The Lions Gate Bridge is one of the most famous suspension bridges in the world. This legendary bridge links Vancouver City and Stanley Park with Northern and Western Vancouver. Considered an architectural and engineering marvel, this bridge represents a major historical site in Canada.
Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge was built on March 31, 1937, during the Great Depression, and was the biggest Depression project undertaken in Canada. This bridge was first available for the public on 29th May 1939. The Lions Gate Bridge project was partially funded by the Guinness brewing family.
The primary reason to build this bridge was to improve transportation and to easily access the entry to the properties in the West and North Vancouver areas.
1. Interesting Facts about Lions Gate Bridge
The bridge shares a very fascinating history of being built by the famous engineer Alfred J.T. Taylor, who built this bridge to encourage the growth of the western Vancouver area. The bridge’s construction and design plans were laid out by Taylor, and an effort was made to start the project by 1920.
1.1. The Bridge Construction Project Was Refused Many Times!
The city of Vancouver rejected and voted against the project because it was deemed unnecessary and impractical then. There have been two proposals for approval of this bridge. But all of these proposals were refused.
The second Plebiscite went down as the Depression triggered and people wanted jobs. The Canadian-Pacific railway was not in favour of constructing a road through Stanley Park and was not approving the project as well.
1.2. A.J. Taylor and His Big Dream Project
Thanks to the continuous efforts of Alfred J.T. Taylor, who with the help of funding from various resources and sponsors, including the Guinness brewing family started the project and completed it within one and a half years.
The bridge’s construction was started in 1937 with the help of funding. The bridge is a suspension bridge, meaning its main structure is backed up by some very strong steel cables. It became a famous suspension bridge upon completing the building in November 1938.
As part of the bridge’s construction project, the Stanley Park Causeway was also constructed. This Highway 1A/99A is an essential part of today’s transportation network. The shipping route under the Lions Gate Bridge was entirely shut down for an hour while the bridge was being built.
On May 29, 1939, during their trip to Canada, the King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, George VI, and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, gave the Lions Gate Bridge it is officially opening to the public.
The ownership of the bridge was changed in 1955 from a private company to the Province of British Columbia when the property was bought for 5873,837.17 dollars. The cost was the same as what was incurred during the building of the bridge.
1.3. Lion Statues Were Built at the Lion Gate Bridge’s Entrance
Two concrete lion statues at the Lion’s Gate Bridge entrance were placed on both sides of the bridge’s south end in 1939. These lion statues were originally designed and built by the famous statue artist Charles Marega. Charles Marega built several famous sculptures on Vancouver’s streets.
He was looking for an opportunity to create lion sculptures in bronze but had limited resources. Two months before his statue was finished, he died.
The museum in Victoria contains a model of the Marega Lion from its early days. Another part of Marega’s work is found in Stanley Park.
1.4. Why Was the Bridge Called the Lions Gate Bridge?
The bridge was not given its name after the lion statues which were placed there, which is the most intriguing aspect of it. The two pointed mountain peaks, “The Lions,” on Vancouver’s north shore were the inspiration for the bridge’s name.
These Canadian mountain peaks in British Columbia were given their names in 1880 because they resembled a sitting pair of lions.
1.5. Other Interesting Developments Over the Years
1.5.1. Development of Lights
The Lions Gate Bridge lights were installed in 1986 during the Expo and were funded by the Guinness family. The lights gave the bridge a gorgeous look during the night. In 2009, these lights were replaced with LED lights to cut power consumption and maintenance expenditures.
1.5.2. Development of Construction
A.J. Taylor’s ashes were scattered over the Lions Gate Bridge’s surrounding area as per his final wish before his death. His baby shoes were inserted inside one of the lion statues as a tribute to his obstinate demeanour and outstanding efforts on the bridge’s construction.
1.5.3. Development of Tax
Commuters were required to pay a toll tax during the Lions Gate Bridge’s initial years of operation. The toll tax was stopped in 1963. Until then, regular pedestrians paid a fee of 7.5 cents, and cyclists paid a fee of 25 cents. The weekly auto ticket was available for $1.25.
1.5.4. Development of Traffic
The bridge, originally constructed as a two-way lanes bridge, was converted into a three-way lanes bridge after the increase in daily traffic in 1952. The third, or centre, lane of the Lions Gate Bridge is reversible and was added to improve traffic flow.
1.5.5. Development of Structure
Later, in 1956, the bridge’s construction was modified to include a partial cloverleaf interchange, which helped with the issue of steadily increasing traffic flow. The North Viaduct bridge deck was rebuilt in 1975 with a more durable and wider structure.
1.5.6. Development of Technique
To replace the older suspension structure, the entire system was rebuilt in 2000. To support the broader lanes and the addition of pavement for pedestrians and a cyclist sidewalk, the new structure was built with a more advanced suspension technique.
2. Why Is the Lions Gate Bridge Recognised as a Valuable Asset of Canadian Heritage?
The length of the Lions Gate Bridge is about 1517 meters, including the approach spans. The bridge was famous for its elegant design and the advanced engineering techniques used in its construction. It was the longest suspension bridge constructed during the British Empire’s reign.
The bridge not only adds to the scenic beauty of Vancouver’s surrounding areas, but it also serves as a crucial transportation route for the city’s residents. The bridge’s significance stems largely from its contribution to Vancouver’s advancement.
