Canada Life Building

Coordinates: 43°39′06″N 79°23′15″W / 43.651704°N 79.387497°W / 43.651704; -79.387497
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Canada Life Building
Canada Life Building
General information
TypeOffice building
Location330 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates43°39′06″N 79°23′15″W / 43.651704°N 79.387497°W / 43.651704; -79.387497
Construction started1929
Antenna spire321 feet (97.8 m)
Roof285 feet (87 m)
Technical details
Floor count17
Design and construction
Architect(s)Sprott & Rolph; Kuwabara Payne McKenna
TypeDesignated heritage property (Part IV)

The Canada Life Building is a historic office building in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The fifteen-floor Beaux Arts building was built by Sproatt & Rolph and stands at 285 feet (87 m), 321 feet (97.8 m) including its weather beacon.

It is located at University and Queen Street in the city's downtown core. Work on the new headquarters of the Canada Life Assurance Company began in 1929 and it opened in 1931. It was the fourth building to serve as the headquarters of Canada Life, Canada's oldest, and at the time largest insurance company. Previously it had been housed in offices at Bay and King Street.

The Beaux Arts structure was the first of a series of planned structures along University Avenue, but the Great Depression halted these plans. When it was completed it was one of the tallest buildings in Toronto. It remains one of the largest office buildings in Toronto with windows that can be opened by its occupants.

The Canada Life Campus has been expanded several times over the last few decades and now consists of five structures: 330 University Avenue, 190 Simcoe Street, 180 Simcoe Street, 180 Queen Street West and a 5-storey parking garage at 206 Simcoe Street. In addition, the Campbell House Museum was moved to the South-East corner of the Campus in 1972.

Weather beacon[edit]

Model of the weather beacon in the lobby of the building

The building is perhaps best known for its weather beacon, whose colour codes provide summarized weather forecasts at a glance. The information is updated four times every day by Environment Canada's Weather Centre at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The forecast is for the next 4 hours. The top light shows:[2]

  • Steady green = clear
  • Steady orange = cloudy
  • Flashing orange = rain
  • Flashing white = snow

The white lights along the support tower show:[2]

  • Lights running up = warmer
  • Lights running down = cooler
  • Steady = steady temperature / No change

Forecast Period:[3]

  • 7am beacon signals the conditions for the morning.
  • 11am beacon signals the conditions for the afternoon.
  • 3pm beacon signals the conditions for the evening.
  • 7pm night beacon signals the conditions for the following day.

The beacon was the first of its kind to appear in Canada and was built at a cost of $25,000 (equivalent to $249,296 in 2021). The top of the beacon tower stands 321 feet (97.8 m) above University Avenue and, when completed on August 9, 1951, made the structure the third-highest in Toronto, after the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building and the Royal York Hotel.

"Raising the last stone": The Canada Life building under construction in 1930

190 Simcoe Street[edit]

190 Simcoe Street is a 9-floor addition to the Campus, built directly West of the original. It connects to the original building through two enclosed, elevated walkways It was completed in 1970.

180 Simcoe Street[edit]

180 Simcoe Street is a 12-floor addition to the Campus, built directly South of 190 Simcoe Street. It connects to 190 Simcoe Street through a short walkway. It was completed in 1994.

Canada Life Tower - 180 Queen Street West[edit]

Canada Life Tower is a 16-floor addition to the campus, built South-West of the original. It connects to the rest of the Campus through an underground loading dock area. It totals 16 floors and was designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna. It was completed in 2005.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "330 UNIVERSITY AVE". City of Toronto's Heritage Property Search. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Toronto History FAQs". City of Toronto website. 24 August 2017.
  3. ^ "The Original Weather App from 1951, We Got to See It up Close".

External links[edit]