Last Sunday we woke up and caught the first Seabus from Vancouver across to North Vancouver and Lonsdale Quay. The trip across Burrard Inlet takes, oh, 15 minutes or so. We had decided to cycle through North Van and up and over the Lions Gate Bridge before getting dim sum in Chinatown. Arriving at Lonsdale, we fortified ourselves by a cup of coffee and headed towards the bridge, cycling first through the Squamish Indian Nation Reserve. Fifteen minutes later we were at the foot of the bridge and started our cycle up and over.
Lions Gate is of course an iconic landmark for Vancouver. Since the city’s founding talk of building a bridge across the Narrows occurred as early developers realized for Vancouver to thrive it had to expand and grow to the North Shore. In 1927 a plebiscite was held but Vancouverites defeated the plans to build the bridge. Alfred James Towle Taylor, the developer who owned the provincial company mandated to build the bridge, had run out of money to buy the necessary properties in North and West Vancouver but was able to convince the Guinness family – yes, the one of the Irish beer empire – to invest. Those properties were bought and a second plebiscite in 1933 paved the way for construction to begin. Building the bridge took a year and a half and it was opened to vehicle traffic in November 1938, and officially inaugurated by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May of the following year.
Being a city built on water, moving around in Vancouver by car (something to always be avoided) is dictated by bridges and how one can achieve one’s destination with the least number of bridges crossed; zero always being the standard. However, unless you are heading to Port Moody, to get anywhere, bridges are a fact of life and G and I have been caught on Lions Gate, in traffic, too many times to count. Sadly so.
The bridge is also the inspiration for the film/television entertainment giant, Lionsgate Entertainment and Lionsgate Films, and I would bet a pretty penny you’ve watched a film or television show/series handled by this Vancouver-founded company. In fact, Lionsgate – who use the lion that sits at the gate to the bridge (see below) – is the most commercially successful independent film and television distribution company in North America and the seventh most profitable movie studio globally. You have them to thank for the movies: Precious; Juno; The Hurt Locker; The Hunger Games; Warm Bodies; The Impossible; Now You See Me; Red and Red2; The Red Violin; Crash; Monster’s Ball; Gods and Monsters; and The Tree of Life and television shows: Mad Men; Anger Management; and even Hell’s Kitchen for gawd’s sake. So when you’re next at a movie and see Liongate in the opening credits, think of the bridge and Vancouver!