Anything is possible-ness.

McGill Explorations Round 6: the MacDonald Engineering Building

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 15:47 -- Alex

So a bunch of us who work-study-hang-out at McGill University have decided to snoop around some of the buildings as a means of learning more about this awesome and contentious and sprawling place.

After the holidays we had a hankering to go exploring. So one Friday, Vijay, Alissa and I decided to do some walking around. Vjay and I met at the Roddick Gates and we were supposed to meet Alissa at the Milton Gates and then head up the hill but when we all got there, we were tired and a bit grumpy and figured, well, there's plenty of fine buildings right here in lower campus so let's just explore one nearby and the closest one was probably... The MacDonald Engineering Building! So that's where we went.

The McGill website tells us that this iteration of the building was built after the gods of fire destroyed the first one back in 1907. And apparently, there's a phoenix carved into the south wall - to commemorate the rebirth-from-the-ashes nature of the new structure. Epic.

It was lightly snowing outside. I know it looks like we're in a storm, but we're not. Still, it's Montreal winter so you gotta bundle up. Also, I don't really know yet how to use my phone camera but man are the shots blurry this time around. Please bear with me.


So as soon as you get inside, you can either go up a flight of stairs or hang a left through a door. So that's what we did, because there's always time for stairs later on.


Pretty much right there, we saw a display board with advertisements of things to come and guess what? They had pinned flyers for the program I run. Except guess what? The flyers they had were from 2 years ago! I haven't used that slim flyer format in 2 years! Alissa wanted to take them down, but I opted to leave them up because who knows maybe at some point an engineering student will give us a call about a workshop we're no longer offering but they'll be so keen and will want to bring friends, so we'll put it back on the docket and it'll be ar resounding success!

Then we headed down another few steps and through a door that took us into a massive huge workshop area. It was brightly lit but no one was around to stop us from exploring. So that's what we did. We explored the machinery and we explored the nooks and crannies. They had these things that looked like giant metal presses. We were surely impressed (ha!) but didn't touch anything, of course.

Look at them pistons! They're not messing around them pistons.


I'm just seeing now this ladder that went up somewhere. I don't know how we missed that one. In hindsight, might have been fun to climb it. Maybe there was just too much in that garage and we got generally overwhelmed by all the bright colours and machines and stuff to see it.


And this little storage unit! How cute! And how can they remember what's in one little cubby than what's in the other little cubby?


Right there, where the door is, we saw a hatch in the floor which you can't see and it went down into the dark and we figured hells yeah, we've found some steam tunnel entrance! So I went down there using my phone flashlight thing but though it looked promising, it only led to a small chamber about the size of a kid's bedroom. My sense though is engineering students head down there once in awhile to party illicitly after having used the awesome tools, because there were beer cans all over the place. Engineering students!


Moar pistons and girders.


Alissa and Vijay next to barrels and scafolding. This is still in the large garage area. We hung out there for a good while and nobody around.


But eventually, we made our way back up, tracked back to the entrance and up the flight of stairs we'd initially disregarded. And because it's McGill, there's the obligatory painting of some dude. This is probs the original MacDonald. Not McDonald, MacDonald. Golden gilded frame and all.


In the Engineering building they have these awesome wooden old timey desks. I know they look uncomfortable as all hell but guess what, they date back to probs the 1920s or some such when they knew all about ergonomics so they are actually ok to sit on - if a bit hard.


Again, sorry for the blurry - but look at the ornate metalworking on those suckers.


All the desks had been ornately decorated by drawings and carvings of various scenes and inspiring words. Like a note about this guy who apparently "sucks".


Or that apparently "Jesus masturbated". Well played, DM... Well played indeed.


And this wonderful piece of a hamster in some sort of space suit.


At the door of the classroom there was this passive aggressive missive written in ALL CAPS!!


After checking out some more classrooms and thoroughly surveying the desk graffiti we headed up. Check out these wooden double doors. What is this, a magikal dungeon or the Engineering building?


After the dungeon stairs, we found ourselves in more hallways, some apparently by student clubs. We ended up in this neat little room. Look at the cool wall art of a city scape. And what's the deal with the sideways tiger banner above it? Is that a purple onion next to it? Are there flames coming out of its paws? Is that people on its back? Crazy!


And another one of those weird little cubby holders where engineers probably store things like: keys, markers, condoms and paper clips. That is also one cool crafty bridge above it.


In another room, we found a ping pong and a fooz ball table. So Vijay and I played a game of ping pong while Alissa looked on and kept score and encouraged us. I think I won!


What's the deal with this hallway? Not too sure why I took this photo. Was it the ornate arch work? The fleur-de-lys motifs? The red-and-green tile flooring? OR a combination of ALL OF THE ABOVE???


Up in the hallway they had 8 or 10 of these beautiful decorations - representing various engineering achievements. This one's too blury to make out but I think it was supposed to be a steam-powered contraption.


If I was an engineering student at McGill and I wanted to get a commemorative tattoo, I would get one of a winged-bell, spewing forth lightning with the word ELECTRICITY underneath it.


Who's this dude and why does he warrant a relief face plate in the hallway? I don't know. Maybe you do?




At one point we found the thing that we never ever usually find - an open door that leads to a service walk on the outside of the building. So out we went! It was cold and snowy but not that cold but well lit and fun to be out. Alissa stayed behind at first, then Vijay did to hold up the door that wouldn't have opened up if we'd closed it and then tried to go back in.


But lookit - this was our view of the nearby buildings. I so so wish that one day we find out how to get onto that roof through the ladder on the side. Then we can have a rooftop picnic. But alas, so far, most of those fun doors that lead outside have eluded us.


And checkout this view. When modern McGill builders find an old chimney, do they tear it down? No way man, they build around it and it looks great!


In we went and up more stairs to moar doars. This one was a metal bunker door.


After the bunker door, we ended up in stretches of empty office corridors. Like this one!


In the empty corridors, we came across photos of previous graduating classes and we marvelled at the so many many mustachio'd white males that have been McGill engineers. The cool thing is that some of the profs currently in Engineering have been around for decades and so you can see how they changed either go forward or backwards through time by looking at the changes in the photos. Like a time machine!


We kid you not. This was the sign on the women's washroom in the reminiscing photos corridor.

Share This

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
StumbleUpon icon
Del.icio.us icon
Digg icon
LinkedIn icon
MySpace icon
Newsvine icon
Pinterest icon
Reddit icon
Technorati icon
Yahoo! icon
e-mail icon