No project is too difficult or too complex
By Cheryl Long
Atwill-Morin Group is in the business of preserving history by their contributions in restoring Canadian architecture. Whether it is a centuries-old church or a condominium built in the 1990s, Atwill-Morin Group is able to breathe new life into the buildings using a combination of time honored technics and modern day technology.
Formed in 2007 by the Atwill-Morin brothers, the third generation masonry entrepreneurs were following in the footsteps of their father and grand-father when they launched their own business. They have to date built an organization with offices in Montréal, Québec and Ottawa, Ontario.
“We are a specialised company that works on some of the most difficult and complex projects in eastern Canada and there is no project too difficult or too complex for us. We thrive on the challenge”, said Matthew, President of the company.
Atwill-Morin Group performs restoration of heritage buildings, ranging from commercial to industrial to residential and institutional structures. They are able to restore and repair everything from a stone stairway to entire facades, using technics and materials that maintain the building’s original character. “The older buildings we restore are the ones that give us the most pride. We give these building a second life and we renew them to be as per their original specifications”, commented Matthew.
Under the supervision of Matthew-President, Mark-Director of operations/general superintendent and Jonathan-Senior Project Manager, Atwill-Morin Group has grown substantially since its conception and today has approximately 35 different sites throughout the provinces of Québec and Ontario.
Atwill-Morin has worked on several notable structures over the years; buildings that now stand the test of time thanks to the exceptionally skilled work that goes into a restoration project. Among our numerous projects, the masonry stabilization of McGill University’s MacDonald Stewart Library in Montreal was one of our more complicated and complex tasks. It involved erecting scaffolding on the roof at different angles in order to dismantle parts of the walls, repairing and resetting the old stones and reconstructing the walls. Another memorable project was Linton Apartments on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal, an historic building dating back to 1905. The 13 stories high building constructed with terra cotta was a multi-million dollar project. The magnificent classic façade was restored by 30 skilled masons. “It turned out to be a project that we are very proud of” Matthew said.
“One of our largest projects involved an old Montreal girls’ school which is being converted into prestigious condominium units. M sur la Montagne was a unique and complex site with very specific requirements such as three-storey windows”, Matthew explained. “We had to engineer new structures to compensate for the masonry that was being removed and pierce through 30 inches of stone in a straight line from top to bottom while keeping the structural integrity of the building during the restoration. It was extremely challenging, we had to invent a type of shoring for the structural work that we had to do; nothing off the shelf. It had to be drawn up by one of our engineers”, Matthew stated.
One of the interesting aspects of restoration work is the adherence to regulations. Unless specified in the project’s specs, the building only has to be brought back to the original construction code but that does not stop Atwill-Morin from giving an old building a better than new facelift. They apply modern technics to classic architectural styling.
We have over 20 people in management and approximately 150 certified masons and apprentices. Atwill-Morin Group believes in investing in the education of their employees. Their office personnel are offered to better their abilities by attending seminars to update their knowledge in their domain, as well as safety courses etc. Their apprentice masons have the opportunity of advancing in their field by acquiring new technics in the courses provided by the company. Every winter, an experienced mason instructs 15 to 20 aspiring apprentices. The four month course teaches them their trade and gives them the proper knowledge to work on an Atwill-Morin jobsite. The course is offered in partnership with the Commission de la Construction du Québec (CCQ) and the hours can be applied towards a journeyman or Red Seal certificate. Matthew added “We are proud of what we do!”
The investment in manpower is extremely valuable in a field where skilled labour is on the decline. Though it is still possible to hire experienced masons in Québec, finding someone who knows complex restoration is difficult. Therefore it makes sense for our company to invest time and money in our employees’ ongoing education. The company’s reputation in the masonry field for the wellbeing of their employees as well as the set up and safety requirements on sites often attracts hopeful applicants to walk-into the offices and request an application for employment.
Part of their success and competitive edge stems from a substantial investment in equipment; purchasing the latest in scaffolding, lifts, drills and chippers, among other tools gives them the advantage in quoting. One of their more innovative acquisitions was a machine that can make anchors in house.
“It will bend, it will punch and it will shear stainless steel in order to make the anchors that we require to hold the stone for the structure. Many companies will sub out this work and it can take three, to four weeks until they receive their order. By that time, we have completed the work” commented Matthew.
The company’s work based on ISO 9001 standards and reputation has also earned industry recognition. They were featured in the construction magazine, Champions de la construction in Québec, as the masonry company with the highest number of declared hours with the CCQ. We have been on top for two years running declared Matthew.
Continued growth and success in eastern Canada means that the company is starting to look towards the Maritimes for possible new projects, the brothers have also launched a new scaffolding business in this past year, Impact Scaffolding. This enterprise provides all of the scaffolding for Atwill-Morin Group and also supplies the services of rental, erection and dismantlement to outside companies ranging from construction sites to movie shoot locations to Special events such as the Grand Prix.
For more information and a look at the some of the company’s past projects, visit: