Here’s an anniversary that is not oft talked about, even though its existence forever changed dynamics in the City of Trail.
The Victoria Street Bridge turns 60 this weekend.
Not one to let an important piece of city history pass unnoticed, Sarah Benson-Lord sent this image of the bridge’s grand opening to the Times for a timely feature in this week’s Trail Blazers feature.
“Opening on October 2, 1961, the bridge formed part of B.C.’s new southern highway system,” began Benson-Lord, Trail Museum and Archives manager. “A wonder to watch develop, construction of the bridge produced tremendous imagery for the archives.”
The four-span, four-lane Trail bridge measures 950 feet and cost $2.5 million to construct.
For the grand opening, B.C. highway minister, P.A. Gaglardi, cut the ribbon. He was surrounded by Mayor L.A. Read, MLA Don Brothers and many other local dignitaries.
“Soon to follow was the re-routing of the highway away from downtown Trail and the old bridge,” Benson-Lord said. “And this would change the city forever.”
Who was P.A. Gaglardi?
Philip Arthur Gaglardi (P.A. Gaglardi) sometimes known as Flying Phil, was a British Columbian politician. He is best known for his service as B.C. Minister of Highways from 1952 to 1972. Gaglardi hailed from Mission, B.C., as one of 11 children born to poverty-stricken Italian immigrants.
Gaglardi and his wife Jennie (a Pentecostal minister) had two sons: Bob Gaglardi, founder of Northland Properties — whose holdings include the 60-hotel Sandman Hotel chain and 100-plus restaurants under various labels — and whose family is the current owner of the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars. Their second son Bill, is a Calgary businessman.
Flying Phil passed away on Sept. 23, 1995 at the age of 82.