Laurin and Leitch

will leitch laying pipes

Laurin and Leitch Engineers and Contractors was a partnership between James Laurin and William Christopher Leitch (my great-grandfather). It was founded in 1903, and their offices were at 2075 Union and then 5 Beaver Hall Square. They were in business until William’s death in 1924.

I have tried over the years to ascertain the type of work, the scope, and success of the business by researching the archives at Hydro Quebec and the city of Montreal, as well as other sources as the have been handy.

Work

There were certainly involved in building sewers on the Island of Montreal, Laval and the south shore. Apart from a great photograph of “Will Leitch laying pipe” from a cousin (undated) and another image of men on machinery, I have found several mentions of the company in the city archives and in the records of the construction of the power plant at the Rivières des Prairies.

  • In 1914 the company bid for the contract to build a filtration plant in Toronto, which they did not win.
  • According to a biography of William Leitch in the book “Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board,” the company had built
    • 25 miles of pipe for Montreal Water and Power
    • 50 million gallon reservoir for Montreal Water and Power and the 100 miles of pipe attached to it
    • Walter filtration plant Montreal Water and Power
    • Sewerage and waterworks for the town of St Louis
    • Paving in Montreal (which I also saw at the City of Montreal Archives)
    • Traffic bridge over the Richelieu between St John’s and Iberville
    • Ottawa overland pipeline
    • Montreal Tramways work
    • Water filtration plant for St John’s QC
    • Stone crushing plant – the largest in Canada
  • A bid in 1922 for a provincial bridge at Beauce – did not win the contract

Quarries

According to the website for the Centre de Nature de Laval, the site had been a quarry owned by Laurin and Leitch in 1915. They sold it to the Montreal Crushed Stone Company in 1916.

I have also found a map, dated 1968, which places a quarry “Laurin and Leitch” in St Vincent de Paul (Laval). The name clearly lived on after the company.

Misc. Tidbits

  • They owned a ship called “Laurin and Leitch no 6” in 1918. I am not quite sure what it was used for, nor what kind of boat it was, but its presence on a database is interesting.
  • St Denis Sub-Station for the Montreal Tramways Company had Laurin and Leitch as their general contractors – this was in an ad for a roofing product.
  • The company purchased a locomotive built at Lima Locomotive Works, which they got after 1910, and then sold in 1919 to Schroeder Mills and Timber in Pakesley, ON.
  • I was contacted in 2006/7 about the company by a researcher for the Canadian Dictionary of Biography , who planned to write an entry for James Laurin, and wanted more information about the company… still not published

From this evidence it is clear that the company was fairly successful and did a diverse business from sewers to plants, bridges to building.

And then there were the tokens….

Last week I got an email from Martin Légaré, who is a metal detectorist. He frequents Pointe Calumet, QC, a lovely leisure area near Montreal. He had found some tokens with the name “Laurin and Leitch” on it. He had googled it and found my blog. (I love my blog!) It appears that the company might have had some kind of event for employees there, and had tokens made for prizes, or food, or something. He sent me two tokens.

laurin and leitch tokens

Did I mention that I love my blog!

Sources

Archives de Montreal, 2236 2ieme Serie – Lettre 26 July 1912, Laurin & Leitch to Controllers City of Montreal

Debats de l’Assemblee Legislative 15e Legislature, 1iere Session, 25 January 1922

Toronto Daily Star, 16 April 1914, “Steel Filters Correct thing, Says Mr Harris,” pg 1

Montreal Gazette, 4 May 1924, “WC Leitch Dead” pg 20

Official History of the Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board by HM Stiles, 1919

Ville de Laval – Centre de la Nature de Ville de Laval- website

Carte toponymique de la region metropolitaine de Montreal, Ministere des Terres et Forets du Quebec, 1968.

Shipindex.com

Biographical dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950 – Vanier, Joseph Emile

Construction, Vol XI no 1, Jan 1918, pg 239 “Barrett Specification Roofs”

Gazette Officielle de Quebec, 24 March 1923, Vol 55, no 12, pg 852

www.shaylocomotives.com (2006)