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CN Tower

The CN Tower has its roots in the years 1960, the beginning of modern times so to speak. During this period, the city of Toronto has witnessed a period of extraordinary growth and many skyscrapers have mushroomed throughout the city. These high buildings were all built with large amounts of concrete and steel and therefore reflected and even absorbed most radio and television signals. Radio and television towers of this time where simply not high enough to broadcast above the buildings. As a consequence, large groups of people had no or only little access to radio and television. I have experienced this myself.

I am not exactly known as a television maniac, but when my mom came to visit me for the first time in 1997, she convinced me to buy a set. In the end, it turned out to be a great decision. In the beginning, I tried to watch with an antenna but that proved unsatisfactory. Although I could receive a few stations, I could only watch a single station: FOX 29, an American station broadcasting from Buffalo. Even City TV, Toronto's city television, that broadcasts from within the city could not be viewed. The sound was perfect but because of the reflection of the signal, I saw the image four or five times at once, each image being slightly displaced with respect to the others. Hence, the result was unrecognizable and was made up with psychedelic colour combinations that could cause migraine in a rock.

There are, of course, many solutions to this problem but, in the end, it was decided that a tall radio tower should be built. As a result, the population of Toronto enjoys just about the best radio and television reception in the world. We can receive more than 140 different television stations from all over the world.

The construction of the tower started on February 6, 1973. A CN Tower type of building isn't constructed by putting little red bricks on top of each other with a dash of mortar between them. The construction method had to be a little more creative. A kind of mould was made to poor concrete. When the concrete hardened, the mould was pushed upward with a hydaulic system and simultaneously made a little smaller to be filled with concrete again and so on to the top. This part of the construction was finished on February 22, 1974.

Construction of the 7 story ring like structure containing the main observation decks, started in August 1974.

Just as the cherry on the cake, the 102 meter tall antenna consisting of 39 parts still had to be put on top of the building. The heaviest part weighed more than 7 metric tons. Olga, a gigantic Sikorsky helicopter was especially brought in for this task. Before the first part of the antenna could be put into place, a gigantic crane had to be removed.

It is at this moment that the CN Tower nearly turned into a tragedy. During the removal of the crane, it started to sway. The base was twisted and removal was no longer possible. The ten ton helicopter couldn't go anywhere and had only fuel left for 50 minutes because the task was scheduled to take only about 10 minutes. It couldn't wrench the crane away because the crane operator was still in his cabin. Finally, an emergency crew managed to cut the crane loose allowing the helicopter to land safely.

The last piece of the antenna was mounted on April 2nd, 1975 by Paul Mitchell and the tower was opened to the public on June 26th, 1976.

Last updated on April 16th, 2002
© Bart B. Van Bockstaele 1996-2002 - All rights reserved