The Four Sisters Come Tumbling Down

Summary: Dave's email and a translation of a translation of the original detailing the demolition of "The Four Sisters". Inspired by the TV show Newsradio's "Super Karate Monkey Death Car" episode.



The 4 Sisters were a huge landmark on the north shore of Lake Ontario for decades. They were part of Ontario Hydro’s coal-fired power generation system and stood approximately 154m (505') tall.

As with everything, their time was at an end; however, they were very close to a marina. They were also enormous and their demolition was carefully planned and executed in order to do no damage to the marina, the boats there, or to the environment. 

 At 7 o’clock the morning of June 20, 2006, we climbed in the dinghy and blasted down the lake to be part of this event. We stopped about 2 miles out from shore a bit west of the Sisters and were part of an armada of about a hundred boats of various shapes and sizes.

Later in the day we saw the demolition on the local news; our view had been better than theirs, since we had seen the demolition from the water face-on, whereas the cameraman had been on land to the east of the structures.

Dave sent an email to his friends about the demolition, but for fun, sent them a second copy of the email after having run it through Babelfish to translate it to French and then back to English. The following is his original English email and then the re-translated version after it had gone from French back to English.

(The translation and re-translation idea came from an episode of "Newsradio", in which Jimmy James was to read an excerpt of his book on a book-signing tour. The only version he could find had been translated into Japanese and then back to English. He hadn’t looked at the book before he began to read it to the audience - one of the most hilarious scenes in television history and Stephen Root did it with a straight face.)  You can see a clip of it here.

Sent to pals on June 20, 2006:

The original email:

Heya guyz.

Pretty interesting morning!

AJ and I motored the dinghy out in to the lake and watched the 4-sisters come tumbling down. It was pretty cool.

We were amongst probably 100 boats watching (we were the only rubber dinghy that we could see!). You could hear the popping/rumbling of the explosions rolling across the water, then some dust at the base of the eastern-most tower, then the tower slowly leaning, and one by one, they all came down.

They came down in what seemed very slow motion - almost surreal - and lay in line with the shoreline, mostly east-west. As they fell they kicked up a Huge plume of smoke and dust that grew and grew, and boiled and blew out over the lake, covering some of the closer boats.

We were a safer distance off, and to the west, and got moving as soon as it was over so as not to be taken over and tossed by the wakes of all the other boats heading back to their marinas. By the time we got back to the Ridgetown and entered our harbour (7 or 8 mins, maybe), the smoke/dust plume had travelled the two miles from the stacks to our marina and lay just offshore.

Pretty cool viewing, and we had a way better vantage point than the news crews did (we watched the news this morning afterward and saw what City TV had).  Much fun!

We're sure gunna miss them though - they were the best landmark on the lake.


The translation of the translation:

guyz of heya.

Pretty interesting morning! AJ and me circulated in the car the boat outside inside with the lake and observed the 4-sisters come dégringolant downwards.

The weather was rather fresh. We were among the observation of probably 100 boats (we were the only rubber boat whom we could see!). You could hear the popping/rumbling explosions rolling through water, then of dust at the base of the Eastern-more tower, then the tower leaning slowly, and one, they all are descended. They are descended in what seemed very slow movement - almost surrealist and extends in conformity with the shore, most of the time East-West.

While they fell they gave a kick to the top of an enormous feather of smoke and dust which developed and is developed, and boiled and blew outside above the lake, covering some of the narrower boats. We were not in line a surer distance, and in the west, and become mobile as soon as it was surplus not to be succeeded and not thrown in the air by the wakes of all the other boats not moving again their marinas.

By time we returned in Ridgetown and entered our port (7 or 8 minutes, perhaps), the feather of smoke/dust planes travelled the two miles of the piles to our marina and we were wide right at sea. Pretty fresh viewing, and we had a better advantageous position so that the news is used as team-member (we observed the news this morning afterwards and saw which TV city had).

Much recreation! We are sure that the gunna miss them however - they were the best limiting terminal on the lake.



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