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The building on Marien Street

The building on Marien Street

The building on Marien Street

Three storeys of surprises

Montréal (Quebec), Canada

Everything except mattresses

When we went on Marien Street, we were expecting to find a mattress factory damaged by fire in December 2011 and left abandoned ever since. As evidenced by the huge sign «Matelas» and the name plate identifying the place as «Matelas Signature» near the front door, we knew we were in the right place. But once inside, we discovered many things... but no signs of any mattress!

A warehouse in the basement

We first accessed this three-storey building by the basement. We found a maze of small rooms, all filled to capacity with which seemed to be all the necessary furniture for a hotel. If parts were intact, well packed and stored, others were greatly damaged by the fire or melted. But everything was there: the warehouse was full of lamps, alarm clocks, dishes, television sets, bistro tables, stools, loveseats, sofa beds, wardrobes, side tables, headboards, chairs and mirrors.

Mattresses went up in smoke

When we accessed the first floor, we saw that indeed there was a place where could have been a mattress factory. As this is where the fire started, there is nothing left. Only charred walls and carbonized ceilings. All we know is that «Matelas Signature» had less than 5 employees, and that the cause of the fire remains undetermined and the owners have refused to comment.

An Islamic community center

Through a hole in a partition, we discovered that a part of the first floor and the entire second floor was occupied by another tenant: the Community Islamic Center Al-Bayane. Thanks to the reinforced concrete structure, the damages in that part of the building were limited and complete destruction of the premises of 6000 square meters was avoided. Al-Bayane Center was housed there only 18 months before the fire. It was primarily a place for the Maghrebian community and a hundred of people attended the Center weekly. It was obviously a place for prayers, but it was first and foremost a multi-activities community center and not a mosque. At the time, a relocation was not considered and officials were planning a quick reopening. To see the demolition in progress, it is clear that nothing will be left of it.

Ice skates

A final surprise awaited us. At the rearward of the prayer hall, crammed into a corner, a dozen of machines for the manufacture of ice skates! More specifically, for Gam figure skates. For the record, the famous skate manufacturer Daoust, number one manufacturer in North America at the time, decided to end production of figure skates to concentrate on hockey products in 1989. Former employees then decided to take over and create Gam Sports to fill the void left by Daoust. In 2008, Tournament Sports Marketing acquired Gam Sports and what started as a small company created to meet an urgent need is now world-wide distributed and continues to be the number one choice for skaters all over the world.

This leaves us with a question: why did we find those skates in the building on Marien Street? Nothing there to indicate that a workshop ever existed: no storage, no cutting table, no documentation... no physical organization to suggest that an ice skates factory was there and none of our research has given any results about the presence of such a company in the building ... however, the skates were there !

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