CN Tower in Toronto view from the bay Photographer: Aditya Chinchure
CN Tower | © Aditya Chinchure via

Canada is known for many things, including countless amazing feats of architecture! Across all ten provinces, locals and travelers alike will find majestic castles, one-of-a-kind modern structures, and some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. This sprawling country is home to more iconic architecture than would fit into one blog post. Are you just getting started on your educational journey through Architecture in Canada? Here are the 10 most iconic buildings found in Canada.

CN Tower

CN Tower in Toronto view from below. Photographer: Devindra Sookar
CN Tower | © Devindra Sookar
CN Tower in Toronto view from below. Photographer: Ferdinand Stohr
CN Tower | © Ferdinand Stohr

Towering 1,815.3 feet above Downtown Toronto, CN Tower is not just the tallest building in Canada; it’s North America’s tallest building. This communications and observation tower was erected in 1976 to broadcast signals across Ontario. The letters CN refer to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower. In 1995, the tower was transferred to the Canada Lands Company, responsible for the nation’s real estate development. The famous CN Tower was the world’s tallest free-standing structure for 32 years and was declared one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World in 1995. This impressive tower stands out proudly over Lake Ontario, serving as an official welcome sign for long-time locals, first-day tourists, and new Toronto residents alike. 

Sharp Centre for Design

Sharp Centre for Design by English architect Will Alsop
Sharp Centre of Design | © Thomas Hawk via

The Sharp Centre for DesignCanada’sof Canada’s most unique and widely recognizable structures. This unusual building was designed by English architect Will Alsop and is named after its benefactors, Rosalie and Isadore Sharp. This Toronto landmark opened in 2004 as part of a major campus redevelopment project at the Ontario College of Art and Design. The large structure resembles a tabletop that rests on twelve steel columns and houses teaching spaces, meeting rooms, offices, art studios, and exhibition spaces where students can exhibit thIt’sworks. It’s also used for various events and includes a cafeteria, gallery, and auditorium.

Gooderham Building

Gooderham Building by Adrien Marchetti via
Gooderham Building | © Adrien Marchetti via

The Gooderham Building is a historic office building in Toronto called the Flatiron Building. It was designed by David Roberts, Jr. in the Romanesque Revival style and is named after George Gooderham, who owned it then. This beautiful structure is found in the city’s Financial District and was completed in 1892.It features a red brick edifice that was common for its time and is now one of Toronto’s most iconic buildings. It looks west down Front Street toward the building’s rounded corner and is framed on each side by the heritage commercial blocks with views of skyscrapers, including the famous CN Tower. The Gooderham Building is one of Toronto’s most photographed structures.

Habitat 67

Habitat 67 designed by Moshe Safdie for Expo 67
Habitat 67 | © Karin Kloosterman via

Habitat 67 was designed by Moshe Safdie for Expo 67 and is now the Expo’s only remaining original pavilion. This beautiful, modern structure provides amazing views of the river, downtown, and the Old Port of Montreal, Canada. Habitat 67 offers guided tours, but it’s also one of Montreal’s most sought-after waterfront homes for those looking to get an incredible view of the river and surrounding cityscape. This bold building features the brutalist architectural style with different cubes that residents can live in. Each apartment offers views on three sides and a terrace, ranging from 624 to 3,000 square feet, with central heating and air conditioning and a range of amenities.

Château Frontenac

The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac | © Julie Boulanger via

The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (often called Chateau Frontenac) is a massive historic hotel located in Quebec City. This legendary hotel was designed by Bruce Price and built by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. It opened in 1893 and features 18 floors, five brick and stone wings, and a central tower with seven levels. The Chateau Frontenac was designated a Historic Site of Canada in 1981 and has been expanded three times, with the last major project being completed in 1993. This beautiful, legendary hotel is situated on a cliff that overlooks the St. Lawrence River near the Quebec historic district.

