A hard blow: The case of the missing Signal Hill arrows

A Parks Canada manager says the wind most likely blew off the monumental arrows at the national historic site.

Taken as souvenirs or swept off by the wind? Parks Canada replaces Signal Hill tourist signs

Parks Canada installed new signs on the pole earlier this week and says wind is likely to blame for the missing arrows. (Todd O'Brien)

A popular sign post that sits at the top of Signal Hill in St. John's has been uncharacteristically bare — and that's spurred Parks Canada into action.

The multi-directional sign is covered in arrows telling the public the distance between St. John's and various cities around the globe. For instance: 1,882 kilometres to New York, 3,582 kilometres to Bristol and 2,128 kilometres to Toronto.

But a recent Facebook post pointed out that many of the arrows have been missing from the sign — and allege they haven't been replaced in years — leaving some to wonder whether the arrows were stolen.

Glenn Keough, manager of visitor experience at Parks Canada, says high winds are likely to blame for the disappearing directional arrows.

Glenn Keough is the manager of national historic sites and visitor experience at Parks Canada (Todd O'Brien/CBC)

"If it's windy in St. John's, it's twice as windy up here on Signal Hill," he told CBC Radio's On The Go.

"We get an awful lot of heavy winds. That does loosen some of the signs … We have lost a lot of them." 

More secure signage

Keough said Parks Canada has recently replaced the metal arrows with plastic ones, just in case they fly off and hit someone on the hill. It's also installed new locks and screws to secure the signs to the post. 

"We're hoping it's going to prevent the wind from rattling back and forth, so it's more secure," he said.

The Signal Hill directional signs, on a slightly chillier day. (Submitted by Joyce Nash-Conway)

According to Keough, the job was always part of a bigger Canada 150 project to replace all of the old signs and repaint the pole in time for Canada Day.

The public attention on social media, Keough said, just gave Parks Canada "more of a push to get it done right away."

Some speculate the signs went missing after people had pocketed them as souvenirs. But Keough said there's no proof to suggest that's the case. 

"People in this area really respect this site [so] I'm leaning more towards the weather," he said, adding, "In case people have any recommendations to do that, we strongly discourage it." 

With files from Todd O'Brien