Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

Lions Gate Bridge

The beauty of the Lions Gate Bridge struck people right from the start. Suspension bridges had been built all over North America since the late 1800s, and the famous Brooklyn Bridge linking New York City boroughs inspired Vancouver’s visionaries. Canada’s leading bridge architects at the time, Montreal’s Monsarrat & Pratley, designed the span, which has won accolades for its elegance ever since. Dangling at the end of a derrick’s hoisting chain, bridge workman Joe Lepage enthusiastically pronounced it “Light and graceful, like a spider’s web in the sun.” Six decades later, well-known Vancouver author Douglas Coupland wrote this paean: “Perhaps in your city there is a structure so potent and glorious that its existence in your mind becomes the actual architecture of your mind — a structure through which all of your dreams and ideas and hopes are funneled. In my city, Vancouver, there is one such structure, a fairy-tale bridge called Lions Gate Bridge.”

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WHAT
This tinted photo of the Lions Gate Bridge is from a pamphlet of city landmarks produced by the Sun Publishing Company to celebrate the opening of the bridge.

WHERE
This view is from the south end of the bridge at completion, with landscaping and lion sculptures in place. Union Steamship’s SS Capilano II can be seen passing beneath the span.

WHEN
The pamphlet was published in 1939. Celebrated Vancouver photographer Leonard Frank took this picture in black and white.

WHO
Local businesses bought these pamphlets and distributed them to clients. The Sun Publishing Company printed the name, address and telephone number of the company along with “Compliments of” on the cover.

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