Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

Operating the Cable Wrapping Machine

The cables were wrapped in the last month before the bridge opened. Here the three workers are operating a compressed-air-driven rotary machine. Workers were not issued any special clothing, footwear or safety equipment. None of these men is wearing a hard hat or a safety harness to catch him in case he loses his footing. They wore street fedoras or caps, and the man on the left is wearing soft shoes. A Maclean’s magazine article from August 15, 1938, illustrates the mindset of the workers who put their lives on the line daily. Any misstep at such heights could have meant serious injury or death. The reporter said of bridge worker Joe Lepage: “The expanse of space below him meant no more to Joe than the distance from kitchen porch to lawn means to the housewife as she hauls in Monday’s washing from the line.”

WHAT
This photo shows workers operating the cable-wrapping machine. The lowest of the three men is working from the catwalk.

WHERE
This picture was taken on the north approach to the north tower, with the Capilano River and West Vancouver visible in the background.

WHEN
This photo was taken on October 19, 1938. Cable wrapping took place once the 61 individual cable strands had been clamped into place and the roadway hung from the suspender ropes.

WHO
Canada’s premier high-steel construction workers came primarily from Montreal. They were employed by the Dominion Bridge Company, contracted to install the cables.

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