HISTORY OF VANIER COLLEGE
Vanier's Hidden Secrets

We invite you to view some unknown and intriguing areas within Vanier's campus.
As well, you'll learn some facts about our history that may surprise you.

CLICK BELOW FOR AN AREA OF PARTICULAR INTEREST OR JUST SCROLL DOWN TO READ IT ALL

ARCHITECTURAL AND ARTISTIC FEATURES               AREAS ABOVE THE F BUILDING LIBRARY

THE E BUILDING ROOF
               OTHER HIDDEN SPOTS IN THE E BUILDING

ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY               OTHER HIDDEN SPOTS IN THE COLLEGE               

THE TUNNELS               OTHER UNKNOWN AREAS OF THE A TO D BUILDINGS


ARCHITECTURAL AND ARTISTIC FEATURES

The buildings of Vanier College boast a remarkable variety of architectural
details that go unnoticed in our daily lives. Here are a few of our favourites.

The two photos below show some lovely details from the A Building.
Note that CBM stands for Collège Basile-Moreau.

College Basile Moreau's CBM logo is seen below in the floor tiles of the Music Department, A-200


The beautiful balcony seen below from the C Building (built in 1897) is partly obscured by the new entranceway built in front of it. The photo just below it shows the C Building's 1904 construction date.


The four photos below show some details from the E Building.

Below is the cornerstone to Vanier's completely reconstructed F Building, completed in 1956.

Below are two details from the H Building. The second photo shows the unique cupola on the roof.

Below are two ceiling details discovered in C Building during renovations (photographs by Chris Hall)

Ceiling detail discovered in C Building during renovations

Below are two ceiling details discovered in C Building during renovations


ABOVE THE LIBRARY IN THE F BUILDING


This enormous 750-watt bulb used to light up the old chapel which is now the Vanier library.

Above the library's ceiling is a passage way, or passerelle, which was used to access the bell as well as the chapel's lighting system. Several of these holes in the passage way's floor were used to project light from the ceiling and into the chapel.


This is what the library stacks look like from one of these holes.

Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
And here is how those same holes appear looking up from the library's 5th floor.

Click on the image for a high-resolution version.

Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
This is a view from up high on the library's 5th floor, looking down on the A Building parking lot.
Click on the image for a high-resolution version.

Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
Accessing the bell tower is done via these metal stairs that lead to a small platform.

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Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
Here's the view from that platform just before the access door to the bell tower.
Click on the image for a high-resolution version.


Jean-Marc Hémond climbs the stairs above the library going up to the old bell tower.


And, yes, as Léo Lefebvre shows us, the bell is still in place! (Though we don't ring it.)


This is the timer, in use until 1969, that would ring the bell at specific intervals.


NOTE: You can now read the full story on this bell, named Marie Anne Adolphe Justine,
as well as find out specifics about the F Building spire where it resides. Click for more.



The spire that contains the bell is visible in the photo of F Building above.


THE E BUILDING ROOF


Hidden away on the top floor of the E Building are these stairs to the roof.


At the top of the stairs, an old door leads to the roof itself.


On the roof, you'll find original architectural features such as these.


Here's the view from the roof, looking down rue de l'Eglise.


OTHER HIDDEN SPOTS IN THE E-BUILDING


This electronic control board dates back to 1924 and actually still runs the E Building elevators.


Old technology meets new: the 1924 board sits next to a generator of much more recent vintage.


In the E Building basement, there are areas that seem untouched since the 1920's.


The ceiling of the E Building basement.


Another view of the E Building basement. The stone blocks date to the late 1800's or early 1900's.


OTHER HIDDEN SPOTS THROUGHOUT THE COLLEGE


This area in the C Building leads to an old boiler room.


Inside the old boiler room behind the C Building is this main water heater for the College.


Also in the old boiler room, we see the inner workings as heat is generated from natural gas.


This wall in the C Building shows the thickness of the original walls dating back over 100 years.


Here's a plumbers office in the C Building that's virtually unchanged for the past 50 years.


The plumber's office was the domain of Léo Lefebvre, who lead us to many of these sites.


A little corner in the old boiler room where, in the 1960's, Jean-Marc Hémond and Léo Lefebvre
would get together to hide from the Sisters and listen to the World Series. (Léo is seen at right)


Jean-Marc Hémond and Léo Lefebvre reminisce in the old kitchen;
which is today's wood-shop, located behind the C Building.



The exterior of the wood-shop, which was the nuns' principal kitchen.


The ceiling in the former old kitchen.


This is how the kitchen appeared when it was run by the sisters. The photo dates from the 1940s.

This is the exterior of the Steam Plant, located behind the N Building (just visible on the left) and adjacent to the Vanier football field. This facility was built in the 1960s to provide heat to both the Vanier main campus as well as to the large Pavillon Saint-Joseph complex (run by the Sisters of Sainte-Croix) located between the N Building and Côte-Vertu boulevard (barely visible on the far right of the above photo). Previously, the Steam Plant even provided heat for buildings in the campus of Cégep Saint-Laurent.


Behind the Steam Plant is the Vanier football field. It's a little-known fact that this was the site of a 200-feet deep quarry used by the nuns to extract stone for building construction, notably for the A Building expansion. Léo Lefebvre, who worked as a plumber for over 35 years at Vanier; including many years as an employee of the nuns, has told us that a huge construction truck once fell into the quarry and that it was unfeasible to get it out, which means that it is still buried there!


The interior of the Steam Plant.


We discovered this pile of discarded lead glass windows inside the Steam Plant.


