iconic signs canada

The 10 most iconic signs in Canada by city

There are many things that make a city great, but rarely are the neon signs that line a city's streets factored into that equation. In reality, iconic signs play a major role in shaping a city's identity and aesthetic. 

Here are some of the most iconic signs in Canada by city. 

Montreal

The Farine Five Roses sign has been around in some form since 1948, and it's considered one of Montreal's most beloved landmarks. The fate of the sign has been threatened by demolition multiple times in recent years, though many have rallied to keep it intact.

Vancouver

The neon sign that shines outside Save on Meats is not only iconic but also a reminder of what the city once was. Located on a street that was once filled with brightly-lit signs on every block, Save on Meats' landmark sign was one of the few to make it through Vancouver’s anti-neon sign laws from the 1970s. It's been a Vancouver staple since 1957.

Toronto

The neon palm tree sign that adorns the famous music venue El Mocambo has gone through some tumultuous times, but thankfully a new-yet-identical version of the sign still stands tall today. 

Serving as a reminder of some of the iconic musicians that once played the venue (Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, The Rolling Stones), the sign is an essential piece of the city's history. 

Calgary

Calgary's Tigerstedt sign is one of the last neon signs dating back to the early 1950s. It stands 10 feet tall on the city's Tigerstedt Block, one of the only unaltered commercial streetscapes from the early development of the area. Today, the sign and the building it's attached to are both considered Calgary landmarks. 

Winnipeg

Winnipeg's Garbage Hill sign is slightly less historic than some of the signs from other Canadian cities, but it's every bit as important. Officially called Westview Park, Garbage Hill was once a landfill before becoming a hotspot for dog walkers, joggers and tobogganing​.

Now, a permanent Garbage Hill sign styled after the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles sits atop the hill to pay tribute to the landmark residents have come to know and love. 

Ottawa

The old-school sign that once labelled the Ottawa Civic Pharmacy at the corner of Holland and Carling Avenues was recently restored thanks to community efforts. The "CIVIC" sign was originally erected in 1960, inspired by Googie style of architecture.

And though a credit union now sits where the pharmacy once was, the new-and-improved retro sign remains in its place (though it no longer rotates) as a reminder of the city's past. 

Edmonton

With too many iconic signs to choose from, Edmonton has actually created a Neon Sign Museum. The outdoor exhibit features "a collection of functional historic signs that tell a story about Edmonton’s neon past."

Located on the east wall of the TELUS building and the south wall of the Mercer Warehouse building on 104 Street and 104 Avenue, the city collected, restored and displayed 20 historic and iconic neon signs for all to see and appreciate.

Wolfville

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre has a wonderfully-retro neon sign on its exterior, though it's known to be vandalized far too often. The triangular sign spells "ACADIA" in bright yellow letters on both sides and looks like something from a century ago, which is quite fitting considering the theatre was built in 1911. 

Victoria

One of the best neon signs in Victoria isn't decades old like the others. It's not even a couple years old, for that matter. The blue and yellow sign was erected just over a year ago outside Phillips Brewing's tasting room. Designed by local artist Shawn O’Keefe, the neon sign is a new addition to Victoria's skyline with a retro twist. 

Lead photo by

beauty_of_canada


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