Once one of the tallest buildings in Toronto, the most marked characteristic of the Canada Life building today is the weather beacon with its cryptic code of flashing lights and colours. We were surprised to find, however, that the beacon feature located 100 metres from the ground was only added in 1951, and it had been originally built as a mooring point for airships—once viewed as the future of luxurious air travel until the rise of the passenger airplane and a series of airship accidents, including the infamous Hindenburg disaster in 1937.
Though the use of airships was waning by the time the Canada Life building was completed in 1931, they were still used for publicity flights, novelty exhibitions (pictured) and war purposes. Another photo of an airship hovering over the building’s contruction promised a bright future for Toronto as a global industrial leader, with more grandiose architecture planned for University Avenue. Sadly, most of these projects became casualties of the Great Depression, when the Canadian economy fell further than any other nation besides the United States.
UPDATE: We’ve let the cat out of the bag on this photo.