“The idea to build a bridge across First Narrows was investigated as early as the 1890s, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that plans began to take shape. In December 1933, approval for the building of the bridge was reached through a city wide vote. Construction began on March 31, 1937 by clearing ten acres of Stanley Park to create the right-of-way. Upon completion in November 1938, the Lions Gate Bridge was recognized as the longest suspension bridge in the British Empire and one of the biggest construction projects undertaken in Canada during the 1930s. Despite its great size, the open steelwork of the twin towers gives the structure a weightless quality that blends well with its picturesque setting.” Vancouver Heritage Foundation
Walking on the Ambleside Pier, there is a sense of history. With the elegant vision of Lions Gate Bridge in the background, I imagine a time before cars made their way across the iconic structure of open steelwork of the twin towers.
Before the Lions Gate Bridge, the only way to travel back and forth between Vancouver and West Vancouver was by ferry. Ambleside was the centre of bustling activity, the thriving hub of West Vancouver. In the early 1900’s, Ambleside Wharf, which stood at the foot of 14th street, was known as Ferry Square. From 1913, Ambleside Wharf was the place where residents and visitors disembarked from or boarded the ferries. The ferry would take passengers, sometimes numbering up to 100,000 per month, to Columbia Street dock in Gastown, Vancouver
Lions Gate Bridge, opened November 14, 1938, ushered the advent of bus travel, which became the preferred mode of transportation. On Feb. 8, 1947, West Vancouver Ferry No. 6 made its last run, ending 38 years of ferry service.
Standing on Ambleside Pier looking towards Lions Gate Bridge, I acknowledge that time brings change, which is as it should be. What was before, transitions to something new, and then transforms again into something else. What was once a busy ferry wharf in the early 1900’s, remains just as busy in a new century. Ambleside Beach continues to be the commercial heart and creative hub of West Vancouver – “a waterfront neighbourhood that celebrates community and culture in all its forms.”
Thank you for joining me on Ambleside Pier.