Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

View of Construction from Stanley Park

Vancouverites would go and see the best free show in town: watching the bridge come together and marking its progress. Its highly visible location meant that construction became a great public event. Newspapers commented daily on the developments. Here people watch from a gazebo near the frame house of waterworks caretaker Frank Harris, a well-known character who brought up 10 children there with his wife, Lily. Both structures have since been demolished. On that day, someone showed up in a 1920s roadster to watch the creeper being taken down on the finished north tower. Building a bridge was and is a unique construction puzzle. It is a far trickier undertaking than building a house, as each portion must support itself until the entire structure hangs together as a unit. One can only wonder at the complexity of the calculations, made at that time with nothing more technologically advanced than a slide rule.

WHAT
Photographer David Loughnan’s caption for this picture reads, “North Shore tower now finished and creeper being taken down from top.”

WHERE
This view is from the seawall walk in Stanley Park, which still offers citizens and visitors the most dramatic views of the bridge.

WHEN
This photograph was taken on April 24, 1938.

WHO
Frank Harris, the “merry sage of Stanley Park,” maintained water pipes that carried Capilano River water to Vancouver across the bottom of the First Narrows.

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