The Parliament Buildings

The Parliament Buildings by Sarah Baxter
The Parliament Buildings | © Sarah Baxter via

The Parliament Buildings are located on Parliament Hill and house the Parliament of Canada. The buildings are arranged around a central lawn and feature various uses, with each building being overseen by the speaker of each chamber of the Canadian legislature. The buildings were built in the Gothic Revival style and were completed in 1865, 1866, and 1876 and contain ministers’ and senators’ offices as well as administrative spaces and meeting rooms. The Parliament Buildings were designed by several architects over a span of time, each one carefully created to evoke the Gothic buildings of the 12th and 13th centuries with detailed ornamental work and sandstone components.

Canada Place

Canada Place View at night by matt wang
Canada Place | © Matt Wang via

Canada Place, an architectural gem located in Vancouver, was constructed in 1986 by the Canadian federal government. Designed by the renowned firms Zeidler Roberts and Musson Cattel Mackey, it stands as a multifunctional venue, serving as Vancouver’s primary trade and convention center, a luxurious hotel, and a bustling cruise ship terminal. This striking structure was also the site of the Canada Pavilion during the Expo 86 World Fair and is erected on a 1,597-foot pier.

Its design is notably marked by five 363-foot-high Teflon sails, evoking a visual similarity to the iconic Sydney Opera House. Nestled at the pier’s southern tip is the five-star Pan Pacific hotel, boasting 23 stories of opulent accommodation. Following its role in the World Fair, the Canada Pavilion was transformed into the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, with ownership officially transferred to British Columbia in 1987. Adding to the building’s allure, the recent Vancouver windows replacements project has further enhanced its aesthetic and functional qualities, merging modernity with its timeless design.

Science World

Science World by tommy nguyen from the bay
Science World | © Tommy Nguyen via Unsplash

Science World is an iconic building located in Vancouver and is the city’s main non-profit science center. The unique structure was built to serve as the main structure for Expo 86 and was designed by architect Bruno Freschi. Science World opened in 1985 and is a large geodesic dome that was part of a 225-acre development for the World Fair and is reminiscent of the Montreal Biosphere. Today, this iconic building is run by a non-profit organization that sees visitors from all over the world. The building overlooks False Creek and has 391 lights that turn on at night. Inside, visitors will find a wide range of educational activities and enjoy an interactive learning experience along with changing exhibits.

Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal

Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal by Timothy l brock
Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal | © Timothy L. Brock via Unsplash

Located in the historic district of Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal is one of the most dramatic historical churches in the world. Known for its dramatic architecture, it is considered a masterpiece of the Gothic Revival style and was built in 1672 by architect Francois Baillairge.

The basilica’s interior is equally impressive, featuring deep blue vaults decorated with golden stars and an array of vibrant colors such as red, purple, silver, gold, and azure. Visitors will also find hundreds of intricate wooden carvings and statues. The stained-glass windows depict important moments in Montreal’s religious history, further enhancing the church’s beauty.

With approximately 11 million visitors annually, the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal is one of North America’s most popular tourist destinations and a must-see for anyone interested in history, architecture, and religion.

Casa Loma

Casa Loma by Tommao wang
Casa Loma | © Tommao Wang via Unsplash

Casa Loma (Spanish for “Hill House”) is a stunning Gothic Revival mansion and garden located in midtown Toronto. Today, although it may look like a luxury home, it is a historic house, museum, and landmark that is open to the public. The building was constructed from 1905 to 1915 by architect E.J. Lennox and was home to financier Sir Henry Pellatt. Because of its unique design, Casa Loma has been used to film several movies and television shows. It can also be rented in the evenings when the museum closes and is a popular wedding venue for many couples. It operated as a luxury hotel for a short time in the late 1920s and was a popular spot for wealthy Americans during the Prohibition period.

Canada: Brimming with Beautiful Architecture

From modern luxury homes to Gothic revival churches and artistically designed university buildings, it’s easy to see that Canada is filled with thoughtfully designed architecture. Whether you want to gaze at the view from CN Tower or visit the marvelous Science World, there are plenty of inspirational structures to explore. Use the buildings from this list to get an in-depth tour of Canada’s incredible and most famous buildings to discover all of the amazing things this North American country has to offer.