One of the huge heaters inside the Steam Plant.

The next six photos given to us by Serge Ostiguy show the internal workings of the Steam Plant as it originally appeared when it was built in the 1960s to provide heat to the nuns in both the Pavillon Saint-Joseph and older buildings as well as to certain buildings in the campus of Cégep Saint-Laurent.


THE TUNNELS

This is the entrance to the tunnels from the boiler room in the C Building. These interconnecting tunnels were built in the 1960s and stretch from the C Building to the Steam Plant behind the N Building. From there, another tunnel goes to the Sisters of Sante-Croix's large complex, Pavillon Saint-Joseph and there's even a branch that goes from the Steam Plant all the way south to the campus of Cégep Saint-Laurent!
Inside the Steam Plant, Serge Ostiguy takes us back down into the tunnels. From here, one tunnel goes to the C Building, another branch leads to the Pavillon Saint-Joseph and a third branch goes under the cemetery of Église Saint Laurent (just south of Vanier) all the way to Cégep Saint-Laurent. However, as Vanier no longer sells steam to Cégep Saint-Laurent, this section of the tunnel is now off limits.


At the bottom of the stairs leading from the Steam Plant.


Serge Ostiguy's flashlight points the way into the long dark tunnel going to Cégep Saint-Laurent.

Further along are these large pipes that were constructed to allow on old stream called Ruisseau Raimbault to pursue its natural course. Back in the days when Saint-Laurent was largely undeveloped, this stream started at around the corner of Sainte-Croix and the Metropolitan highway, and reached out to O'Brien and du Ruisseau (Creek or Stream) street, north of rue Poirier in Saint-Laurent and beyond.

To find out more about waterways that used to run through Vanier's campus, click here.


Inside the tunnels are these old carts that were used by the nuns for laundry.


Here we see a spot where the floors were damp. Surprisingly, the tunnel is mostly dry.


Inside the tunnel leading from the C Building to the Steam Plant.

NEW! You can walk through these hidden tunnels yourself. On the VanierWalk website, which permits you to follow Google Map street-view styled images of Vanier rooms, buildings and pathways in between, you just need to know the secret to access these tunnels. Here's how: Go to the VanierWalk home page. In the top right-hand corner, click on N to go directly to the N Building first-floor lobby. Once there, click on the door to the outside labeled "Side entrance of N". Then just to the right of the bike rack, click on "D-K Walkway 4". Next, click on the links labeled "Side of N" and then "Rear of N". (You're almost there!) Finally, click on the link marked "Side of L" and you will find yourself next to the Steam Plant, the L Building. Click on the red VanierWalk symbol on the door to the Steam Plant labeled "X tunnel 1 challenge" and you can start exploring!


OTHER UNKNOWN AREAS OF THE A TO D BUILDINGS


An elevator motor in the D Building.

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Here we see the machinery and cables that operate the D Building elevator.
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Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
This appears to show contractor calculations written right on boards no one would see. (But us!)
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Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
On the roof of the D Building looking towards F Building.
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Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
This view from the D Building roof looks east towards the A Building Observatory.
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This photo was taken inside the attic in the D Building.


Another view from inside the D Building attic.

MORE VIEWS OF THE D BUILDING ATTIC:
You can click on any of the following six images for a high-res version.

Click on this image for a high-resolution version.

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Click on this image for a high-resolution version.

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In this, the last high-res image from the D Building attic, we see a bottle of some unknown liquid.



Here we see modern ducting systems juxtaposed with some very old looking walls.


This area of the D Building attic used to be used as a laundry corner.


This side of the D Building attic looks out onto the cemetery behind Eglise Saint-Laurent.


From the other side of the D Building attic, we look out on the parking lot facing the back of
the A Building. The Astronomical Observatory is just visible on the top of the A Building.


A close view of the Astronomical Observatory which was constructed in 1973.
With a retractable roof, it contains a Celestron 8-inch reflecting telescope.
The N Building is clearly visible on the right.

Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
Here is what the Observatory looks like on the inside.
Click on the image for a high-resolution version.

Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
Accessing the Observatory from the 5th floor of A Building involves climbing these stairs.
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Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
At the top of the stairs is the main entrance, room A-621-P.
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Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
Once through the door, you see the telescope facing the mechanical port that accesses the sky.
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Click on the image for a high-resolution version.
When you turn around to leave, watch out for the small ladder on the inside of the main door.
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Also on the roof of the A Building, we found these old heating devices.


A look inside an attic on top of the C Building.


A different perspective from inside the C Building attic.


Heating devices inside the C Building attic.


On the B Building 5th floor (used by Chemistry for storage); originally storage and rooms for nuns.


The same area on the B Building, 5th floor.


Again, the same area on the B Building, 5th floor.


Inside a ceiling space in the 5th floor of the B Building.


Inside the same ceiling space. Discarded construction materials are piled up at right.


Down in the A Building basement, we were surprised to see an earthen floor.

In the garage of the A Building is this pile of old stained glass windows, originally from the nun's quarters inside what is now the A Building. These precious artifacts have unfortunately been left in a dismal state of decay. Louis Phillip Belle-Isle's restoration of one of these works of art became the subject of an article in the Saint Laurent News. Click to read the article.


The motor for the elevator in the A Building.

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Here's another view of the machinery that operates the A Building elevator.
Click on the image for a high-resolution version.



We wish to express again out thanks to Jean-Marc Hémond (left) and Léo Lefebvre (right) for
their invaluable help in leading us to many of the areas featured in this "Hidden Secrets" page.


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