The Lions Gate Bridge is a National Historic Site of Canada (March 24, 2005) owing to its massive structure and significance as an architectural marvel in Canadian history.
Among other things, the Lions Gate Bridge boosted the economy of Vancouver’s northern shore. Previously, the western part of Vancouver was isolated from the main city area, and connectivity to this region was not as easy and seamless as it is nowadays.
A plaque honouring the engineers (Monsarrat and Pratley) who created the bridge as well as the organization in charge of delivering the stainless steel used in its construction (Dominion Bridge Company Limited) was erected on the Lions Gate Bridge.
Over time, numerous additional plaques were created and put in place in honour of the engineers who worked on the bridge’s construction, lighting installation, and maintenance.
3. Tours & Activities at the Lions Gate Bridge
Around and within the Lions Gate Bridge, there are many tourist attractions and activities. One of the best highlights of the downtown areas and neighbourhoods of Vancouver is the tours of the Lions Gate Bridge, which are very engaging.
Whether you are a traveller or a city tourist, you can enjoy the regal view of Lions Gate Bridge and explore some of its historical and traditional aspects. There are several tourist plans and tours available to enjoy the scenic beauty of the bridge and its surroundings.
3.1. Tours to Vancouver City and the Lions Gate Bridge
This tour combines all the fascinating sites of Vancouver City’s ecstatic views, its beautiful waterside parks, and tours to Lions Gate Bridge and its surroundings. You can make a half-day plan to visit the city’s rainforest in Stanley Park and then visit Lions Gate Bridge.
You can add some more attractions to this short tour by visiting the surrounding tourist attractions including Vancouver’s north shore municipalities and another famous bridge of Vancouver Capilano suspension bridge and its surrounding park areas.
You can later walk through the Capilano suspension bridge and enjoy the scenic views of the Capilano River and many other tourist activities including the Treetops adventure, a trip back to downtown Vancouver, and the most engaging Granville Island Market visit.
3.2. An Exciting Morning Bicycle Tour Surrounding the Lions Gate Bridge
A morning bicycle ride is a unique experience for people visiting the Lions Gate Bridge. Starting in Vancouver’s west end, you can start riding through numerous tourist sites such as Davie Street Village, the Moll Hill neighbourhood, Robson Square, the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza, and many others.
While bicycling underneath the Lions Gate Bridge, you may explore Third Beach and Siwash Rock, among other popular tourist destinations. At English Bay or the first beach, put an end to your most memorable bike tour.
3.3. Tour the North Shore and Suspension Bridges
A day trip to Vancouver’s North Shore and the suspension bridges, including the iconic Lions Gate Bridge, is also possible. A bike ride through Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge can be incorporated. Visit Grouse Mountain and the Capilano River’s hatchery as well.
3.4. Take a Walk across the Massive Lions Gate Bridge
A walk through one of the most photographed landmarks, the Lions Gate Bridge, is one of the must-haves on your tour list. The two lion statues on both sides of the bridge’s northern main gate are the bridge’s major sites. You can also take a bus ride across the bridge and get a ferry ride for a broader view of the Lions Gate Bridge.
While crossing the bridge on foot or by vehicle, you can see how the traffic is moving. The direction of the traffic flow is typically toward downtown Vancouver during the morning rush hour and the North Shore during the evening rush hour.
You may stroll along the promenade on the west side and take in the most picturesque view of downtown Vancouver. During the walk, savour the stunning sunset. The Lions Gate Bridge may be photographed at some excellent locations, like Stanley Park and Ambleside in West Vancouver.
4. Recent News and Updates About Lions Gate Bridge
The Lions Gate Bridge connects various areas of Vancouver, and any limitations could have an impact on the lives of Vancouver residents. On April 30, 2022, the bridge was closed in both directions for the weekend to improve the traffic counterflow system.
The Vancouver Police Department closed the Lions Gate Bridge during peak traffic hours on September 21, 2022, due to a police incident. As a result, traffic was extremely congested during those hours.
Many people crowded on the Lions Gate Bridge on October 29, 2022, to form a human chain to support the Iranian protests. Protesters participated in the rally, and a human chain stretched the length of the Lions Gate Bridge and the Stanley Park Causeway.
It’s amazing how frequently the Lions Gate Bridge has appeared in films considering how well-known a landmark it is. Many movie enthusiasts were shocked to see the bridge collapse in Final Destination 4. The bridge has appeared in numerous other films, including 6th Day, Deadpool 2, and TRON: Legacy.
A plan to include further activities, such as climbing the two iconic towers of the Lions Gate Bridge and taking in the breathtaking views from the top, was planned in 2020 to further boost the area’s tourist appeal.
The proposal was denied for several reasons, one of which was the potential distraction this activity would pose to commuters crossing the bridge on bikes or in cars.
An important turning point for Vancouver and the neighbouring areas is the Lions Gate Bridge. It has an illustrious past of construction and preservation of elegance and beauty. The increased traffic in the area required numerous modifications to this bridge.
Many tourists and locals alike find this bridge to be an exclusive attraction. There are many reasons to go to the Lions Gate Bridge, including the fact that it is an engineering masterpiece that shines at night and astounds onlookers with its magnificent display.