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Trail Blazers: The bridge that binds a city

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives
Family of the late Tom Butler recently came across his 1961 photo of the “new” Trail bridge nearing construction, and donated it to the Trail Historical Society. Photo: Trail Historical Society

It’s always interesting to learn about the “who and when” of photos that are unearthed after years of being tucked away in a dresser drawer or old trunk.

Like this one showing the building of the Victoria Street Bridge in early 1961.

But why now? What’s the story behind this picture?

Trail archivist Addison Oberg says this photograph only recently came to the collection courtesy of a local family.

The photo — which is the January feature in the Trail Museum and Archives 2023 calendar — came from the family of the late Tom Butler.

Oberg says the photograph was found by a grandchild when she went through possessions that Tom passed down.

“And we thing it is outstanding,” Oberg said.

Dating back six decades, this image shows the Victoria Street Bridge — the “new” bridge as locals still call it — when construction was nearing completion.

“In the spring of that same year, the bridge opened, only to stand its ground immediately after against one of the most severe floods of Trail’s history,” Oberg explained. “These men chaperoned the construction work with a critical eye, but they need not have worried, the young bridge stood strong and continues to bridge our communities together nearly 62 years later.”

The man behind the photo, Tom Butler, passed away on Sept. 5, 2021 at 84 years of age. He is remembered as a loving husband, dad, brother, twin brother, grandpa and great grandpa.

In his memorial, the family writes that Thomas Albert “Tom” Butler, was born in Victoria, B.C. in May 1937, and lived his entire life in Trail. He married Faith in 1963 and raised three daughters. Tom worked in the Hudson Bay Store for over 25 years and then in Zellers for 10 years before retiring. The family shares he had a great sense of humor and was often heard saying, “The truth will set you free” and, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

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Sheri Regnier

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