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People & Culture

10 surprising facts about Canadian structures

  • Dec 01, 2014
  • 686 words
  • 3 minutes
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Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing a selection of my favourite stats and feats from my new book Canadian Geographic Biggest and Best of Canada: 1000 Facts & Figures (in stores now!). If you enjoy trivia, particularly Canadian trivia, or have a particular fascination with Canadian facts and accomplishments, you’ll surely enjoy my book. In the hopes of further capturing your interest, I’ve been sharing a top-10 selection of items from each category that particularly stood out for me. This week: structures.

1. At 72 storeys and 298 meters high, Toronto’s First Canada Place is the country’s tallest building (not tower, please note). The 2.6 million square meter skyscraper was considered ahead of its time when it opened in 1975, and extensive interior and exterior rejuvenation was completed in October 2012. With the highest rooftop in Canada, it also serves as a prime communications site, second only to the nearby CN Tower.

2. It’s since been eclipsed, but for 34 years (1976—2010) Toronto’s CN Tower put the country on the world map as home to the globe’s tallest tower, building and freestanding structure. Though it now ranks third tallest, at a mere 553.33 m, it’s still no less impressive. Approximately 1.5 million people visit the tower each year, for attractions that include a lookout, a glass floor, a revolving restaurant and the EdgeWalk (the world’s highest, hands-free walk on a 1.5 m ledge encircling the building, 365 m up).

3. The largest hockey arena in Canada? Montreal’s Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens, which has a capacity of 21,273 seats. The arena, known as the Molson Centre when it opened in 1996, is considered one of the most technologically advanced and versatile entertainment facilities in the world. More than one million hockey fans visit the building annually and 650,000 more people attend the arena for other events.

4. Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal is Canada’s largest church. The Roman Catholic minor basilica on Westmount Summit in Montreal opened in 1967 and can seat 10,000. More than two million visitors and pilgrims visit the church each year. The building’s granite exterior was constructed with blocks cut from Lac Mégantic quarries.

5. Baitunnur Mosque in Calgary is the largest Muslim mosque complex in the country at 4,460 square m.

6. Ottawa’s Elgin Street Theatre was the first in the world to have two screens, allowing customers to choose between watching one of two movies in one venue. The second screen was added in 1957 by owner Nathan Taylor, who would go on to create the Cineplex Odeon chain.

7. Toronto’s Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is the last operating double-decker theatre (two separate and distinctive theatres on top of one another) on the planet. It is also considered one of the most beautiful theatre complexes in the world. The complex was built in 1913 as the flagship of Marcus Loew’s theatre chain.

8. The first known library in the Americas was at Port Royal, Acadia (present day Nova Scotia), and was established by Marc Lescarbot in 1606. Lescarbot, a lawyer and writer from France, participated in the first voyage of Samuel de Champlain and Pierre Du Gua de Monts to Acadia that year.

9. The prairie vistas are not the only big things in Saskatchewan. The province’s Legislative Building in Regina is the largest capital building in Canada. Planning for the building began less than a year after Saskatchewan became a province on September 1, 1905. The home of Saskatchewan’s Legislative Assembly, the building opened on October 12, 1912, and is surrounded by one of the largest urban parks in North America. The façade and interior reflect the beaux-arts architectural style of the time.

10. Edmonton is home to the largest mall in North America, the West Edmonton Mall, at 4.9 million square m. From 1981 until 2004 it was the largest mall in the world. The shopping centre boasts 800 stores and services, including 2 hotels and more than 100 restaurants. Approximately 30.8 million shoppers descend on it each year. That’s serious retail therapy.


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