Season 2 – Episode 04: The CN Tower

The topic for this episode comes straight out of our figurative backyard – The CN Tower! This iconic Canadian landmark was the world’s tallest building from its opening in 1976 right up until 2007 and today we find out how and why this concrete and steel behemoth was built.

Originally built and owned by CN Rail, the CN tower was initially built to house UHF and VHF transmitters as Toronto’s skyline became more crowed in the 1960s and existing TV and radio transmitters had become more and more obstructed. Construction began in 1973 at a cost of $63 million CAD at the time (the equivalent of $350 million CAD today), with a return on CN’s investment only 15 years later, just 4 years prior to ownership being transferred to Canada Lands in 1995.

John has a bit of an axe to grind about including the 104m of steel antenna in the height of the tower rather than capping the measurement with the 450m of concrete shaft, claiming that this is the equivalent of measuring a hat in a person’s height. However, most people’s hats aren’t responsible for providing television and radio signals for a major Canadian city for close to 5 decades so we should potentially make an exception. This enormous antenna was originally the primary purpose for building the tower but today while still operational it broadcasts just 16 channels with the broadcasting making up less than 1% of the tower’s revenue, as it is now primarily a tourist destination with more than 2 million visitors during a normal year.

Being constructed prior to computational modelling meant an enormous number of manual calculations, and designed drafted by hand with pens, ink and slide rules. With a capacity to withstand wind speeds of up to 418km per hour and earthquakes up to 8.5 on the Richter Scale, the CN tower made use of a number of impressive construction techniques such as pre- and post-tensioned cables and also contains copper cables running the entire height of the tower.

Declared one of the modern 7 wonders of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1995, the CN Tower is truly an icon of Canada and the city affectionally known as “the 6ix”, Toronto. 


Image Gallery

The CN Tower as seen from Front St | A towering night time view | John repping all things Toronto | CN Tower, Toronto’s rail lines, and the top of Rogers Centre | Aerial view of the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, and the Toronto Harbour | A view of the CN Tower and Toronto skyline from Lake Ontario


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Music by: John Julius –

Edited by: Astronomic Audio

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