There’s a new fad amongst young lovers in Winnipeg. Actually it’s a trend borrowed from romantic couples in Paris where a certain tradition is reputed to have originated.
On the Pont des Arts, the bridge connecting the Left Bank with the Louvre, young couples would attach padlocks onto the chain link fence then toss the key into the Seine river below as a symbol 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 Omands Creek Park. As you walk across by the old railway tracks you’ll see several dozen padlocks attached to steel mesh on the side of the bridge, the keys no doubt tossed into the murky depths of the Assiniboine fifty 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 thirty 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, as the engraved padlocks are called, 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 soon returned in even greater numbers.
And 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, 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 twenty or thirty years time Anna and Jack may be celebrating a significant anniversary and might come back to Winnipeg and take a stroll across the bridge to see if their lock is still there.
Unless of course they’ve divorced, in which case they may come back clutching those boltcutters !