Home  Albert  News  Purchase  Gallery  Contact  Writings  Links

2011 06 07

Chateau Montebello
Now a Fairmont Hotel (right), the largest log structure in the world was built in four months by 3 500 workers in 1930

From Building the Chateau Montebello by Allan and Doris Muir

. . . Then, and Now . . .
 

             In February of 1930 began the clearing of a huge construction site in relatively untouched wilderness near the tiny village of Montebello, Quebec. July 1 of the same year (less than five months later!) saw the grand opening of a millionaire's dream log structure complex as a private club(!!). By 1931 it had not only the great six-winged lodge, huge staff quarters and a 200-car garage, but an 18-hole golf course, indoor swimming pool, its own railroad station, a fish hatchery, mile-long bobsled run, and the world's highest ski-jump(!!!).
             Immediately a rail spurline was built in order to haul in the vast amounts of building materials required, and basements and foundations were constructed in March. By April 3, the first loads of over over ten-thousand 60some-feet-long western red cedars were delivered, and the log work was begun on April 15 by skilled European workers experienced in the trade and under the supervision of a Finnish master log-builder. The construction method used was new to Canada at the time though proved sound by centuries of use in Scandinavia and Russia.
April 15 - left
May 1 - below

             The work was done in a mad dash (often before architectural plans arrived on site), and the scale of the entire project was enormous. The photo below, of the main building's central core from which the six wings extend (and centered by a foundation for a massive six-sided fireplace), provides a good indication of its size.

             A fact that should be foremost in mind is that all the work was done by hand. In the main building (the Chateau) alone were used half-a-million hand-split cedar roofing shingles, 1 400 doors, 535 windows, 2 100 special handcrafted fixtures, forty miles of conduit and writing, 7 600 sprinkler heads, 53 miles of plumbing. . . .
             Let the pictures of the time tell their thousand words each.