Restoration at Old City Hall, Toronto

This month, the Ventin Group (Toronto) Ltd. Architects will finish a $35 million renovation of Old City Hall in Toronto. The beloved four gargoyles atop the clock tower, removed for safety reasons in 1939 after a 50-pound section broke off the gargoyle in the northeast corner the year before, are being fully replaced. The original gargoyles cantilevered out about nine feet, proving too heavy a load given the presence of high winds and freeze-thaw cycles, and because of the stone’s low-tensile strength, which means it is easily breakable. The new gargoyles are made of lightweight bronze, which will not require maintenance for a hundred years. Because only more distant archival photos exist of the originals, only the silhouette and not the intricate details of each creature were replicated. The new creatures derive from an examination of gargoyles and grotesques at Old City Hall, Queen’s Park and the Peace Tower on the federal Parliment building.