984 - 1000 Notre-Dame, 333 Peel Street
The former brewery complex consists of many buildings. On Montfort we find the oldest building at the site; formerly a refrigerated warehouse, it is built in the vernacular style with 'porteur' walls in stone. The brewery's large warehouse and fermention buildings were constructed between 1924 and 1929 the length of Colborne Street (now Peel), between St. Joseph (now Notre-Dame) and William.
In 1929, a garage for the brewery's delivery vehicles, designed by architect Louis-Auguste Amos (1869-1948), was erected at the southeast corner of William and Peel. In 1930-1931 an administration building, designed by Harold Lea Fetherstonhaugh (1887-1971), was built at 984-990 Notre-Dame.
Constructed in the art deco style, this building, which served as head office for The National Breweries Limited consortium, boasts a rich interior decor of various marbles and precious woods, bronze and brass and an exterior ornamented with pilasters and bas reliefs showing elements and symbols of the brewing process and of the consortium members.
The first brewery at this location, owned by Thomas Dunn, moved to Montreal from La Prairie in 1808. In 1920 Dunn hired recent immigrant William Dow, son of a Scottish brewmaster, to assist with the brewing. By 1829, Dow was Dunn's partner and the brewery name was changed to Dunn & Dow.
Dow's younger brother Andrew eventually joined the company and, after Dunn's death, the name was changed to William Dow and Company and became Molson's main competitor. By the mid-1960s the Dow brand was outselling every other beer in the province and their slogans, such as: "Wouldn't a Dow go good now?", "Now for a Dow" or "Dis donc Dow" were ubiquitous.
Then, in 1966, as a result of poor public relations handling of the tainted beer scandal in which 16 deaths were attributed to the use of cobalt as a heading agent, Dow's popularity dropped overnight and the company suffered a decline in sales from which it never recovered. In 1968, the Dow name, by now representing a national consortium, was changed to La brasserie O’Keefe du Québec Ltée. O’Keefe closed the plant in 1991 and in 1996, École de technologie supérieure (ETS) recycled the O’Keefe building at the southwest corner of Peel and Notre-Dame into an engineering school and is currently at work repurposing portions of the buildings on the east side of Peel into a Centre of Innovation for the technology sector.
Sadly, while renovating to accomodate the new Centre of Innovation, ETS had the top portion of the brewery’s chimney removed: where it used to read “Dow Brewery”, it has now been reduced to “Brewery”. According to local property owner Harvey Lev, Normand Proulx at the borough’s permit department asserts it will be restored.
The garage at Peel and William was renovated in 2003 and currently houses the offices of the Board of Montréal Museum Directors as well as ETS’s AÉROÉTS and Centre de technologie thermique.
©2016 Linda Sullivan – Simpson
The Past Whispers
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