There’s no lion about the pride in this north Calgary neighbourhood, as the City gets set to unveil a rehabbed historic landmark in one of its parks.
In April of 2016, the city began conservation of one of the original Centre Street lions – the northeast lion – that was in the best condition of the remaining three. From there it would be placed in Rotary Park in the community of Crescent Heights, perched on the crest of the hill, overlooking its former resting spot on the Centre Street Bridge.
One of the other original lions is now in front of the Calgary Municipal Building and the others two are in storage.
While a city media release from that time mentioned the northeast lion would be revamped and moved in time for the 2017 century celebration of the original statues’ installation on the Centre Street Bridge, the 13-ton lion only found his spot there earlier this summer.
“Displaying one of the historic Centre Street Bridge lion sculptures in a public setting is a poignant tribute to our city’s past,” Sarah Iley, manager of Arts & Culture at the City of Calgary, said at the time.
“The location in Rotary Park allows citizens an opportunity to appreciate the century-old lion sculpture in a new and accessible space where it can be viewed from the Centre Street Bridge, Memorial Drive and in Rotary Park itself.”
Curiosity hasn’t killed this big cat yet – but area residents sure are thrilled to have this king in their green space, whenever it’s unveiled.
“Lots of people are walking by and looking at it curiously and excitedly, waiting for it to be unveiled,” said Kirsty Blair, president of the Crescent Heights Community Association.
“It’s an amazing view and people are excited to see that part of the park being developed.”
Blair said in the past there have been a few benches overlooking the picturesque downtown panorama, but now they’ll have a “sentinel” that will draw people from the community and from all over the city.
“We hope that it will provide a reflection space for people,” Blair said.
The Crescent Heights Community Association was consulted by the City when the location for the lion was determined, but they still don’t have details on how the area will be landscaped, or what kind of additional programming will be there when it’s unveiled – or the date of the unveiling.
Blair hopes the city displays the history of the area, the bridge and the part it played in Calgary’s growth. She’d also like them to pay tribute to Chinatown and Chinese Canadians and their contributions to the city and the area’s Indigenous people.
“Our river and what that lion does overlook does represent a confluence of many different cultures and hopefully that can be a part of the celebration,” she said.
The City said they expect to be able to unveil the new lion in Rotary Park by September. Work in the area continues. More details are expected by the end of August.