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Toronto’s Old City Hall – A Copper Roof Extraordinaire

Unless you have an interest in copper roofs, you might wonder why sometimes pictures of Old City Hall in Toronto shows it with either a shiny reddish-gold roof, a dull-finish dark brown roof, a beige roof, a grey roof or a green roof.

No, the city is not squandering your tax dollars on constantly replacing the Old City Hall’s roof. The building sports perhaps the best example of a copper roof in the city. And the fact that, since the beginning of the 2000s, we have all been able to witness the change in the roof’s colour through all the shades listed above, makes us very lucky.

A hallmark of copper roofs, and one of the reasons it is coveted as a roofing material, is the fact that, over time, the shiny finish it features when first installed evolves through a spectrum of colours until it reaches the much-desired green patina that adds so much character to a home or building.

Completed in 1899, Old City Hall was originally topped with a clay roof. But ongoing problems with the roof, and the difficulty of fixing them on the roof’s steep 75-degree pitch, lead to the installation of a copper roof in the late 1920s.

After a number of years, that roof attained its green patina. That’s why photos of Old City Hall taken before 2000 show it with a ‘green’ roof. The beginning of the new century saw the start of the roof’s replacement with new copper cladding. The replacement of the roof was part of a larger, overall restoration of the building .

The reroofing project took over 5 years. The original shiny copper finish doesn’t last long as it is constantly exposed to the elements. Today, 12 years after the reroofing project was completed, the roof has a dark brown finish.

So, any time you’re downtown, try to get a glimpse of the Old City Hall’s roof and even take a picture. When you do, you’ll be witnessing and recording part of a constant

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