Thanks to Lisa Codd, the curator at the Burnaby Village Museum, here’s a special history treat to celebrate the Pattullo Bridge reopening this week. It’s the souvenir programme and luncheon menu from the 1937 opening of the Pattullo Bridge!
Download the items here:
I’ll run through some of the highlights from both in this post. I’ve also got some great historical background from Lisa to share with you!
The souvenir programme
So, the programme provides some great detail on how and why the Pattullo Bridge was built in 1937.
Fifty years before the Pattullo, the only way of crossing the river was through a ferry called K.D.K. The K.D.K. started service on March 17, 1884, running every two hours during daylight, with a capacity of two teams and wagons.
Of course, traffic was soon too much for the old K.D.K., and a new ferry called the Surrey was built to handle the higher volumes. Still, a farmer living more than 20 miles from New Westminster needed about three days to complete a return trip to market – so the clamour began for a bridge across the Fraser.
So, in 1902, the precursor to the Pattullo was built over the river. This bridge opened in 1904, but as the programme writes, “the demands of modern highway traffic ultimately exceeded the capacity of the structure.” Construction then started on the Pattullo Bridge in 1936, which finally opened in 1937.
Fun facts from the programme about the construction of the bridge:
|Cost||Materials used||Fun quotes|
|$4 million, including main contract, cement, purchase of right of way, realignment, and resurfacing of highways||
365,000 tons of earth for the north and south approaches and fills
130,000 tons of sand and rock
2,000,000 board-feet of timber
7,000 tons of steel
|“Illuminated by the most modern type of lighting; provides for all future requirements of traffic loading”|
Did you notice the autographs on many of the pages? Lisa tells me that autograph books were a popular item with young people dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Collecting autographs from celebrities in the 1930s was undoubtedly a continuation of that trend.
The luncheon menu
Now onto the luncheon menu, which is a lovely folded piece. Have a look through and you’ll notice that as you unfold the menu, the illustrations show different stages of the bridge construction. It goes from no bridge… to parts of the bridge… to the completed span in the centre.
The luncheon was held at Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster, which opened in 1930. Highlights from the meal include clear beef broth sherry and cold ox tongue – yum!
You’ll also see on the centre page of the menu that the orchestra at the luncheon was Mart Kenney’s Western Gentlemen. (It actually says Mark Kenney, but that’s definitely a typo). Mart Kenney’s orchestra was the top dance band in Canada in the 1930s and 1940s — you can find out a bit more about him at the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. As well, Mart’s wife Norma was also very famous in her own right as a singer.
Where did this programme and menu come from?
The programme and menu are both are part of a collection donated to the Museum by the family of William E. Grieve, a long-time Burnaby resident.
Grieve moved to Burnaby in the 1920s and owned a car dealership on Hastings Street. He was a Liberal candidate in the provincial election in 1937, and while he was unsuccessful in that election, he did receive a personal letter from T.D. Pattullo, thanking him for his effort in running in the election (Pattullo, of course, was the Liberal Premier of BC from 1933 to 1941, and is the namesake for the bridge).
Mr. Grieve no doubt received an invitation to the opening because of his support for Pattullo. He was eventually successful in running for Burnaby School Board in 1942, and served on the school board for 15 years.
And a bit about the Burnaby Village Museum: if you don’t know about it already, the Burnaby Village Museum is an open-air museum that recreates life in 1920s Burnaby. It’s currently closed, but will open again for spring break on March 16-22, and for the summer season on May 2. Check the museum’s website for admission costs and more. And thank you again to Lisa for sharing such wonderful artifacts with all of us!