Friday, February 18, 2011

Burrard Beauties

On July 1, 1932 Mayor Louis D. Taylor took a pair of golden scissors and cut the ribbon and opened the $3 million Burrard Bridge to the public. Almost immediately vehicles and pedestrians surged across the grand white structure and helped celebrate another step in Vancouver's progression.

Later, at the Hotel Vancouver, a civic reception was held and a replica of the bridge - made totally out of sugar - was unveiled. (My teeth hurt just thinking about it!)
These huge lamps - two at each end of the bridge - were the mastermind of engineer John Grant. They are a tribute to the soldiers of World War II who were prisoners and had to huddle around open fires. The lamps we see today are 1965 replacements of the originals which had to be removed due to corrosion.

There are two concrete structures on either side of the overhead galleries. A story has circulated over the years that  people have lived in apartments in these concrete havens. But that is just an urban myth.

According to G.L. Thornton Sharp - the architect who designed the concrete version - the gallery and the concrete structures hide a network of steel.

The two figureheads are there to represent Captain George Vancouver and Captain Harry Burrard - two seamen who are closely associated with the history of Vancouver. (Interesting note. Burrard apparently never came with 5,000 kilometres of this area. He was an old friend of Vancouver's and had been Vancouver's acting lieutenant on the Europa in the West Indies. George was honoring a friend.)

In the center of the galleries is the arms of the City of Vancouver flanked by windows. (In case you can't read it below the two men it reads 'By Sea and Land We Prosper'. A fitting proclomation considering how this city was founded.)

Design started on this bridge - A Symphony of Steel and Concrete according to one 1932 headline - in 1930 and  was opened in 1932. Work on it was done by consulting engineer J.R. Grant, architects Sharp & Thompson, contractors Hodgson, King & Marble and Dawson & Wade Co. The steel was provided by the Dominion Bridge Co. Ltd. and the Western Bridge Co. Ltd.

Travel to the south side of the Burrard Bridge and you will come to the Seaforth Armoury. Built from 1935 to 1936, this structure is a great example of Scots Baronial style. It is also the home of a Canadian Forces primary reserve infantry regiment, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. The regiment is part of Land Force's Western Area's 39 Area Western Brigade Group.
In 1909 Vancouver's Scottish community wanted a highland regiment in Vancouver. After a year of discussion and planning a letter of request was sent to the Minister of Militia. Eleven months after the request was made, authorization was made and the Scottish community got the number they wanted for the regiment. 72. This was the number for the Seaforth Highlanders in Scotland.

The regiment's first 'action' was in 1912 when they were called upon to maintain peace and order in Nanaimo when striking coal miners inspired riots. Since then they have been called into service during both world wars, Korea, Egypt, Croatia, Cyprus and most recently Afghanistan.

The building itself is a wonder. For the first time in armoury design reinforced concrete technology was used for all major exterior walls and finishes. Due to Vancouver’s susceptibility to earthquakes steel trusses were used in the roof.

The detail shown throughout the exterior shows not only a high level of craftmanship but also the pride felt for the Seaforth Highlanders. A pride still felt today. 2010 was the regiment's centenary and events were apparently held to mark the occasion.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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