MUN clock tower

Less a nook or a cranny than a giant cement behemoth, Memorial University’s clock tower is not without its curiosities.  

Costing $500,000, the Memorial Tower was paid for in 2000 by the Johnson Family Foundation (of Geo Centre fame). Although controversial, its promoters said it served three important functions: to “provide a visual focus” for the campus, to commemorate the war dead (remember the ‘M’ in MUN?), and, of course, to tell time.

Although vaguely central, the clock tower doesn’t quite manage the impossible task of unifying the ad hoc, mixed-material sprawl that is campus – it just adds another element.  Student lore has it that it was never actually finished.  Some say there was to be a dome, a spire, and even an “eternal flame” capping the tower.  If you look closely you’ll see pieces of rebar jutting out of the cement top.

The triangular tower does display a large plaque honouring fallen soldiers. Inexplicably, however, it is tucked away on the structure’s least visible side, facing a concrete wall.  (Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls; the clock tower doesn’t.)

As for the Memorial Tower’s more practical function, storm winds blew the clock hands off kilter soon after its construction.  For a while, all three faces told different times. The clock was fixed and for the moment, at least, it’s ticking along beautifully.

– Lesley Thompson and Ben Jackson

One comment

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  1. Maurice · September 28, 2009

    Actually, those “rebars” are lightning rods… quite necessary.

    On the other hand, the clock were never designed to be serviced easily from the outside. Hand problems are big problems. How about being able to swing those clocks inside the tower for service? Any capable engineers out there?