Centre Street Lions
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the installation of the original lions on the Centre Street Bridge. To commemorate this event, one of the remaining original lions will be re-located to Rotary Park, on the bluff overlooking the Centre Street Bridge. We will be providing a new base for the sculpture, design the landscape around it, and install interpretive signage in order to deter climbing and vandalism.
Unlike the restored lion in front of the Municipal Building, this lion will show its age. The conservation work done to this lion will stabilize it but will present it in a state of ‘ruin’ or ‘arrested decay’. Its repairs and cracks will still be visible.
History of the lions
The Centre Street Bridge was originally constructed in 1916 and the lions were installed with two facing north and two facing south. Over the years they have become well-known symbols of Calgary’s strength, integrity, and independent character. Exposure to Calgary’s freeze-thaw cycles and the vibrations of the traffic on the bridge has caused the lions to become more fragile with each passing year. Efforts to preserve the original lions have been extensive
In the 1970’s and 1980’s the bridge and lion statues under went major repairs to extend their life. In 1992 both the lions and bridge were designated a Municipal Historic Resource. A year later, the lions were added to our Public Art Collection.
In 1999 the Centre Street Bridge was closed down for major renovations. The lions were removed and with the help of a consulting firm, their physical condition was assessed. The assessment determined that the lions were not suitable for reinstallation on the bridge and out of the four lions, the southwest lion was in the best condition. The Calgary Heritage Authority recommended to Council that it be fully restored, a cast and mould created, and four new replacement lions be made and installed on the renovated bridge.
The fully restored original lion was place at the entrance of the Municipal Building. It proudly greets thousands of visitors every year since it’s unveiling in 2003.
The remaining two original lions are in storage to protect them from the elements. They are very frail and we are currently looking into solutions for the movement and conservation of them.