Canada Life Building

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Canada Life Building
1Canada Life Building.jpg
The historic Canada Life Building, with a prominent weather beacon at its pinnacle, and the considerably taller CN Tower in the background to its left
General information
Type Office building
Location 330 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario  Canada
Coordinates 43°39′06″N 79°23′15″W / 43.651704°N 79.387497°W / 43.651704; -79.387497Coordinates: 43°39′06″N 79°23′15″W / 43.651704°N 79.387497°W / 43.651704; -79.387497
Construction started 1929
Completed 1931
Antenna spire 321 feet (97.8 m)
Roof 285 feet (87 m)
Technical details
Floor count 15
Design and construction

Sprott & Rolph; Kuwabara Payne McKenna

Type Designated heritage property (Part IV)
Designated 1997-02-20[1]

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. 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.

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 top light shows:[2]

  • Steady green = clear
  • Steady red = cloudy
  • Flashing red = 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:

  • Day signals for balance of day.
  • Night signals 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. 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

Canada Life Tower[edit]

Canada Life Tower is an addition to the building, built directly west of the original. It connects to the original building through an enclosed, elevated walkway; 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. 

External links[edit]