There’s a new fad amongst young lovers in Winnipeg. Actually, it’s borrowed from romantic couples in Paris where it is reputed to have originated.
On the Pont des Arts over the Seine River, the bridge which connect’s Paris’ Left Bank with The Louvre, young couples attach padlocks to the bridge’s fence railing and then toss the keys into the river below as symbols of their undying love.
I noticed a similar thing here on the footbridge part of the old CN rail bridge off Wellington Crescent that connects Sir John Franklin Park to Omand’s Creek Park. As you walk across, you’ll see several dozen padlocks attached to the steel mesh on the side of the bridge, the keys no doubt tossed into the murky depths of the Assiniboine River, some 50 feet below.
Most of the padlocks have been engraved with the names or initials of the lovers. Anna and Jack as well as AC & WC have all been here, pledging their eternal devotion to each other.
Although it is claimed that some of the padlocks in Paris have been there for over 30 years the craze was popularized by the release of Federico Moccia’s novel I Want You in 2006.
Since then, lovers’ padlocks have been appearing on bridges all over the world from Venice and Prague to Ottawa and now Winnipeg.
Back in Paris, the city council took a stand against these cadenas d’amour and in 2010 city workmen took boltcutters and removed over 2,000 of them from the bridge. It was somewhat of a futile action, though, as they returned in even greater numbers.
In Venice, the city council threatened offenders with a 3,000 Euro fine, yet no one has been charged to date.
It’s nice to know that municipal bureaucracy will never triumph over either young love or guerilla art. And here in Winnipeg it seems that no action has been taken yet.
On our bridge, though, young couples will have to throw hard and long as the river there is very shallow, as anyone who has canoed down there can tell you.
And, of course, if they do it in the winter they may have to wait a few months for the ice to melt before the keys actually hit the water.
Still, it’s good to think that maybe in 20 or 30 years time Anna and Jack may be celebrating a significant anniversary and might come back to Winnipeg to stroll across the bridge to see if their lock is still there.
Trevor Smith is a community correspondent for River Heights. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org