The Tallest Building in Every Province
Discover 10 towering achievements in architecture, from coast to coast.
The Tallest Buildings in Canada
The CN Tower might be the most famous sky-scraping structure in Canada, but you can find tall buildings and towers dominating city skylines from coast to coast. When you look at the tallest buildings in Canada on a province-by-province basis, there’s an incredible range not only in the height, but also the form of these soaring structures, which include office buildings, luxury hotels and even churches. Check out 10 towering achievements of engineering from across the country.
The Tallest Building in Ontario
CN Tower, Toronto
For 32 years, the CN Tower was actually the tallest free-stranding structure in the world. Although it remains one of Toronto’s premiere tourist attractions, the tower was originally built to serve one very important purpose: to improve the quality of broadcast signals in the city’s rapidly growing downtown core. You see, as the city of Toronto grew in the 1970s, big buildings, most notably First Canadian Place, started blocking broadcast signals. The CN Tower was designed to raise the signals more than half a kilometre into the sky where they could more easily reach rooftop dish antennae. In the planning phase, one clever engineer insisted on adding an observation deck to the otherwise utilitarian structure, allowing it to become the world-famous attraction it is today. The CN Tower is now the ninth-tallest free-standing structure in the world, and the tallest on land in the western hemisphere.
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The Tallest Building in Alberta
Stantec Tower, Edmonton
When you’re a multi-billion dollar design firm building your own headquarters from scratch, there’s a certain expectation you’re going to make a statement. Stantec did just that by designing the tallest skyscraper in western Canada. Standing at a massive 252 metres, Stantec Tower in the heart of Edmonton’s Ice District features office space (for Stantec and others), 483 residential units (so, in theory, Stantec workers can live in their own office building), and retail space. The 69-storey mixed-use tower is also LEED Gold Certified, meaning it’s designed to be environmentally-friendly in a variety of ways, including reduced carbon emissions. There’s no public observation deck, though, so if you want to take in the breathtaking views, you’ll need to purchase one of those residential units—or make friends with someone who already has.
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The Tallest Building in Quebec
1250 René-Lévesque, Montreal
1250 René-Lévesque (aka the IBM Marathon Tower) is a bit like a person: It wears several different expressions, and even has a sibling in Germany. Montreal’s 226-metre skyscraper, one of the tallest buildings in Canada, was originally intended to separate Montreal’s low-rise residential area from its commercial centre. The “face” of the eastern side of the building—overlooking the commercial centre—is modern, dominated by a vertical fin of curved glass (above, left). Conversely, the face of the western side of the building—towering over the low-rise residential area—offers a sense of texture with granite-clad walls and square windows with irregular setbacks that give the appearance of superimposed stacks. This LEED Gold Certified office building also has a twin: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates designed it to be a near replica of the Westend Tower in Frankfurt, Germany.
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The Tallest Building in British Columbia
Living Shangri-La, Vancouver
Think you couldn’t possibly live your entire life in a single building? Living Shangri-La (above, right) in downtown Vancouver is determined to prove you wrong. The tower makes good use of its 200.9 metres to offer just about everything a person could possibly need, including office space, residential units, a spa, restaurants, shops, a specialty grocery store, a private roof garden and an art gallery. The mixed-use skyscraper is also home to the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, which occupies 15 of the tower’s 62 floors.
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The Tallest Building in Manitoba
201 Portage, Winnipeg
If buildings had eyes (and feelings), 201 Portage would probably be on the receiving end of serious side-eye from its concrete, double-glazed neighbour to the east. Why the jealousy? Manitoba’s tallest building is located right across the street from the Richardson Building, the province’s second tallest building. Located in Winnipeg’s downtown core, 201 Portage has had a few changes in ownership over the years. Originally built by TD Canada between 1988 and 1990 at a cost of $38 million, 201 Portage was later sold to Canwest before the media conglomerate went bankrupt. The building is now owned by a private developer. 201 Portage might not be the tallest building in Canada, but it is the tallest building in the 3,000 plus-kilometre stretch between Hamilton and Calgary. That’s got to count for something!
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The Tallest Building in Nova Scotia
The Vüze (formerly known as Fenwick Tower), Halifax
Not even a hurricane could stop this mighty 35-storey apartment tower from joining our list of Canada’s tallest buildings. During construction of The Vuze (formerly known as Fenwick Tower) in 1971, a powerful hurricane filled the building’s elevator shafts with five metres of water. Construction went ahead and the building opened to become the largest residential project east of Toronto and the tallest building in Atlantic Canada. In 2003, while the tower served as a students residence for Dalhousie University, it was once again walloped by a hurricane, and some occupants were displaced for up to eight weeks as repairs were made. But Halifax’s tallest building lives on, now owned by one of Nova Scotia’s biggest property developers.
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The Tallest Building in Saskatchewan
Nutrien Tower, Saskatoon
Having just opened its doors earlier this year, Nutrien Tower is the newest tall building on our list. Located along the South Saskatchewan River in downtown Saskatoon, this tower is more than just a sky-high office building: it’s also a monument to prairie ingenuity, grit and kindness. Nutrien was designed to help workers endure fierce winter weather: there’s a winter garden on the 18th floor that includes real trees and fire pits, and special glass was used to help the building retain heat without sacrificing workers’ ability to get their daily dose of vitamin D at their desks. Nutrien also has a smudging room, recognizing the Indigenous people of the surrounding lands, and is Rick Hansen Accessibility certified, going above and beyond to ensure those with disabilities can access the building and its amenities. The best detail of all? Nutrien Tower was designed to look a bit like a sheaf of wheat swaying in the wind. Nothing says Saskatchewan quite like an 88.5-metre sheaf of wheat.
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The Tallest Buildings in New Brunswick
Assumption Place, Moncton
Brunswick Square, Saint John
80.8 metres each
What’s the tallest building in New Brunswick? It’s actually a two-way tie: both Assumption Place in Moncton (above, left) and Brunswick Square in Saint John (above, right) are exactly 80.8 metres tall. What are the chances of that? While Assumption Place has more levels than any other building in New Brunswick (20), Brunswick Square has the most office floor space, and is at the heart of the Inside Connection, Atlantic Canada’s longest indoor, climate-controlled pedestrian walkway system.
For more impressive New Brunswick architecture, check out our guide to Canada’s prettiest covered bridges.
The Tallest Building in Newfoundland and Labrador
Confederation Building, St. John’s
At 64 metres tall, Confederation Building is no skyscraper, but perched atop Confederation Hill, with an elevation of 100 metres and overlooking the beautiful city of St. John’s, the post-war modern-style home of Newfoundland and Labrador’s legislative assembly looms large. One thing this building has that most other government buildings don’t? A lantern located at the top of the copper roof that acts as a lighthouse-style beacon at night.
Note: Though Confederation Building might be Newfoundland and Labrador’s tallest building on land, it’s got nothing on the hulking Hebron Platform, a 278-metre tall oil rig in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin. The rig is four times taller than the province’s tallest building and about half the height of the CN Tower.
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The Tallest Building in Prince Edward Island
St. Dunstan’s Basilica, Charlottetown
St. Dunstan’s Basilica, one of Charlottetown’s must-see historical landmarks, is a monument to Maritime resilience and determination. The basilica was originally built in 1816 and underwent a few transformations before being destroyed by fire in 1913. However, that’s not where this story ends. Islanders resurrected this church from the ashes in 1919, rebuilding it in Victorian Gothic Revival style. To this day, the basilica’s epic spires—which reach heights of 61 metres—remain the highest points in the city’s skyline.
Now that you’re familiar with the tallest buildings in Canada, check out 10 Canadian castles worth visiting.