Here's how to read Canada’s oldest weather beacon

Michelle MackeyVideo Journalist

It’s Canada’s oldest weather beacon and you might not know it exists.

Standing nearly 100 meters above University Avenue in downtown Toronto is a weather beacon atop the Canada Life Building.

When completed in 1951, it was the third tallest building in Toronto. Today it’s trumped by the CN Tower, along with over 50 other buildings, but its unique light displays and colours make it unmistakable - and they’ll give you the forecast!

Here’s the code:

The beacon light on top indicates sky conditions:

  • Solid green = clear

  • Solid red = cloudy

  • Flashing red = rain

  • Flashing white = snow

The beacon tower lights explain the temperature story

  • Lights shooting up = temperature is warming

  • Lights shooting down = temperature is cooling

  • Lights steady = steady temperature

The time of day is also important:

Content continues below
  • Daytime = signals the balance for the day

  • Night time = forecasts for the following day

Baron toronto beacon

The weather forecast is updated four times a day in conjunction with Environment Canada’s weather station at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

While this is Canada’s oldest weather beacon, it’s certainly not the only one in the world.

Pedestrians in Sydney, Australia can gaze upon Westpac Place for real time barometric pressure change. In Osaka, Japan, the famous Tempozan Ferris Wheel illuminates in coloured lights to indicate the next day’s sky conditions. And of course, there’s the classic weather stone, found anywhere with a sense of humour.