WebStamp April 04, 2018
Centre Street Bridge Lion
While you are visiting the Family of Horses, which we explored last issue, go up the steps to the Calgary Municipal Building and admire one of the original lions that sat atop the Center Street Bridge. This historic piece of Calgary Public Art is the first one to be restored and was used to create a mold for the casting of 4 new lions that now guard our historic Center Street Bridge. Originally sculpted in 1916 and installed in 1917, the crumbling lions were removed in 1999 during bridge renovations and replaced with the new ones.
A Scottish stonemason, James L. Thompson, who was working as a city labourer and still sculpted in his spare time was assigned the task of sculpting the ornaments in a shed just east of the bridge. The lions were modeled after the bronze lions found at the base of Nelson's Column in London’s Trafalgar Square.
He also sculpted the symbolic ornamentation surrounding the kiosks which represent the city’s background. The roses for England, shamrocks for Ireland, thistles for Scotland, buffalo heads for Western Canada and maple leaves for Canada.
This majestic lion is part of Calgary’s heritage guarding the entrance to City Hall since 2003 had rested on the southwest tower of the bridge. Having the least damage of the foursome it was chosen to be restored by local artist Ilyas Pagonis. One of its brothers is currently being restored by the same artist to be placed in Rotary Park overlooking the Center Street Bridge for its 100th anniversary. The two remaining lions rest in storage in a southeast city maintenance yard, covered in heavy duty, UV resistant tarps to provide protection against the elements.
Take the opportunity to step back in time and explore one of Calgary’s famous historic public art that portrays Calgary’s majestic existence. This lion has greeted thousands of people as it sat majestically on the Center Street Bridge and continues to greet thousands more visiting City Hall.
Share This Article
Articles in this Issue
Improving the Local Economy
by Connecting Calgarians
With their Communities