Canada Life building

An Unfettered View From Atop the Canada Life Building

Ever since I was a small child, when a trip to downtown Toronto seemed such a glorious affair, I have been drawn to the Canada Life building at Queen and University. Built in 1931, with its beckoning weather beacon installed in the early 50s, it serves as headquarters to Canada's oldest insurance company. Since its creation, a hideous modernist complex was erected to house the expanding organization just West, creating a very interesting contrast with the beautiful old building.

Compared to what has arisen in the city since, the 320-foot tall structure may not seem such a giant, yet it still offers a very impressive and unique view of the area just north of the business district.

South and West of the building is a rapidly changing area of the city - whether it be residential, business, or entertainment...

Canada Life

University Avenue

Canada Life

itself seems so peaceful from this height, the extra wide median in the middle creating a very interesting green area amidst the constant traffic...

Canada Life

Looking East, city hall both old and new are in plain sight, their stark contrast somewhat less apparent from this vantage point...

Canada Life

Taking a look directly South, the older buildings seem to seamlessly give way to more modern glass facades...

Canada Life

I'm always one to complain about the improper, or at the very least minimal use of roof-space in Toronto, yet more and more, it seems that developers are seeing the recreational potential for these spaces...

Canada Life

Many folks (Torontonians especially) are very critical of new city hall's architecture, claiming it incongruous with the rest of the city plan. Upon closer examination, however, it does seem to fit some sort of pattern - even if not the most aesthetically inspiring one...

Canada Life

Even the design of the OCAD

Canada Life

'table-top' seems to make more sense from this view, appearing to be rising out of a great forest...

Far from being one of my more challenging elevations, the view from atop the old Canada Life building was still an eye-opener for me. It served to show that even though dwarfed by its neighbours to the south, the old dog still has some neat tricks.

From an architectural point of view, I doubt it likely that the young condos and office towers will take any advice from granddad, but in the same manner that the Royal York stands firmly in front of them, the beauty of old Canada Life shines with an unmistakable glow.

From my vantage point, then, it was as if I were looking out onto an unfolding history of buildings - one that is necessarily ongoing. Viewing this slow yet steady growth of the urban entity, I must say, was only aided by standing on the shoulders of a giant.

(To see the rest of the snaps, as well as high res. versions of those above, you can check out my flickr slide-show below.)


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