|This compass at the Brant Inn Node is more than just a compass!
The Brant Inn Compass is located in the west end of Spencer Smith Park. The City of Burlington, on its web site, refers to this area as the Brant Inn Node. The Node links two of Burlington's busiest and most viable waterfront parks: Spencer Smith and Beachway.
The compass with a diameter of 59 feet was built in 1998 as part of a work to develop the former Brant Inn site. This picture was taken from the old Brant Inn's parking lot which is still in use today (November, 2003) at the SE corner of the Lakeshore Road and Maple Avenue intersection. The Brant Inn was torn down April 1969.
Just a compass?
No. It is more than a large compass. It has amphitheatrical qualities known only by a few. Stand in the right spot on the compass and if you are facing the right direction you will be amazed at what you hear if you start speaking! It may seem silly standing there talking to nobody but it sure is an interesting experience. On a busy day hundreds of people walk, bicycle or rollerskate right through this area without realizing the acoustical oddity of the compass. Engineers at City Hall explained that this oddity is simply a fluke and that acoustics were not part of the compass design.
How does it work?
The depth of the groves in the concrete and the height of the concrete cement blocks are the key ingredients for this acoustical phenomenon. As one speaks, the sound travels down the grove, bounces of the cement block and back to the the person standing near the centre of the compass.
Ready to give it a try?
Follow the instructions as shown below. Studies have shown that the best results are obtained by following ALL instructions.
- Stand back approximately 12" (30.5 cm.) from the centre of the compass (white dotted line).
- Look straight ahead towards Lake Ontario (SE direction).
- Lower your head slightly, and look at the base of the concrete cement block (X).
- Start speaking in a normal voice, but not too fast, and discover the amphitheatrical or acoustical qualities of the Brant Inn Compass. It also works facing (E)ast or (W)est but not as good as when facing SE.
- Tell someone else about your experience or send this page to a friend.