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Eternal Flame of Hope Not So Eternal

Photo by J. Smee/Torontoist.

As a plaque in front of it explains, “The Eternal Flame of Hope” at Metro Hall is “Symbolic of the hopes, aspirations and triumphal achievements burning within the human spirit. May courage never be extinguished, or light diminished nor spirits bound in pursuit of personal excellence.” Ignited fourteen years ago on May 27, 1996, at the launch of the country-spanning WhyNot Marathon for people with physical disabilities, it burns all day and night; it is, after all, an Eternal Flame. Or rather, it was an Eternal Flame. Torontoist’s J. Smee, passing by the flame yesterday afternoon, discovered that for the G20, the cauldron has been covered completely with plywood, and the flame apparently extinguished underneath it—which surely must be symbolic of something, too.
We’re waiting for comment from city officials and will update when we get it. [UPDATE, 2:01 p.m.: It's confirmed—Linda Robinson, a Senior Communication Advisor with the City, told us that "The flame was extinguished due to the G20 and was covered with plywood to protect it."]


  • Adam M.

    That plywood pyramid is beautiful. I’m all for it.

  • http://undefined rek

    Now where are peaceful activists going to light their Molotovs?

  • Kevin Bracken

    the symbolism is so thick you could cut it with a knife

  • http://undefined james a

    Am I remembering wrong or was that thing not extinguished for a fair chunk of last year as well? I’ve definitely seen it out on a good few random occasions walking few over the years.. I don’t think “eternal flame” means quite the same thing here as it does in Ottawa. :)

  • David Newland

    The mind reels at the sickening symbolism. If they feared the flame of hope… couldn’t they just have stationed a cop there to protect it? How much brighter a signal that would have sent.
    Sadly, nothing about the way this summit is proceeding appears to respect the spirit of this great city. What a shame to invite the world to a truly multicultural, vibrant, artistic, neighbourly town, and to vigourously ensure no one gets to appreciate any of it.
    Visitors and locals both lose.

  • http://undefined agw

    There you go: hope and the human spirit are no match for Stephen Harper and Bill Blair.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    and the plywood is so thick you can’t cut it…with anything short of a chainsaw.

  • accozzaglia

    Ahhh, I remember life in Toronto that day. Has eternity ended up being all of just fourteen years?

  • http://undefined elliot

    i wonder how they put out the flame… probably tried to smother it with the flag.

  • http://undefined SpupEh

    close your eyes
    give me your hand
    can you feel my heart beating?

    Not any more, I can’t.

  • http://undefined rek

    I heard Stephen Harper smothered it personally, but there are conflicting reports as to whether he used a kitten or a baby.

  • accozzaglia

    It was a kitten. He eats the babies.

  • http://undefined HC

    Seriously – better to cover it for a few days than have it destroyed forever!

  • accozzaglia

    No, seriously, that is absurdity coming from your keyboard, HC.
    First of all, none of the G20 activity is happening on Metro Hall grounds.
    Second of all, it’s a City of Toronto monument for the struggle and triumph over physical disabilities. What is isn’t is a monument to economics, globalization policy, dogma, eating meat, or any of the other listed reasons — valid or unfounded — why there is an opposition mounted against the G20.
    Third of all, we are a little bit behind in learning this, but as the Americans learnt the hard way during the last decade: when unrelated things are mired and implicated in the rein of fear by being cut off from the public or access seriously curtailed (the Statue of Liberty comes to mind in NYC), then the irrational, poorly thought out perception of fear has won.
    Fourth of all, what kind of protestor-anarchist-rabblerouser-douchebag is going to think to themselves: “Oh. My. That flame of triumph over disability is oppressing us. Let’s go smash it”? Honestly, had no attention been brought to it, then no one would have paid any mind to it even if they never liked the thing.
    And fifth? The City of Toronto government really hasn’t had much of any say in having the G20 hosted here. That was a federal move. The controversial law in effect this weekend? That is a provincial move. What’s the city’s move? Being mostly stuck and told to shut up by Harper and Co.
    So. What exactly do you mean, anyway?

  • http://undefined rek

    As horrifying as it is, that plywood pyramid is kind of interesting. It looks like marble in the photo.
    Perhaps now is the time to resume discussion about the Province of Toronto.

  • accozzaglia

    Discussion can (and probably should) resume, but don’t expect a Province of Toronto to ever happen without Québec, Alberta, and outer Ontario (thus, Queen’s Park opposition) all throwing major hissy fits first. And let’s not forget that seven of the provinces have to be on board and a majority of the national popular vote as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if PEI raised some stink about it, even though they are constitutionally assured four seats in Parliament. And since there are plenty of Canadians who have such a hate-on for Toronto that they will oppose whatever Toronto wants, I am not so sanguine about a majority vote.
    Don’t get me wrong. I actually favour Toronto the Province. But with a Québec third referendum nipping at our heels this year, I don’t think we’ll be seeing City Hall become Provincial Hall anytime soon, much as that sounds great. And honestly, a Province of Toronto would be strongest with the surrounding regions included — a sort of Province of Greater Golden Horseshoe, if you will.
    That said, this topic isn’t going to die until a capital-Q question is brought to the forefront — the Toronto Question.

  • http://undefined SpupEh

    Hey Linda Robinson! How much better optics would it have been to symbolically transfer the flame to a lantern or something, like they do with the Olympic torch? That would have lent more credibility to your explanation of “protecting” the eternal flame than admitting you killed it in order to save it.
    (Heh. Or even if you just TOLD us that you did this, the lie might have made us feel better about it. JS.)