Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

The Lions, South Entrance of Lions Gate Bridge

As a final touch, a pair of monumental Art Deco-style lions was installed at the bridge’s south entrance. Made of concrete, they were the last major work of Italian-born Vancouver sculptor Charles Marega, who died of a heart attack two months later. The lions rank among Vancouver’s most admired statuary. Marega was disappointed with the working material, though he was happy to get the job during the Depression. He wrote this to his family in Switzerland:

“I am modelling a lion for the Vancouver suspension bridge. I had much trouble to get the work … But the president of the bridge committee [A. J. T. Taylor], who is a long-standing friend of mine … finally assigned the work to me. I would have preferred the lions to be in bronze or stone — but it has to be cheap, so they will be done in concrete, which annoys me … However I have to content myself to get work at all.”

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A pair of monumental concrete lions adorn the south entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge.

The lions were created in Vancouver, although the bridge engineer, a native of Montreal, pushed to have them modelled in his home town.

The lions were installed in time for the official opening on May 26, 1939.

Sculptor Charles Marega came to Vancouver in 1909. He finished the lions shortly before his death in 1939.

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