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BDI bridge celebrates 100th anniversary

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Britney Bell (left) and Kaeley Gould enjoy ice cream at Bridge Drive-In on Saturday.

JASON HALSTEAD / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Britney Bell (left) and Kaeley Gould enjoy ice cream at Bridge Drive-In on Saturday. Photo Store

The iconic BDI bridge turned 100 this year, a centenary that brought out two city councilors, a couple of area MLAs, history buffs and old timers to mark the occasion with an official historic plaque Saturday.

"This is a historic event," St. Vital Councillor Brian Mayes said as the unveiling got underway at the centre of the bridge shortly after 1 p.m.

In 1914, the bridge, officially named Elm Park Bridge opened to traffic, including early automobiles. These days, it’s best known as the Ice Cream Bridge or the BDI Bridge, and the bulk of its traffic is busy licking and slurping ice cream delicacies from the Bridge Drive-In.

"The bridge is a public space iconic to the city," added Jenny Gerbasi, city councillor for Fort Rouge East Fort Garry. "Who in Winnipeg hasn’t come to the BDI," she quipped.

The councilors shared the official duties yesterday because the bridge links their two wards. NDP Education Minister James Allum whose riding Fort Garry Riverview includes the bridge on the Fort Rouge side presented the province. Christine Melnick, the former cabinet minister removed from the NDP caucus in February was on hand for the Riel riding.

The day belonged to memories, with old timers recalling the days of early auto traffic dating back to the 1930s.

Joseph Snowden drove the first car across the bridge. He owned one of the first two houses built on Kingston Row, at 371 Kingston. Saturday, Kaia Sigurdson, 5, bicycled across to mark the centenary. Her family now lives in the home Snowden once owned.

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