Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

Erection of the North Tower

To build the north tower foundation in the sandy foreshore, workers created a caisson (watertight compartment) consisting of a huge bottomless concrete box weighing 8,700 tons (7,900 t). Starting on August 13, 1937, workers gradually sank it by dredging material from the inside. Bedrock was reached three months later, at a depth of 72 feet (22 m) below the starting point. Once the foundation pier had been built, topped with tower shoes and faced with granite, the north tower rose quickly, in about one month. It was completed on April 29, 1938. With the towers in place, wires were strung over them and a pair of temporary catwalks built to act as scaffolding. This infrastructure allowed work on the main cables to begin. Most of the men doing work at great heights were part of an expert crew of the Dominion Bridge Company who had come from Quebec.

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This is the north tower of the bridge nearing completion. The south tower is in the background, with the lighthouse below Prospect Point to its right.

This view shows the north side of the First Narrows entrance to Burrard Inlet.

The photo was taken in the spring of 1938.

Earl McGregor was one of several amateur photographers who compiled private albums of snapshots that documented the bridge’s construction. He worked for the Dominion Bridge Company.

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