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Lieutenant-Governor Medal Winner to Visit Nelson


May 14, 2009

Touchstones Nelson is pleased to present an event with Lieutenant-Governor Medal-winning author Eric Jamieson, who revisits one of the worst industrial accidents in the history of British Columbia in an illustrated talk based on his award-winning new book, Tragedy at Second Narrows: The Story of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. Jamieson will be speaking about the tragedy at Touchstones Nelson’s Mini-Theatre, 502 Vernon Street, on Saturday, May 16 at 1:00pm.

The publication of Jamieson’s book last fall 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.

Jamieson won first prize in BC Historical Federation’s annual writing competition earlier this year, winning the coveted Lieutenant-Governor Medal for Historical Writing. He will be presented with his medal at the BC Historical Federation’s annual conference in Nelson on Thursday, May 14.

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.

This event is made possible with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Touchstones Nelson and the BC Historical Federation. A book signing in the Touchstones Nelson gift shop will also take place from 2:30-3:30pm. For more information, please phone Touchstones Nelson at 250-352-9813.