Rock of the Matterhorn – Toronto, Ontario - Atlas Obscura
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Toronto, Ontario

Rock of the Matterhorn

This half-ton piece of the Alps sits at the base of the CN Tower.  

In the shadow of an iconic Toronto landmark, the 1,000-pound “Rock of the Matterhorn” sits alone and almost forgotten. You have to bend down to read the plaque alongside the craggy, egg-shaped piece of rock.

The rock was presented to the city in celebration of the “Salute to Switzerland,” an event held at the CN Tower in May 1981. It measures just over three feet tall, 33 inches wide and 15 inches thick, and is encased in an iron frame.

The plaque notes occasion of the gift and some facts about the Matterhorn: It sits on the border of Switzerland and Italy, is 14,692 feet fall and was first ascended by Englishman Edward Whymper in 1865 (though the plaque does not note that four of the seven climbers died on the descent). The rock itself is made up of gneiss and quartzite, two types of metamorphic rock.

The CN Tower was just five years old when the rock was presented, and at the time it was the world’s tallest free-standing structure at 1,815 feet high. It held the title until 2007, when the Burj Khalifa (formerly known as Burj Dubai) surpassed it.

In the intervening years, further development in the area—including the addition of a Canada 150 sign, one of a number placed across the country for the sesquicentennial in 2017—have almost entirely hidden the rock from view.

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