Silo No. 5 creates a monumental alignment stretching nearly 400 m along the Pointe-du-Moulin in Montreal's Old Port. It consists of three distinct parts linked together by aerial galleries. With its floating elevators which allowed the offloading of grain from the holds of lakers and the simultaneous loading of transatlantic vessels without ever coming into contact with the quays, the silo demonstrates the technological prowess of a bygone era. In operation from 1903 to 1994, was designed for grain sorting and storage and is located on the pier at Pointe-du-Moulin in the west end of the Old Port of Montreal. This jetty, 75,000 square meters, is made up for its eastern part of embankments, resulting largely from the construction of the Lachine Canal in the nineteenth century. The three buildings and related equipment that constitute the silo occupy more than half of the Pointe-du-Moulin and rest on the artificial part of the pier.
The oldest building, completed in 1906 and called Elevator B, is built on a first brick level from which high walls of riveted steel plates rise. The upper part is covered with corrugated metal plates and galvanized steel panels, easily discernible since they form the only external metal part of the building that is not rusted. The 73.5 meters long and 26 meters wide, the B elevator is entirely made of non-combustible materials to avoid any risk related to the explosive hazards of grain dust. The openings are concentrated on the ground floor (large windows with lowered arches) and in the upper parts (rectangular industrial windows), where the grains were handled, to guarantee light and ventilation.
Annex to Elevator B
West of Elevator B is an annex, built in 1913 and 1914, and enlarged in 1923 and 1924. This building is made up of 60 circular, reinforced concrete silos whose shape is clearly visible on the facade. It is crowned with a small corrugated metal structure that has rectangular openings while the concrete facades are all blind outside the entrance doors and vents.
Finally the third building, erected between 1957 and 1959 is the one most visible from the rue de la Commune. Called B-1 elevator, it is built in the extension of the existing silo, stretching it eastward on a narrow strip. Also in reinforced concrete, its facade presents smaller and tighter undulations than the annex from 1914 to 1924. This difference is explained by the integration of quarter rolls between the cylinders themselves, increasing the storage capacity of the building. The latter addition to the entire grain silo No. 5 is the largest with 185.6 meters long and 14 meters wide. Its flat roof is crowned with a few extra floors in what looks like a rectangular tower at its western end, causing the building to reach 66.4 meters in height. Only this tower and the two floors that cover the entire surface of the building are generously fenestrated, the high concrete facades that contain the silos themselves are blind.
The entire grain silo No. 5 is monumental and the massive appearance is reinforced by the imposing blind walls. A complete set of equipment complements the whole, including the impressive network of aerial conveyors and galleries as well as the two mobile marine towers mounted on rails, making the complex a real machine. The railroad tracks (one of which goes directly into Elevator B) testify to the rail transport that was linked to the silo, while the direct presence of the river and the marine towers demonstrates the link with the river transport.
Although it has not been in operation since 1994, the silo is still very much anchored in the industrial life of the port because of its location and the passage of Canadian Pacific trains on its site. In 1995, the boundaries of the Old Montreal Historic District were extended to the west to include the No. 5 Grain Silo Complex.