A History Lesson


 

 

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New Westminster back in the late 1700’s

I must admit sometimes I tend to get my head stuck in the clouds.  Lofty ideals and wishful thinking fill this head of mine and at times the translation of what’s in there can come out rather garbled.

I was thinking about the phrase ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”   It seems like a rather strange statement, doesn’t it?  Then again intentions can go south and sideways fast I suppose.

I’ve been refocusing my intentions and shifting them back to a level that is reasonable.  I guess you could say I’m removing the rose coloured glasses for the time being, and you now what?  The cold light of day can be pretty damn beautiful.  I guess it just depends upon your perspective and your state of mind.

This summer has found me ensconced in my orange room tapping out the final edit for the book and taking photos whenever I could.  I’ve at times been a little reflective as I pick up the pieces of this body and soul of mine in the aftermath of the cancer and subsequent treatment.

Lately I’ve been feeling like a lump on legs, but hey, I know the road back to good health will be tough but worth the work.  Last Saturday I hiked up Quarry Rock in Deep Cove over in North Vancouver.  Tough for sure, but man, you should have seen the view!

On Sunday the new civic centre in New Westminster had its grand opening.  It is known as the Anvil Centre and I must say, it is a great looking structure.  It houses a theatre, museum, archives, art gallery and much more.

The City of New Westminster is not a very large in terms of area.  The main road in the downtown core is known as Columbia Street.  It stretches about eight or nine blocks, then it turns into a busy cause way that will take you over to the Sapperton side of New West on one end and over to the Queensborough side on the other.

In any case they closed the downtown core of Columbia Street down on Sunday to celebrate the grand opening.  The one thing I’ve come to love about living here is that this little city celebrates a lot!

I grabbed my camera and headed out into a cloudless late summer afternoon to enjoy the festivities.  I took my time wandering down the street taking in the sights before heading into the building.  I’m sure half of the population of New West was in attendance.

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It’s truly a beautiful space.  On the third floor I got in line for the museum then made my way in.  Several volunteers came up and offered information freely.  I could use my camera, just not the flash.

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There was a strong aboriginal presence in the artifacts that have been preserved, as there should be.  I walked about taking the odd photograph and reading a few things.  Then I came to the midway point in the gallery.  I was quite impressed with what greeted me.  It was a scale model of the Patullo Bridge.

One of the volunteers came up and noted how impressive it was.  I concurred completely.  It is a magnificent structure.  He then told me the story of it.

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The model was built during the great depression by a young boy.  It took him approximately two years to build it.

His model won a competition at the PNE, which is our annual fair in Vancouver.  The boy was later awarded a scholarship and went on to be a life long learner.

And guess what?  That boy is still alive at 90 years of age he was at the Anvil Centre able to witness his creation being restored and being placed permanently on display.

Below is a new story from a local paper.  The article was written a few months before the opening.

What is remarkable about this story is simply the chain of events that occurred after he built this scale model and how it impacted his entire life.

I love stories like this.  And can you imagine winning a pair of shoes for your first model of an antenna?

It was a very different time and this man has witnessed all of it.  Enjoy!

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Jack Lubzinski peers through the superstructure of the scale model of the Pattullo Bridge he built when he was 13 years old. Now 90, he’s supervising the restoration of the model for permanent display at the new Anvil Centre.

— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

There’s not a lot of love for the Pattullo Bridge these days.

But the venerable old crossing over the Fraser River that links New Westminster to Surrey helped put Jack Lubzinski through school, kept him out of the war and launched a lifelong interest in math and physics.

The Pattullo still had that new-bridge sheen when Lubzinski was first captivated by it. The Richmond schoolboy had just completed a scale model reproduction of a huge transmission antenna that had won him a pair of new shoes in a contest when one of his teachers challenged him that the antenna would be as monumental a project as he’d ever be able to achieve.

Lubzinski took the words to heart and spent the next 18 months designing and constructing a scale model of the Pattullo that would stretch more than seven metres long by the time he was done.

Now 90 years old, Lubzinski was a doting observer and sometime supervisor Wednesday as the giant model’s six sections were carefully moved from the basement of the New Westminster Museum and Archives where it had been gathering dust for decades. The grey wooden model will be restored and reassembled by conservator Shabnam Honarbakhsh with the help of funding from the Rotary Club of New Westminster for eventual display in a permanent exhibit at the new Anvil Centre.

Lubzinski smiles at the irony that his model may outlive the actual bridge, which is slated for replacement or rehabilitation by TransLink.

“If there’s a need for a new bridge, then I guess they’ll replace it,” said Lubzinski, matter of factly.

It’s that kind of pragmatic attitude that propelled him to build his model in the first place. The derisive words of his teacher ringing in his ears, it took him a week to whittle and assemble the pieces of B.C. cedar for the first girder. With hundreds more needed, Lubzinski devised a system that got production down to a couple of hours.

Working after school and on weekends in the kitchen and living room of his family’s home, Lubzinski gave painstaking attention to the bridge’s details, right down to the sequence of vertical bars in the outer guardrails.

When the model was finished, he took it apart in sections and transported it to his school, where it became a showpiece attraction in front of the office and a constant reminder to the teacher who dared question his abilities.

In 1940 Lubzinski presented it to the bridge’s namesake, premier Thomas (Duff) Pattullo.

The premier got him scholarship money to continue his studies and when the military called him to service, a judge intervened, ruling Lubzinski’s “place is in technology rather than in the army.”

Lubzinski earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1947 and a master’s in 1950. His thirst for knowledge not sated, he went on to take more than 360 university courses over the next 40 years, including every physics course at BCIT.

To pay the bills Lubzinski and his brother Joseph started Marine Products Company, manufacturing mahogany steering wheels for boats for more than 50 years before it closed in 2005.

He also founded the Lubzinski Center for Innovation in Point Roberts to further the study of quantum physics.

“That bridge changed my life,” said Lubzinski.

 

 

Jack Lubzinski and conservator Shabnam Honarbakhsh will be at the museum June 26-28, 2-3 p.m., to meet the public and talk about its construction and restoration. The New Westminster Museum and Archives is located at 302 Royal Ave.

 

 

 

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