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Tragedy at Second Narrows Revisited in Author Lecture


Posted: December 23, 2009

The Fraser Valley Regional Library  is pleased to present two events with author Eric Jamieson, who revisits one of the worst industrial accidents in the history of British Columbia in an illustrated lecture based on his award-winning book, Tragedy at Second Narrows: The Story of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. Jamieson will be speaking about the tragedy at the Murrayville Library, 22071 48th Avenue in Langley, on Thursday, January 14 at 7pm and at the White Rock Library, 15342 Buena Vista, on Monday, January 18 at 7pm.

Jamieson won first prize in BC Historical Federation’s annual writing competition in 2009, winning the coveted Lieutenant-Governor Medal for Historical Writing.

The publication of Jamieson’s book in 2008 marked just over fifty years since the disaster. On June 17, 1958, the new bridge being built across Burrard Inlet collapsed into the flooding tidal waters of Second Narrows, killing eighteen workers. Photos of the two broken spans tilted into the sea went around the world and provided the city with one of its iconic historical images, still familiar to school children half a century later. The shocking thing was that the bridge was not an old, decrepit structure, but a new one just in the midst of being erected with all the support and security modern engineering could provide. That somebody had made a colossal error seemed obvious, but it would take a Royal Commission to discover how and why.

Eric Jamieson returns to the scene of the disaster and reconstructs the tragic event with scrupulous care, introducing the entire cast of politicians, construction bosses, engineers and ironworkers who were involved. He relives those terrifying moments when the structure began to crack and drop like the bottom was falling out of the world. By the end of the presentation, people will have learned about the fascinating world of big-time bridge building and will be left with a clear picture of precisely how the catastrophe took shape and plunged to its inevitable conclusion.

For over thirty years Eric Jamieson made his living as a banker, working around the province in Victoria, Campbell River, Prince George, Vancouver and North Vancouver. He has served a total of eighteen years on the boards of museums, most recently with the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. Tragedy at Second Narrows is his second book; he is also the author of South Pole—900 Miles on Foot. Jamieson now lives in North Vancouver with his wife Joan.

For more information, please phone the White Rock Library at 604-541-2201.