Written by Ania Szneps on 24.08.17

In a city that’s constantly changing (here’s looking at you detour signs and Molson brewery relocation!), it’s important to cherish those significant landmarks that are charged with the province’s own tumultuous history. One of Montreal’s most iconic and beloved emblems has got to be the Farine Five Roses sign, a massive neon that greets you when you drive towards the island with all its iconic simplicity. In the spirit of looking back and appreciating some of the city’s most historical monuments, we at Montreall.com are giving you a list of 10 fun facts that you didn’t know about the Farine Five Roses sign – a symbol we hope will continue to represent the city for many more years to come.

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1. This mill was Canadian from the start; The Lake of the Woods Milling Company Limited (which had offices in Montreal and Keewatin, Ontario) is the mill’s first owner;

2. This thing is crazy old; the flour mill was opened in 1946 and the famous sign went up in 1948;

3. It originally said Farine Ogilvie Flour, after the Ogilvie Flour Mills Co. Ltd., that would later become the mill’s owners;

4. In 1954, the sign read Farine Five Roses Flour when Ogilvie bought Lake of the Wood Milling and acquired the Five Roses brand;

5. To be in compliance with Quebec’s French legislation Bill 101, the company was forced to remove the word “Flour” from the sign in 1977;

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6. Horror struck Montrealers in mid-July 2006 when sign was turned off – seemingly permanently;

7. That same year, Ogilvie was purchased by Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), who eventually sold the Farine Five Roses brand to Smuckers. Later that summer, the sign was turned off, causing public outcry over their plan to dismantle it. Advocacy groups such as Heritage Montreal and the Farine Five Roses Project came together to save what they considered a historical Montreal landmark, even though the city refused to legally “acknowledge the sign’s heritage value” at the time. The sign was promptly turned back on, but its fate remained unclear;

8. The sign was left in a state of disrepair for decades and was even deemed a public safety issue due to neglect;

9. In December 2013, the city was able to breathe a sigh of relief as it was announced that ADM and Smuckers would be preserving the sign after all when Le Devoir reported that nearly one million dollars is to be spent on its renovation;

10. The company has been publishing a cookbook called The Five Roses Cook Book for decades that you can still find today!

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And now you can impress your friends from out of town or when you’re at Trivia Night with all the information you have on such an iconic landmark. You’re welcome.

If you like reading similar posts or about events in and around Montreal (like Habitat 67), check out our Live – Attractions page!

SourcesHeritage MontrealFarine Five RosesMaisonneuve Magazine, and Le Devoir.

Featured image by @birdofpassage_america.

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