The Provencher Bridge

I walk across or by the Provencher Bridge almost everyday and I think it is a really stunning structure. Built in 2003 it is designed to be a bridge both for cars and pedestrians. On a walk a few weeks ago my friend Esther told me to look  way up at the top of the bridge where all the side spar cables join together. It made me a bit dizzy but the pristine white  bridge cables created an intriguing and lovely pattern against the blue sky. 

The bridge spans the Red River and is actually the third bridge built in the same place. This bridge was designed by Etienne Gaboury and Colin Stewart. I think they were very creative and as I walk across the bridge I often wonder how they dreamed up the plans for such an unusual bridge. The pedestrian part of the bridge is called Esplanade Riel. It is named after the Metis leader Louis Riel who some people say was the founder of Manitoba. 

There is some simple and lovely aboriginal art on the bridge which you can see if you are walking along it going toward St. Boniface Hospital. The bridge is just down the river from The Forks where the Red and Assiniboine rivers intersect. Canada’s First Nations people came to The Forks for over 6000 years to meet and trade with one another, so it makes sense there would be aboriginal art on the bridge. Symbols for flying birds, the sun, flowers, fish, feathers, hills and water fowl are etched into the stone as well as some ribbons or ropes that are reminiscent of the bridge’s cables.  On this section of the girders the art isn’t quite the same. A sun stylized in a unique way is the focal piece again, but this time there are butterflies and moths instead of birds and some crawling creatures that look like grasshoppers and beetles. I tried finding out who created these art pieces and what they are meant to symbolize, but didn’t have any luck. Once again there are the winding pieces that look like roads or paths or perhaps the back of a snake.

There is a Salisbury House Restaurant on the bridge. Salisbury House is a burger and chips kind of chain owned in part by the famous Winnipeg singer Burton Cummings of Guess Who fame. I remember when the bridge was first built they hoped to have some kind of fancy restaurant on it with classy dining, but no one wanted to rent the restaurant building except Salisbury House. All supplies have to be brought into the restaurant on foot and adequate plumbing was a problem at least initially.Walking across the bridge, looking at the trees turning to their fall colors and viewing the stately historic St. Boniface Basilica facade through the bridge cables I am struck by what I beautiful city I am living in, one that can rival the many famous cities of the world I have visited in the last six years.  What next? I am looking forward to viewing the river, the trees, the buildings of St. Boniface and the Provencher Bridge in winter to see what kind of picture that will make.  Today it was over 30 degrees Celsius here in Winnipeg so hopefully I will have a little time to enjoy the autumn beauty of the bridge before the first snowfall. 

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Filed under Art, History, Nature, Winnipeg

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