Project 365 – Day 108: Rutherford Park and the McTavish Reservoir

April 17 2012

Near McGill downtown University campus on avenue Docteur Penfield is Rutherford Park. Named after the 1908 Nobel Prize winner for chemistry Ernest Rutherford who held the position of the Macdonald Chair of Physics at McGill University (1898-1907).

At first sight, the park is nothing more than a large grassy field. However, on closer inspection you will find manhole covers and vent pipes protruding above the flat ground – the only evidence (other than the chateau style pump house) that you are actually standing on top of a 40 million gallon reservoir.

Old pipe fitting

Old pipe fitting

Side view of old pipe fitting

Side view of old pipe fitting

McTavish Reservoir Chateau style pump house

McTavish Reservoir Chateau style pump house

The reservoir was built between 1853 and 1856, using the sites natural rock to hold the water. Originally it was 24 feet deep and held 13.5 million gallons of water but has been enlarged twice since then – In 1862, it was enlarged to hold 16 million gallons, and then enlarged again in 1877 to hold 37 million gallons. The reservoir is supplied by water pumped from the Montreal aqueduct which runs adjacent to the Lachine Canal 4km to the south.

The Chateau style pumphouse was completed in 1932, and in 1957 the reservoir was covered and has pretty much remained the same since that time.

Manhole lifting cable with pumping house in background

Manhole lifting cable with pumping house in background

Vent pipe with pumping station in background

Vent pipe with pumping station in background

View toward downtown Montreal

View toward downtown Montreal

View toward McGill University

View toward McGill University

McTavish Reservoir Chateau style pumping house

McTavish Reservoir Chateau style pumping house

McTavish Reservoir pump house on Dr Penfield avenue

McTavish Reservoir pump house on Dr Penfield avenue

Following the 9/11 attacks the City upgraded security of the site, concerned of a terrorist attack on the city’s water supply. It was suggested that Rutherford Park be closed to the public, but as you can see, it still remains accessible at this time.

To view images in gallery format, simply click on one of the images below.

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Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

- Martin

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  1. [...] I’ve been wanting to go and shoot the McTavish Reservoir pump house at night following shooting it during the day back on April 17. [...]

  2. [...] been following for a while, you may recall the name McTavish from previous posts – The nearby reservoir below Rutherford Park was named after him and the Allan Memorial Institute was built on where the [...]