Historic Centre Street Bridge lion statue finds new home at Rotary Park
CALGARY – One of four iconic lion sculptures which used to guard the Centre Street Bridge will soon become a permanent resident at Rotary Park.
The lions, built in 1916 and installed in 1917, adorned the bridge for nearly 100 years. They were cast by Scottish mason James L. Thompson and modeled after the lions at the base of Lord Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square in London, England.
The weathered statues were removed in 1999 prior to bridge renovations.
“They were being damaged,” city historian Harry Sanders explained. “They were exposed to the elements and they were decaying.”
The lions which adorn the bridge currently are newly made replicas.
One of the four original statues sits out front of Calgary City Hall, while the other three remain in storage.
On Monday, the City of Calgary announced the lion which used to sit on the northeast section of the bridge would be relocated to the northeast park.
“The location in Rotary Park allows citizens an opportunity to appreciate the century-old lion sculpture in a new and accessible space where it can be viewed from the Centre Street Bridge, Memorial Drive and in Rotary Park itself,” Sarah Iley from the City of Calgary said in a news release.
Workers will transport the 13-ton sculpture from storage to a city facility to undergo repairs, a process which is expected to take four days.
“Repair efforts will primarily focus on stabilizing the lion for installation in the public realm in a way that celebrates its age. Emphasis will be on preserving, conserving and repairing the lion, not on fully restoring it,” Sarah Meilleur from the Calgary Heritage Authority said.
“The goal is to honour its heritage, paying a genuine and well-deserved tribute to the lion as one of Calgary’s artifacts.”
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