it was modernized in 2006, a workout room was also added at the time for the Campus’ residents and staff.

Administration, Staff House and Vocational School

The Boy’s Farm main building, built in 1908, was destroyed by fire on January 29, 1939. The building housed the Administration offices and part of the staff resided there, also it included a small carpentry workshop located in the annex.

Thanks to the generosity of Canadian Pacific architects, three months later plans were drawn to rebuild the destroyed building. It was decided to build two separate buildings. Construction began in the spring of 1939 and concluded in December of that year.

The main building, was once again occupied by the Administration offices and its staff. The second building became a Vocational School for multiple trades such as carpentry and a machining workshop. At its opening, in September of that year, the building was named the Julian C. Smith Workshops in the memory of this eminent engineer and philanthropist.

The Administration building became a detention center in the early 1970s’. The Vocational School is now the Campus Maintenance Department. The drawing of the building was done in 1939.

Administration, Staff House and Vocational School
The Julian Smith Memorial Workshop

The Swimming Pool

The Campus’ outdoor pool was built in 1954 for 21,000$ thanks to the donations of the Montréal Kiwanis Club. It included an ultra-modern filtration heating system. Before its construction, a basin north of the railway was used.

The Shawbridge Outdoor Swimming Pool 1
The Shawbridge Outdoor Swimming Pool 2

Zeller Outdoor Hockey Rink

The roof covering the rink was donated to the Boy’s Farm in 1958, by the Zellers Family Foundation in Warren Zeller’s memory, the founder’s second son, who died on September 8, 1944 during military air strikes over Holland. The first photo was taken during the roof construction in 1958. The second photo was taken in 2010.

The Zeller Outdoor Hockey Rink 1
The Zeller Outdoor Hockey Rink 2