Golden Ears Bridge – A Nod to Nature and Aboriginal Heritage

Signs along Golden Ears Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians tell the story of the bridge's name, natural and aboriginal heritage in this part of Metro Vancouver.  Golden Ears Bridge approach from the Langley, BC side. Photo by J. Chong. Fence design mimics Katzie First Nations fish traps and curves embedded into fence, are fish shapes symbolizing 1 million salmon passing through the Fraser River.

Signs along the Golden Ears Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians that tell the story of the bridge's name, natural and aboriginal heritage of the Fraser River region in Metro Vancouver. Golden Ears Bridge approach from the Langley, BC side. Photo by J. Chong. Fence design mimics Katzie First Nations fish traps and curves embedded into fence, are fish shapes symbolizing 1 million salmon passing through Fraser River every year.

 One of the newest bridges in Metro Vancouver is the Golden Ears Bridge in the suburbs which crosses the Fraser River with highway approaches to the bridge from Langley, Surrey, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. This 1 km. 4 lane road bridge with bike-pedestrian protected lanes on each side, was completed in June 2009. It is the first toll bridge in Metro Vancouver.

The name of the bridge was derived from a local naming contest organized by TransLink. Its iconic name aligns with several, nearby natural, eye-catching phenomena –the Golden Ears Provincial Park with its beautiful mountain range nearby as well as the golden eagle,a local species which is featured in information poster plaques along the bike-pedestrian bridge path. 

 The bridge design features 2 golden metal eagle sculptures at the top of the bridge, that were fashioned by a German company –after the initial sculptural design by a U.S. firm was abandoned for structural weakness. There are golden light posts that flank the entrances of the bridge.  The bridge fence design mimics the local aboriginal fish traps (with metal fish shapes), used by the Katzie First Nations, who are part of the Sto:Lo people that lived, fished and farmed in this area for centuries.

It is this area where over 1 million salmon annually swim through the Fraser River from the Pacific. It is also an area where there have been the near-extinct sturgeon fish or as the aboriginals call it, “ancient” fish, since sturgeon can mature up to 80-100 years old.

 
On Golden Ears Bridge towards Maple Ridge, BC. Photo by HJEH Becker

On Golden Ears Bridge towards Maple Ridge, BC. Photo by HJEH Becker

Near the Golden Ears Bridge is the shorter Pitt River Bridge which was completed shortly before the Golden Ears Bridge. Other nearby local sites are Fort Langley, site of 1827 Hudson’s Bay Trading Post in Langley, Derby Reach Park and the Pitt Meadows Dykes area (beautiful purple carpet of vegetation in the fall). http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/bc/langley/natcul.aspx

It is over 100 km. round cycling trip between  downtown Vancouver and the bridge which I have done several times. A nearly full day, if you make 1-2 stops to eat and relax. This area also can be reached by using the Central Valley Bikeway from Vancouver with connecting routes either via the Barnett Highway (which has a wide road   shoulder) into Port Moody and onward. Check out the crossing area to the bridge here. Some cycling and walking map routes in the Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge  which include the dykes park area. This web page also lists links to hiking trails in the Golden Ears Provincial Park and more parks.

You can also cut down the distance by cycling from the Sperling Translink Sky Train station near the end of the Central Valley Greenway path or from Braid Station.

Going home from bridge, into Pitt Meadows, BC by the dykes. Photo by J. Chong

Going home from bridge, into Pitt Meadows, BC by the dykes. Photo by J. Chong

 During $800 million bridge construction, the project was planned to permit archaeological teams to comb through a part of First Nations land that the bridge would be passing through. The team led by a Simon Fraser University archaeology professor, discovered an incredible archaeological find of thousands of pottery shards, metal implements and most of all, preserved 3,600 year old wapato or potatoes.

The bog conditions preserved the potato evidence which in ancient times, was used as a form of food currency since carbohydrates were valuable compared to the local abundance of fresh salmon. This is evidence that these aboriginals were creating one of the first known gardens or mini farms in North America. It debunks the theory that earliest First Nations people were hunters and gathers.  More about the archaeological discovery in the local paper, Maple Ridge Times.

It may be the suburbs. But I promise, you will see the distant mountain ranges  often during the bike ride with stopovers in various parks along the way. Some more detailed bike route map instructions on dealing with some of the road ramps and interchanges close to the bridge: http://www.vacc.bc.ca/pdf/GoldenEarsBridgeCyclingFacilities.jpg

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3 Responses to Golden Ears Bridge – A Nod to Nature and Aboriginal Heritage

  1. Pingback: How to Celebrate Bike-Pedestrian Bridges: Let Me Count Thy Ways | Cycle Write Blog

  2. Emily

    The project was not run by SFU, but by a Katzie archaeological company. Check your facts.

  3. Curtis Dean

    Wow. Literally everything you wrote about in this article is inaccurate. Everything you wrote about archaeology is dead wrong. Everything you wrote about aboriginal culture is dead wrong. Your speculative journalism is garbage, you should never be allowed to write articles for any type of publication until you learn the difference between fact and fiction. VERY SLOPPY

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