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Memories of the dike: three hundred years of history

Today, many people use the mills’ dike to get to La Visitation Island. Most do not realize that they are visiting a site whose craftwork and industrial traditions date back almost three centuries. Historian and cultural animator Stéphane Tessier recaps the site’s first constructions and their respective uses.

Stéphane Tessier invites passersby to take a closer look at the Mills site
Video with transcript (EN). Subtitles available in English and French.

Let’s listen to Mr. Marcel Henley from Sault-au-Récollet as he tells us about his job at the Back River Power Company when he was a young man in the mid 1900s.

Marcel Henley speaks with Gabrielle Desgagné about his job at the Back River Power Company as a young man
Video with transcript (EN). Subtitles available in English and French.

There are records of the Second World War in the form of a collection of photographs illustrating the Back River Power Company’s contribution to the war effort. The company made packaging for ammunition intended for the allied forces, as well as components that would go into the construction of artillery shells.

These photographs testify to the importance of the role women played in the war effort. Before then, women would work only as secretaries and receptionists. Many of them continued working at the company after the war ended. Their number increased with Milmont Fibreboard Limited, which made actual objects rather than mere cardboard sheet products.

Interior view of the Back River Power Company factory floor in 1942. Women seated at large tables preparing cylindrical cardboard packaging for ammunition that will be shipped to the European front. Standing on the left, a man overseeing their work. On the right, boxes full of cylinders.

On the second floor of the factory, women preparing ammunition packaging, 1942.

A group of twenty-five female workers split into three rows on De l’Île-de-la-Visitation Street in 1941. They are all wearing different dresses. Behind them, trees and houses on the island.

Group of working women on De l’Île-de-la-Visitation Street in 1941.

In the centre, a machine is mixing the paper pulp in a circular vat. To the right, big drive belts transfer the torque needed to run large steel-wheeled machines.

Paper pulp mixer, 1942.