Welcome to a New Series!

This is the first instalment of a series of posts I call From The Vaults. These are shots of Toronto’s architecture I’ve taken many years ago on film, prior to making the move to digital photography. I’ve been scanning my old film prints to digital lately, so eventually there will be a few more instalments of From the Vaults to post and enjoy.

Today’s Post

For my first From The Vaults post I’m covering the demolition of the CBC Radio/TV Studios and broadcast tower at 345 Jarvis Street. Occurring in 2002, the demolition made way for the construction of the dual-tower Radio City condo project and Canada’s National Ballet School.

After the Jarvis Street transmitter was made redundant by the CN Tower, the CBC continued to use these Jarvis Street studio facilities until moving to the Canadian Broadcasting Centre at 250 Front Street West in 1992.

The adjacent studio complex facing Jarvis Street (now the Ballet School’s Margaret McCain Academic Building) was used for CBC Toronto’s radio and television operations. Prior to CBC doing extensive renovation when they first acquired the property, this building was the original Havergal Ladies’ College, built in 1898. Later, the building became known as the CBC Radio building.

February 2002
Our city view prior to the Radio City towers going up. Note the brown studio building (far right) slowly being demolished floor by floor.
February 2002
Demolition continues on the main studio building, just behind the tower’s left side
May 2002
A few months later the studios are almost a hollow shell
May 2002
The studio building continues to shrink…
July 2002
… and shrink some more
August 2002
The site is almost totally demolished. Just one building remains, lower left of frame, and the broadcast tower still stands… for the moment.

Demolition Starts on the Broadcast Tower

The old CBC broadcast tower was a mass of approximately 1,000 iron girders held together with 10,000 bolts. The tower rose from a base of 63 square feet located between the old Havergal Ladies College – which CBC bought for about $120,000 in 1944-45 – and historic Northfield House built in 1856 on Jarvis Street north of Carlton. The tower was painted red and white as a warning for low-flying aircraft.

The 540-foot freestanding lattice-style tower was built in 1952 to provide radio transmission facilities to the city of Toronto. It was the second tallest freestanding structure in Canada for several years and the second tallest freestanding lattice tower ever built in Canada after the Cambridge Bay LORAN Tower. In addition it was the tallest structure in Toronto for 15 years until the completion of the TD Tower in 1967.

Transmitting from the tower were CBC stations CBL-FM, CBLT and CBLFT, as well as CJRT and CICA-TV. In 1976 almost all broadcast signals in Toronto moved to the CN Tower, making the Jarvis Street broadcast tower redundant.

Early August 2002
Demolition starts on the broadcast tower. As I was watching this years ago I remember wondering if the guy swinging around on that precarious basket/platform was receiving danger pay.
Early August 2002
Demolition continues on the broadcast tower
Early August 2002
The very top section and antenna were dismantled and lifted down by crane
Early August 2002
Removal of the top section continues. It’s hard to see in the shot, but there are two workers clinging to the very top of the tower (right side) as the top segments are lifted away by the crane.

Bring on the Destruction!

Time For the Tower To Go: August 24, 2002

I took these shots as the tower started to fall after the explosives detonated at the base. Luckily I had a power winder going full blast on my film camera at the time, so it just kept snapping away automatically as the structure fell.

The tower starts to lean after the first explosives go off at the base
The descent continues
Almost down
She’s dead, Jim. Nothing left but a cloud of dust and some mangled pieces of iron.
This photo courtesy of Urban Exploration Resources

I have several photos of the Radio City condos and National Ballet School being built on this location – stay tuned for future posts of those.

If you’d like to learn a little more about the CBC demolition and subsequent building of Radio City and Canada’s National Ballet School on this site, check out these links: