Ottawa Bollards vs. Toronto Bollards

Do the two capitals in Ontario have different senses of style?

Side by side pictures of the Toronto skyline with the CN Tower and Ottawa’s Parliament buildings
Ontario’s two capitol cities have an ongoing friendly competition.

Ontario’s two biggest cities have an ongoing friendly rivalry. Residents argue about which is the best city, in categories from restaurants to infrastructure. The competition carries into the hockey arena. Every year, the NHL promotes the Battle of Ontario when the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators square off.

As capitals—Toronto the provincial capital, and Ottawa the federal one—both cities have government buildings and embassy spaces. They are both home to organizations that may come under attack. Both towns have a need for good bollards. At the same time, as cultural centers, Toronto and Ottawa each have historical buildings with beautiful architecture. In each city, architects are making their mark with interesting, unique builds. Attractive bollards with distinctive style are important.

We wondered if Toronto, recently in a decade-long housing boom, would have a marked modern style in their bollard orders. Would Toronto bollards reflect new architectural trends? In comparison, would Ottawa bollard orders be made to match the grand classical designs of a bygone era? We investigated our data to find out and were surprised at what we found.

Two bollards block a pathway in front of a stone and tile building on a university campus.
Favorite Toronto bollards have a classic aesthetic that complements many architecture styles.

Toronto bollards: surprisingly traditional

A bollard with fluted sides and a ball cap

R-7589 Bollard Stats:

  • Height: 35 in
  • Body Diameter: 7-3/4 in
  • Base Diameter: 15 in
  • Weight: 111 lbs
  • Material: Ductile Iron
  • Max Interior Pipe Diameter: 4-1/2 in

We suspected the current housing boom would mean Toronto preferred modern looks. We were surprised to learn instead that Toronto’s favorite bollards are all in tapered, traditional styles. Top-of-the-class R-7589 looks a bit like a chess pawn, with fluting through the body and round cap. The style often goes with classical or neo-classical architecture but lends a little atmospheric flourish anywhere.

Toronto’s ductile iron bollards are often used as decoration for impact-protective steel pipe. However, in our largest orders, there are often one or two shipped with removable mounts. Removable variations maintain the look of a site while providing a traffic-guiding solution to spaces with variable vehicle access.

Toronto’s second-runner up was another ornate bollard, the R-7582. Often, a city will show preference for one cast iron bollard and one stainless-steel bollard: Toronto’s top two being cast iron sets the city out as one looking to make a statement. The R-7582 is like the top seller but has a larger spherical cap that sits flush to the bollard body, rather than having the cap sit above the bollard on a smaller diameter “neck.”

Interestingly, both traditional designs hearken back to the days when bollards were often made from spent cannons. A cannon might be buried muzzle up. To close the muzzle’s opening, an oversize cannonball would be placed on top of the bollard, creating the look of a cap sitting flush to the bollard body, like in Toronto’s second-best bollard. Conversely, a cannon buried muzzle down would be topped with a “knob” sitting atop a “neck” that was used in aiming and moving the cannon. These knobs were usually smaller than the one we see on R-7589. In both cases, the design has been stylized over time, as foundries—especially in Britain—began to develop smaller patterns built for crowded pavement.

Bollards wrapped in reflective tape block a path beside a sloping green space
The ball cap of these bollards is a traditional element updated for a modern design.

Ottawa bollards: clean, geometrical lines

A black bollard with straight sides, three annular rings, and a ball cap on a white background

R-7571 Bollard Stats:

  • Height: 40-1/2 in
  • Body Diameter: 5-3/4 in
  • Base Diameter: 5-3/4 in
  • Weight: 64 lbs
  • Material: Ductile Iron
  • Max Interior Pipe Diameter: 4-1/2 in

Our predictions were again confounded when we looked into purchase orders from Canada’s capital. We thought Ottawa bollards would be traditional, to match the atmosphere of a governmental town. We imagined that Ottawa might even have bought some of the large 52” bollards that were modelled explicitly on cannon barrels—rather than buying their stylistic smaller counterparts as bought by Toronto.

However, Ottawa showed a preference for clean-line modern bollards. The R-7571 still has a traditional ball-cap, but it is low profile and straight-sided, with three annular rings that provide urbane decoration.

One of the benefits of the rounded cap is that it will not hold a lot of debris like coffee cups or falling leaves. In snowy Ottawa winters, it will slough off flakes.

The second-best selling Ottawa bollard was the R-8902, or stainless steel bollard, easily adaptable as either a bollard cover or a lightweight, removable option. This bollard is a very simple column, a brushed-stainless cover for steel pipe. It has a gently-domed, debris-defeating top.

A stainless steel removable bollard is embedded next to yellow detectable warning plates
Second-place in Ottawa bollard orders is the smooth stainless steel R-8902.

Every site has different needs, but bollards are sometimes bought by developers for several projects at a time. The top selling bollards into any municipality or region will change year over year: they do not provide a single backdrop to the city.

Further, rather than generic bollards, sites are beginning to opt for custom bollards. Customized bollards are very common in the UK and Europe, where place names, logos, and other designs are cast into the caps and create a unique sense of place.

Whether buying in bulk for many projects or ordering unique bollards to create a particular aesthetic, reach out to our sales team for more information or to get a quote.