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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. As mentioned before, the Farine Five Roses sign once had the word ‘Flour’ beneath the wording Five Roses.

    As I recall, the sign flashed at night, with the words lighting in sequence, then all the words lit at once. Then out, and starting again.

    This sign, along with the truly massive illuminated ‘Northern Electric’ sign atop the Northern Electric building on Shearer were icons of the era, and could be plainly seen from passenger trains leaving and arriving at CPR Windsor station.

    Northern Electric Shearer St. and sign.

    There was once also a large round BA Gasoline sign around 7th ave in Lachine on then 2-17 which flashed BA, 88 and 98 on a red/green monad, to greet incoming commuters from the lakeshore.

    Other departed Gasoline brands in Montreal area included,

    White Rose.


    and Supertest.

    Before the Decarie Expressway was gouged, there was a ‘Supertest’ on Decarie at Dalou??

  2. I love this sign because it is part of this city that is older than I am, so it has that legendary tinge to it. But it always makes me wonder whether it would be permitted to erect such a massive corporate sign in the present day. I’m sure there would be a huge outcry. Just as there is an outcry whenever it is suggested that this sign be removed, as evidenced by the “save our sign” link Tristou posted above. When it comes down to it, we are such conservatives…

  3. Every era creates it’s own classics and kitsch with equal enthusiasm. Time and “uniqueness” seems to be what makes these things eventually so appealing, some survive, most don’t. But it is somehow disgusting to think one day the city folks may be fighting to save a Wal Mart sign or some golden arches. On the other hand, if you think of those places being almost totally gone from society, it becomes pretty easy to imagine the nostalgie setting in…..

    There used to be a Shell sign like that on the roof of a downtown building. Too lazy to search tonight….

  4. I have huge sentimental affection for this sign … I live in California now, but in 1991 I had just moved to Montreal for a job assignment and was loving all that your city had to offer. I spoke no French and was taking every opportunity to understand the French world around me. One day I was riding my bike down the Lachine bike path and saw this sign. “Farine” … OK, that means flour. “Roses” … OK, that’s either going to be a flower, or a color. But what is this word “Feev” … “Feeeev????” What could “feev” mean??? Suddenly I realized … And had a big laugh to myself as I pedalled down the path.

  5. Alanah, the same save our sign phenomenon happened in Boston with its Citgo sign:

    I lived in Boston and Cambridge for a while; I certainly was used to it and would’ve missed it had it been torn down. Odd what becomes thought of as essential to a city’s identity. In modern cities it seems that everything distinctive about a skyline is corporate in origin. Certainly wasn’t always the case.

  6. Kai, I lived in Boston before Montreal … in the 1970s there was a glorious Coca-Cola sign that shimmered at Cambridge across the Charles River, atop a warehouse on Soldier’s Field Road. At some point it was taken down and put into storage by a developer, to be replaced atop a new hotel. Lo and behold – when the hotel was finished, the sign somehow had been “lost.” It was a great loss to future generations of Harvard students who might have admired it from their dorm rooms and dining halls!

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