Fun Facts: The Signal Station Atop Lions Gate Bridge

Crop of CVA 265-70 – Looking NE at the Lions Gate Bridge Signal Station located midspan above the bridge. 1938. David Loughnan
  • The signal station that serviced Burrard Inlet before the bridge was built was the Prospect Point station (1893-1939); the old signal station was located atop the cliff above the Prospect Point lighthouse.
  • Lions Gate bridge station (formally known as “First Narrows Signal Station”) was in operation, 1939-1974. Beginning in ’74, Burrard Inlet was served from Park Royal in West Vancouver. It was then referred to as “Vancouver Vessel Management Centre” or “Vancouver Centre”, for short. The Park Royal station had equipment piled “ceiling-high” (Vancouver Sun, 9 Jan 1974).
CVA 260-974 – View from the Lions Gate Bridge of Prospect Point signal station, above the lighthouse and boathouse. 1938 James Crookall.
  • The purpose of the signal station, was to monitor shipping traffic in and out of the harbour. Signallers were also to keep watch on weather (e.g., wind speed, visibility due to fog) and advise vessels of same. Other tasks (not included in the signaller’s job description, I assume), included assisting rescues of people attempting suicide from the bridge (this was in the period before anti-suicide netting had been installed).
  • Signallers at the LGB station included: W. J. Mooney, Wilfred “Tug” Wilson, and Danny Parkins.
  • The 9 o’clock (p.m.) gun located at Brockton Point (Stanley Park) was, for a while, fired by the signaller on duty at LGB station pressing a button; the gun would then fire by remote control.
  • The Lions Gate Bridge was a provincial responsibility. But the signal station was a federal one (it was run by the National Harbours Commission until the LGB station was closed. The Park Royal station was run by the federal Ministry of Transport).
  • There was a flush toilet in the LGB signal perch:

The bridge biffy was pointed out by Dr. J. E. Balmer, president of the B.C. Yachting Association and vice-president of the Canadian Yachting Association. “Men in the signal station receive orders when and when not to flush,” said Balmer. He told the Sun he had never visited the signal station, but he believes that flushing directions are determined by wind strength and frequency of shipping traffic under the bridge.

Vancouver Sun, 28 September 1968
  • The chief signaller had a residence provided by the National Harbours Commission at the south end of the bridge, and just west of it). It was built in 1938 (at which time the former Prospect Point signal station — west of the new residence — was destroyed). I don’t know when the residence was demolished, but I imagine it happened in the mid-70s.

The residence for the LGB Chief Signaler. It was located about 200 feet west of the south end of the bridge. Vancouver Sun. 14 Oct 1938.
  • How did signallers get to work? This isn’t a fact; more of an educated guess. I figure they walked across the bridge deck, using the ped-way the way any other pedestrian would cross the bridge. When they were beneath the signal station, I’m guessing that they climbed the ladder visible in the first image in this post.
Lion’s Gate Bridge, 1938. Fund-Raiser for Theatre Under the Stars, 1994.

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3 Responses to Fun Facts: The Signal Station Atop Lions Gate Bridge

  1. Marla says:

    I think I heard somewhere that Lions Gate Bridge has another name. Something to do with Grace McCarthy and the twinkly lights. It’s escaped me at the moment. Thank you for this post. One saving grace is being able to get into the car and just drive (living in the West End means we almost always take this bridge!). Stay safe!

  2. dkingram2015 says:

    My Father Allan Ingram sold and installed the remote camera that replaced the signal station. I remember the huge camera at our home shop being tested.

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