Original Centre Street Bridge Lion Project
The lion from the northeast side of the Centre Street Bridge was chosen and taken in for repairs and conservation. The preserved lion will be displayed in Rotary Park, on the bluff overlooking Centre Street Bridge. From this location, Calgarians can view the original preserved lion in the park and the recast replacement lions on the bridge.
Arrested Decay Conservation Approach
The original lion sculpture from the Centre Street bridge, created by James Thomson, has been conserved to remain in a state of "arrested decay". This means the lion is displayed to show its age and history through preserving the visual indicators of wear such as cracks and weathering from exposure to the elements.
Rotary Park is the new home of a Centre Street Bridge original lion. It gives Calgarians the chance to view and enjoy the century-old sculpture in a fresh location that is accessible to everyone. It also shows the connection between our city's past, present and future. The original lion now overlooks the recast bridge lions on Centre Street Bridge. The best way to enjoy the preserved Centre Street Bridge lion is to visit it in Rotary Park. You can see and experience a valuable and artistic piece of our city's history, while also viewing where it came from-and the newly cast lions that now sit on the Centre Street Bridge.
The original Centre Street Bridge lions were created in the likeness of the bronze lions at the base of the Nelson monument in London's Trafalgar Square. Over the years, the lions grew to be well-known symbols of Calgary's strength, integrity and independent character. They were extremely beloved by our citizens.
In 2013 Council asked that the original Centre Street Bridge lions be part of the West LRT public art process. After public consultation, the community engagement on this idea, there was a lack of strong public support for incorporating the lions into the West LRT and Rotary Park was chosen as the new location.
Project consultants and contractors
- Conservation and Heritage - (Illyas Pagonis, CSI Conservation Solutions ULC., Wiss Janney Elstner Associates Inc., Taigh Architecture Inc.)
- Design – Scatliff + Miller + Murray
- Construction – Hurst Construction Management Inc.
The budget came from both the West LRT public art budget, and the Public Art Reserve which funds the maintenance and preservation of Calgary's Public Art Collection.
The budget was $500,000, which includes costs for conservation, design, construction and transportation
Northeast lion moved for conservation work
Arrested decay conservation
- 1916 - Centre Street Bridge built.
- 1917 - Original four concrete lions installed on bridge.
- 1970s/80s - Lions undergo major repairs.
- 1992 - Centre Street Bridge with lions designated a municipal historic resource.
- 1993 - Lions added to Public Art Collection.
- 1999 - Centre Street Bridge closed for major renovations, condition of lions assessed as deteriorating.
- 2000 - Council directs the repair, preservation and public display of the southwest lion and that it be used to make four new lions.
- 2000 - New lions recast from an original and reinstalled on bridge.
- 2003 - Original lion that was used as a mold, placed outside Municipal Building.
- 2013 - Council directs remaining original lions be incorporated into West LRT public art.
- 2014 - Community engagement shows lack of strong public support for using lions in West LRT public art, new direction is taken.
- 2018 - One original lion to be repaired, conserved and displayed in Rotary Park. Remaining two lions are in storage to protect and preserve them for foreseeable future.
- Completed summer 2018