Physical Plant


The Department of Physical Plant is responsible for maintaining the University's buildings, power plants, grounds and various campus services such as parking and security. The department also carries out new construction and alterations of University Buildings. The Department of Physical Plant was established in 1961, with Philip Gross as Director to coordinate the large amount of construction planned by the University. Physical Plant subsumed the older Department of Buildings and Grounds. The latter remained a unit of Physical Plant until the retirement of its Superintendant, P.A. Cunningham in 1975. At that time the functions of Superintendent were allocated to other positions within the Physical Plant department.

Physical Plant records fall into two main categories: administrative files and architectural drawings. There are also various photographs showing work in progress. Administrative files on University buildings and properties, ca 1960-1970, are also found in the papers of the Assistant to the Principal (G.A. Grimson): R.G. 2 (c.407, c.416-c.417, c.420, c.427-c.432, c.438, c.445-c.448). Information about older academic buildings and former houses now owned by McGill may be found in Répertoire d'architecture traditionnelle: l'ensemble de l'Université McGill issued in multilith copy by the Service de Planification de la Communauté Urbaine de Montréal in 1978.


1919-1928 W.D. Lawrence, Superintending Engineer

1929-1948 P.W. MacFarlane, Superintendent of Buildings

1951-1959 R.G. Defries, Superintendent, Buildings and Grounds

1959-1975 P.A. Cunningham, Superintendent, Buildings and Grounds

1962-1966 P. Gross, Director, Physical Plant

1966- A.D. Elliott, Director, Physical Plant


Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, 1918-1971, 12 m (c.2-c.41)

These records were created by the Superintendent and his predecessors who bore the main responsibility for the maintenance and alterations of buildings before the establishment of the Department of Physical Plant in 1961. They also include the records until 1971 of the last Superintendant, P.A. Cunningham. They consist of several series of operational files, which include reports, files on staff, budget records, contracts, insurance policies, inspection reports, applications for employment and subject files such as "Trees", "Boilers" and "Congress". Many of the files contain memoranda on the maintenance and alterations of individual buildings. These series break down into the following overlapping chronological periods:

1907-1909 (c.33), 1918-1947 (c.22, c.24-c.25), 1930-1960 (c.26-c.33), 1933-1971 (c.34-c.41), 1941-1961 (c.2-c.21, c.23).

Within these main divisions, the records are usually arranged alphabetically within shorter chronological blocks. Listed.

Cost Distribution Sheets, 1952-1957, 36 vols, 4 m (c.43-c.78)

The cost distribution sheets give date, account and department charged, description of job and amount charged. Arranged chronologically.

Contracts and Specifications, 1909-1970, 2 m (c.1, c.42, c.81-c.84)

Contracts and specifications concerning architectural projects.

Plans of University buildings, ca 1900 to date, ca 10 m (See Plans Inventory) RESTRICTED

There are architectural plans for most buildings owned or constructed by the University. Included are plans of elevation, floor, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and heating. There are few original plans of buildings constructed before 1900 although subsequent alterations are documented.