Heritage Masonry Restoration Experts
When it comes to heritage buildings in this country, there is none with more significance, architecturally or symbolically, than the parliament buildings on Parliament Hill.
One of the most recognizable buildings in Canada (if you aren’t sure which it is, check your $10, $20 or $50 bill), the Centre Block on Parliament hill was originally built in the 1860s and reconstructed after a fire in 1916. Over 24 types of stone were used in its construction, not to mention limestone, copper, wood and glass.
Let that sink in: 24 types of stone, and from different quarries, many of which are long gone. So when the Canadian government undertook the project of restoring Canada’s heritage building, it became the Public Works and Government Services Canada’s (PWGSW) “largest and most complex heritage rehabilitation project ever”, one requiring the most highly skilled, experienced heritage restoration masons in the country, befitting of a project of this scale. The project went to Atwill-Morin.
Atwill-Monin is a third-generation masonry restoration and heritage preservation specialty company based in Quebec. “We work to preserve masonry for the beautification of the building and public safety as well,” says Atwill-Morin Group President, Matthew Morin. “Most of the projects we work on really need highly specialized labour—people that take it to heart that the building we are working on are part of Canadian heritage and Canadian culture. Everything that is done needs to be done with the highest level of awareness to not further damage the elements but bring them back to their original glory.”
Atwill-Morin was also selected to do masonry work for Quebec City’s National Assembly and the National War Memorial in Ottawa, as well as six decade’s worth of important masonry work in Canada, concentrated in Eastern Canada. Originally started by Morin’s father, the company has grown under the leadership of Morin and his brothers to a $35 million entity with 250 employees—including approximately 200 skilled tradesmen—with the capability of working on upwards of 45 jobs simultaneously. Atwill-Morin’s entire group also includes the concrete restauration, scaffolding and water treatment, bringing the employee count to 400 people with a revenue of $70 million. Atwill-Morin has been recognized as one of Canada’s 2017 Best Managed Companies because of this.
The team’s acknowledged management success is due in part to a investment in its people and investing in growth and training for its workforce. “Leading with a courageous mindset is imperative to being a Best Managed company,” said Peter E. Brown, National Co-Leader of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program and Partner at Deloitte. ”
While many companies look only to revenue growth as a key marker of success, Best Managed companies take strategic risks to grow in a number of different ways,” said Lorrie King, National Co-Leader of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program and Partner at Deloitte. “It’s this adaptability and approach to business that sets them apart from the status quo.”
Atwill-Morin’s highly specialized team works diligently to not only execute masonry work, but find the best materials for the job—something that is more challenging than one may imagine. “With respect to materials required on these types of projects, so many of the original quarries that were used when these buildings were originally constructed have been since shut down, so its always very challenging,” says Morin. “We rely on our extensive network of contracts to go locate and source the material, be it stone, brick, or actual mortars, that will be as similar to the material or the exact same as what was originally used.”
“What I mean by that is obviously hundreds of years ago the same quarry that were used to quarry the stone aren’t always open, many of them have disappeared or filled in,” continues Morin. “For many of them, we need to find equivalents and we do that by getting our very wide range of facilitators that have great knowledge in the material business, to look far and wide throughout North America and even Europe to find appropriate materials that would be as close as possible if not exactly the same as hundred years ago.”
For example, a restoration project for a University in Montreal took the team all the way to Manchester, England to verify the production of a very unique terra cotta moldings. It’s challenges like these that Atwill-Morin thrives on. “Difficult is what drives us and what makes us so passionate about what we do,” says Morin. “That so little people can actually get done what we do everyday is exciting.” Atwill-Morin works closely with its network of suppliers, subtrades, architects, and engineers to achieve project success. “A lot of our network is home-grown inside the company, so throughout the years we had this huge data base of what was used and what works.”