Montreal: Canada's Tank Capital during the Second World War

During the early stages of industrial preparation for war, Allied powers faced the challenge of creating a tank that could be mass produced, and be comparable to those being manufactured in Germany. 

In Montreal, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was entrusted with the manufacturing process of Valentine tanks, such as the one in the photograph, in its Angus Shops on rue William-Tremblay. Starting in 1941, Valentine tanks rolled out from Montreal factories to be shipped to Britain and Russia. Although the Valentine was a British-designed armoured vehicle, it was assembled in Canada, often using American parts. The need for faster, more reliable tanks resulted in the development of different models, like the Ram, which was also manufactured in Montreal at the Montreal Locomotive Works shops.

But why were tanks built in Montreal? Prior to the Second World War, the city was already a major centre for railway car construction. The infrastructure used to build railways cars and other related goods was easily adapted to manufacture tanks instead. 

photograph, 23cm x 17.7cm
Ley and Lois Smith War, Memory, and Popular Culture Research Collection - The University of Western Ontario - London, Ontario
Second World War