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Bow River Bridge


Other Names:
Banff Avenue Bridge

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Bow River Bridge is a steel-reinforced stone and concrete girder bridge extending from the base of Banff Avenue to the Bow River’s south side. Built in 1921, the bridge is consistent with the architectural style of the City Beautiful movement. The Bow River Bridge is instrumental in facilitating passage between Banff’s commercial main street and the Cave and Basin hot springs.

The bridge is recognizable for its ornamental features: the arches within its piers and along its fascia, the brackets supporting its pedestrian sidewalks, its symmetrical style, the lamp posts spaced regularly along its stone-adorned parapet, and especially the six concrete-cast reliefs of a First Nations man along the parapet at each juncture of the bridge spans.

The bridge is located centrally just south of Banff’s downtown core, where it functions as a landmark and facilitates unparalleled views in all four directions. In particular, it fulfills and extends the planned intent of Banff Avenue as an extension from the base of Cascade Mountain.

Heritage Value
The Bow River Bridge is valuable and worthy of conservation due to its architectural style, representative of the City Beautiful movement, and due to its status as a central landmark within the Banff town site.

The bridge reflects the City Beautiful movement’s approach in its grand, open span across the river, decorated at frequent and evenly-spaced intervals by parapet piers topped with ornamental lamp posts. The bridge is aesthetically interesting not only from its deck, but also from the riverside paths that pass below. From them, one can see the four arches within each pier, as well as the pebble-faced fascia panel arches, and the concrete brackets. Observers from both below and afar (e.g. from the pedestrian bridge to the east) can see the First Nations reliefs that decorate the central parapet piers.

Due to its unique elements and its surrounding mountain and river landscape, the bridge is immediately recognizable, and it acts as a landmark that continues to define the riverscape in the town of Banff.

Its location is representative of the link between CP Railway line to the north and the CP Hotel and Cave and Basin Hot Springs to the south. The Bow River Bridge is also representative of changing approaches to transportation as the town entered the age of the automobile in the 1910s.

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of Bow River Bridge include:

- low profile and horizontal inclination;
- symmetrical arrangement of the bridge deck and sidewalks;
- mountain views;
- cantilevered sidewalks supported with fascia arches;
- three water based piers with four rounded arch inlays;
- two land based piers;
- six rounded footings at water based piers;
- two retaining walls to the south (Cave Avenue) and north (Banff Avenue);
- fourteen globe lamps;
- six First Nations concrete cast headstones; and
- all decorative masonry materials, inlay and detailing.


Street Address: Banff Avenue
Community: Banff
Boundaries: That portion of Banff Avenue crossing the Bow River
Contributing Resources:

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.172853 -115.571246 Digital Maps NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2016/11/30

Historical Information

Built: 1921 to 1921
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Communications and Transportation
Historic Function(s): Transport - Land : Bridge, Tunnel or Other Engineering Work
Current Function(s): Transport - Land : Bridge, Tunnel or Other Engineering Work
Architect: K.W. Cameron
Dr. E Brydon-Jack
G.H. Cagnat
Builder: Fegles Construction (Fort William)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0108
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link: https://banff.ca/DocumentCenter/View/4237/372_Municipal_Historic_Bow_River_Bridge?bidId=
Data Source: Town of Banff, Planning and Development Department, Town Hall, 110 Bear Street, PO Box 1260, Banff, AB T1L 1A1. (Municipal Historic Resource Designation File: HD11; Town of Banff Registry of Recognized Heritage Resources File: Bow River Bridge - Banff Avenue)
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