Mur-Écran, The Windscreen

View of Fermont from Mont Daviault. Photograph by Simon Nakonechny.

View of Fermont from Mont Daviault. Photograph by Simon Nakonechny.


Fermont, Quebec, was designed as the mining community of the future. Its 1.3 kilometre-long windscreen complex was built to shield residents from the bitter sub-arctic climate. Forty years later, contributor Simon Nakonechny heads north to find out what has become of this visionary town.

In the early 1970s, Fermont, Quebec was created to mine some of the richest iron deposits in the world. It was a new kind of  town, one that would directly confront the twin dangers of cold and isolation. The mining company built the Mur-écran to shield Fermont from the fierce sub-arctic winds. It also brought all the town's services under one roof, with the hope of creating a close-knit community in the process.

Forty years later, what's become of Fermont and of the Windscreen?  How does living in a planned town shape the community? And can nature really be brought to heel, or will we always be swept away by the vast wilderness?

Mur-Écran Image Gallery (photographs by Simon Nakonechny)

Participants in the program:

Adrian Sheppard, project architect for Fermont, Emertus Professor at McGill University.

Maurice Desnoyers, founder of the Montreal-based architectural firm, Desnoyers, Mercure and Associates. Along with Norbert Schoenhauer, Desnoyers was lead architect and urban planner for the town of Fermont.

François Trahan, former resident of Fermont. Photographer. See his Fermont photostream on Flickr

Residents of Fermont:
Lynne Savoie
Cathy Larivière
Marc Poulin
Serge Côte. His B & B is Gîte chez Alexis 
Carol and Michel Lecuyer

Fly-in fly-out worker Pierre-Marie Durand.

Réjeanne LeBloch, spokesperson for ArcelorMittal Mines Canada.

Lise Pelletier, Mayor of Fermont.

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