Today, one of the original lion sculptures that adorned the Centre Street Bridge from 1917-1999 begins its journey to a new location, one that will give Calgarians a chance to understand and appreciate the cultural significance of the beloved historic artifact.
The northeast lion, which has been identified as the lion in the best condition of the remaining three, will be protected and moved to an indoor City facility where it will be repaired and conserved. In spring 2017, marking the 100th anniversary of the original lions being installed on the Centre Street Bridge, the sculpture will be re-located to Rotary Park, overlooking the Centre Street Bridge.
Created in 1916 by James L. Thomson, a stonemason and employee of The City, the sculpture measures 12 feet in length, 5 feet wide, 8 feet high, and weighs 13 tons. Appropriate for artisans of the day, each lion was composed of several individual pieces, cast separately using a cement-type mortar, and then spliced together over a metal frame.
Working with experts from many fields to provide the technical expertise to move, repair and re-install the lion safely for the public to enjoy, measures are in place to preserve the sculpture’s structural integrity throughout its journey. These experts include structural engineers, heritage architects, art conservators, material specialists and industrial rigging and moving experts.
The Calgary Heritage Authority has been a mainstay in the discussions since the beginning.
The first lion to be restored remains on display in front of the Municipal Building. To learn more about the lions visit The City’s historic resource document on the Centre Street Lion.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.