toronto monolith

Mysterious monoliths keep popping up in Toronto and then disappearing

Attention ancient aliens, ambitious art students, Arthur C. Clarke fans, viral marketers or whoever the heck has been erecting shiny monoliths along Toronto's waterfront in recent days: Don't.

If the events of the past week have taught us anything, your steely statement will either be vandalized, draw unsafe crowds, or get removed by the City of Toronto.

Perhaps all three, as in the case of our first "mysterious monolith" in Humber Bay Shores.

The Humber Bay monolith, first spotted on Dec. 31, was removed by city staff on Saturday morning after drawing swarths of looky-loos and selfie-seekers to the waterfront's west end.

City spokesperson Brad Ross told The Star that Toronto's OG monolith — the origin of which has yet to be revealed — was taken down because it was erected without a permit, and because it had been defaced with graffiti containing hate speech less than 24 hours after surfacing.

Fortunately for monolith-crazed tourists (read: people with little else to do amid the provincewide shutdown,) another monolith had appeared out of nowhere sometime on Jan. 1.

Much harder to access, the second structure was discovered on a breakwall in Lake Ontario across from Sir Casimir Gzowski Park, just west of Sunnyside Beach.

It was also said to be less sturdy than the Humber Bay Shores piece, wrapped in shiny plastic film as opposed to made of metal.

Whatever the case — knock-off or not — Monolith II had also disappeared by Sunday morning.

City officials had said previously that they were working with Toronto's port authority and marine police to remove the second monolith, and with good reason: People were actually wading frigid waters to access the column up close and get photos.

One misplaced foot or a burst of strong wind could have proven fatal for some residents of the city who went out to gawk.

It's important to note that these monoliths are far from the first to make headlines lately — and that most of the structures have been attributed to artists or pranksters (as opposed to aliens.)

The fact that these Toronto monoliths are part of a global trend have only made them more appealing to locals, as is often the case when Canada gets something that's already been deemed cool elsewhere.

You can find a full list of monolith-like installations from late 2020 here, featuring at least nine in Canada beginning with the monolith discovered in Manitoba on Dec. 7.

Unlike many of the rogue installations, the Manitoba monolith was said to have resembled a now-famous Utah monolith that was discovered on Nov. 18.

The Utah pillar was found to have been in place for about four years, but sparked a frenzy of copy-cat projects across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. 

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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