Original story by Jeff Lee and Olivier Pouliot.

You’ve noticed the Sun Life Building before, right on Dorchester Square in Montreal, majestuous and grand, standing there for more than a hundred years now, like an ode to civilization itself. Many Montrealers will tell you it is one among their favorite high-rises of the city, but very few have actually had the privilege to climb up inside. That’s why when correspondent Olivier Pouliot and I got a lead to explore the Montreal headquarters of global PR firm NATIONAL located on the 8th and 9th floors, we felt very lucky. But before we go up, a bit of history!

Olivier Pouliot, commercial real estate correspondent for TOWER TRIP.

The building was completed in 1931 after three stages of construction. It was built exclusively for the Sun Life Insurance Company. Although the then-new head office of the Royal Bank of Canada at 360 Saint Jacques Street in Montreal was taller by several floors, the Sun Life Building was at the time the largest building in square footage anywhere in the British Empire. The Sun Life Building went through three different stages of construction, the first one starting as early as 1913, but it was not until 1931 that its main 24-storey tower was erected, thus completing the project. 

“Can you imagine how much it would cost to build this today?” correspondent Olivier Pouliot asks me as we stroll inside the lobby.

NATIONAL took over the former offices of paper company Abitibi Consolidated during the fall of 2012 with a vision to adapt the space, but also to preserve key features, finishes and furniture. Our guide for this tour is Valérie Beauregard, Executive Vice-President for the firm. She explained:

“It is part of our firm’s vision to preserve and respect the heritage and the old while balancing it with forward-thinking innovation. This commercial building is LEED certified and we are proud to contribute to this mission”.

Valérie Beauregard, Executive Vice-President at NATIONAL.

That’s why throughout the office, woodworks have been restored, preserved or imitated by Atelier Menuiseries Mont-Royal

Andrea Danielle Wong, Consultant at NATIONAL.

The kitchen amenities and the open space are the work of VAD Designers d’espaces who specializes in commercial interior design and architecture. It is this mix of old and new, drenched in natural sunlight that makes this whole visit so interesting.

“This curious service elevator opens directly into some private offices and the legend says it was formerly used by Sun Life executives for express in-and-outs of the building” explained Mrs. Beauregard.

Committed to the local art scene, NATIONAL offices also boast temporary exhibits and art pieces here and there. The work from Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran’s young artists is proudly showcased.

The two floor office space connected by a slick staircase surrounding the atrium is the daytime home for some 80 staffers who work in synergy with other offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, Saint-John’s, Halifax, New York, Copenhagen, London and more!

“Some of the furniture you will see was recycled from our other offices. It was important for us to preserve and reuse them” explained Valérie.

But what makes this office space so unique is the exclusive access to the wrap around terrace of the 8th floor, presiding over gorgeous landmarks and offering unbeatable exteriors, priceless working and meeting areas during warmer days.

We’d like to thanks Valérie Beauregard for this detailed and rich tour of the headquarters. For more information about job opportunities at the firm, please visit the NATIONAL official website!


Jeff Lee
Editor-in-chief & Broker

Jeff loves to discover and explore the best real estate with those who dream big and make it happen. He hopes to bring his marketing and content production expertise to the real estate world. He is also a Real Estate Broker operating in Montréal.