Exploring Montreal's Sewer

The eerie photo above was taken by Neatorama reader controleman on an urban exploration trip to the William Collector, the first covered drain (c. 1830) but now unused portion of the sewer system in Montreal, Canada.

Before it was converted into a drain, the Saint-Pierre river was once there - and before it was bricked up, people used it as a communal garbage heap! Today, the drain is largely unused except for a small section by the Pointe-à-Callière museum. Indeed, the museum is planning to open the entire collector sewer to the public, which would make it the longest underground exhibit in the world (1 km or 0.6 mi. long):

The Museum is now entering the second phase in its development, as it moves toward putting these large-scale expansion plans into effect. The goal is to expose the entire William sewer and the archaeological remains of St. Anne’s Market, home to the Parliament of the United Province of Canada between 1844 and 1849. Visitors will be led to a new exhibition hall, with its entrance on McGill Street, devoted to future international exhibitions on ancient civilizations and their cultures. This ambitious expansion will allow Pointe-à-Callière to give the district an exhibition centre of national and international scope.

So if it was all bricked up, how did our intrepid urban explorers gained access? Controleman wrote:

In the early 2000, the city had to repair the drain under McGill street and at the same time, archaeologists came back to make a hole in the structure to create an access point from the street. Crazy as we four were, we got dressed like real workers and headed down while a few people were watching us.

Because of some structure's protection (concrete blocks and sand) we could go more than 100m away from the access point. At the highest point, the stagnant water reached our hips.

Link - Thanks controleman!


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Very cool. I have been in this hobby for a few years and only now have gotten around to the bigger pipes. (I moved to the city for college)

I'm very curious though - what are the contents of your exploration kit? Also, I'm interested in your photography methods. How do you light the whole drain?
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