Stretching from Stanley Park over Burrard Inlet to the north shore is the stunning Lions Gate Bridge. Anyone who has ever ventured around the seawall or stood at Brockton Point will have seen this magnificent bridge in all its glory. There are other great vantage points in the park from which to gaze upon this wonderful structure including the viewing area at Prospect Point and, travelling slightly south back down the road from here, you can stand on the stone bridge and look directly down and across its span. This area makes the view particularly picturesque, especially at night when the bridge is lit by its 170 LED lights.
The possibility of building a bridge over this part of the inlet was realized after the Guinness family invested heavily in land now known as the British Properties. Completed in 1938, the Lions Gate (or First Narrows) Bridge provided a well-needed connection to the north shore.
One may wonder where the bridge gets its unusual name. Two mountain peaks north of the city, only just visible from the park, are named ‘The Lions’, thus lending the bridge the opportunity to be the ‘Lions Gate’.
Originally, the roadway on the bridge had two lanes but with West Vancouver becoming increasingly populated and with much more traffic on the bridge it was divided into three, the middle being a passing lane. The roadway gained more efficiency when overhead signals were installed to allow this middle lane to be used for one direction or the other, depending on traffic flow and this is how it remains to this day.
The huge costs involved in the construction of the bridge were recouped by the Guinness family with the installation of tollbooths, which remained in use until 1963 when the bridge was sold to the province.
The Guinness family has one more mention in the history of our beautiful bridge. In 1986, with the arrival of Expo, the family had decorative lighting installed on the bridge as a gift to the city. In 2009 the original lighting was replaced with more modern LEDs, which will present a huge saving in power and maintenance costs.
Seeing the bridge at night is a must and is one of those magical photographic opportunities that just cannot be missed.
Also, if you’re feeling brave, you can walk across the bridge and take in superb views across the park and to downtown. Access from the park is an easy walk from Prospect Point down the trail just behind Prospect Point café and gift shop.