Jacques-Cartier Bridge | Discovery of a 19th-Century Pipe Kiln

21 November 2019

Photo credits: Simon Filiatrault, Eng. M.B.A., EXP



Discovery of a 19th-century pipe kiln


As part of its work under the Jacques Cartier Bridge, The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI) conducted an archaeological dig near some bridge piers located south of De Lorimier Avenue. The goal of the dig was to find the location of a kiln used in the 19th century to fire pipes. Today, we are pleased to announce that the researchers located a massive pipe kiln from the Henderson factory.



Photo credits: Carl Ritondo, Atwill-Morin and Dan Simirea, CIMA+ Hatch 


As the Henderson pipe factory was founded in 1847 by William Henderson, Sr., and taken over by the founder’s grandsons, the Dixon brothers, in 1876, this kiln may have been built sometime between 1847 and 1892. It is possible that the kiln was rebuilt along the way, as this type of equipment required regular maintenance and repairs.

Old maps of the area confirm that the land lot was occupied by the Hendersons and Dixons starting in 1847. One of the maps illustrates the kiln’s location in the factory’s back yard, and “Henderson / Montreal” is even stamped on most of the pipes found around the kiln and on the land lot discovered directly to the west (near Sainte-Catherine Street) in 2005.


Photo credits:  Mr. Christian Roy, archaeologist


Faubourg Sainte-Marie, as it was called at the time, was a working-class neighbourhood with many industries concentrated in the food, textile, leather and tobacco sectors. In the last quarter of the 19th century, glass and metalwork plants were added to the neighbourhood. Faubourg Sainte-Marie, and specifically the quadrangle formed by Sainte-Catherine, De Lorimier, Viger and Dorion, was also known as Montreal’s pipemaker’s district.

According to the manufacturer’s census records, the Henderson factory employed about fifty workers in both 1861 and 1871. From 225 tonnes to 300 tonnes of pipe clay were processed annually and, in 1871, nearly 7 million pipes were produced per year, which equals 22,000 boxes or 50,000 gross (1 gross = 12 dozen). The Hendersons were of Scottish descent and native to Glasgow, and most of their employees were Scottish and Irish immigrants.

JCCBI has completed the archaeological dig in this area where most of the remains have been found.