The Provencher Bridge

I walk or drive across the Provencher Bridge almost everyday. What a stunning structure! Built in 2003 it is designed for both cars and pedestrians. I like to look way up at the top of the bridge where the side spar wires join together. I get deliciously dizzy, seeing all those pristine white cables create a perfectly spaced musical staff pattern in the blue sky. 

The bridge spans the Red River and is the third one built in the same place. The current bridge was designed by Etienne Gaboury and Colin Stewart. I admire their creativity and often wonder how they dreamed up the plans for such an unusual structure. The pedestrian part of the bridge is called Esplanade Riel. It is named after the Metis leader Louis Riel, the founder of the province of Manitoba. 

There is aboriginal art on the bridge. It is just a short distance 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. 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. Once again there are the winding pieces that resemble roads or paths or perhaps the back of a snake. An engraving explains that the artistic images on the bridge describe the creation of the world. The plaque tells the story in detail beginning with the words……….In the beginning all was stark and barren. Then on the dawn of the first day the earth came alive and offered its magnificent beauty in an endless cycle of seasons. 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. When I walk across the bridge and view the sky, the tree line and the historic St. Boniface Basilica facade through the taut 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.  

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Categories: Bridges, St. Boniface | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “The Provencher Bridge

  1. Charles

    Thank you for the posting these lovely photos and for your wonderful blog. It really brings back fond memories.

    I lived in Winnipeg during the construction of both the Esplanade Riel and the Provencher Bridge. At the time, there was grumbling from detractors and nasty invective directed at then-Mayor Glen Murray. (There probably still is, to this day, by folks who hold on to grudges like ticks to skin.)

    There’s no denying that the bridges add an element of bold design to the landscape and serve as an example of innovative engineering and architecture. For myself, the bridges area also a monument to the power of political will to overcome the knee-jerk negativity of reactionary naysayers who have no capacity to imagine a cityscape with style and character.

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