My wife says one of the most romantic things I have ever given her was a small wooden box.
No, not a coffin. It was something I found in a craft store that I stained and varnished and covered with decoupaged pictures of us together.
Inside it I placed a padlock engraved with our names.
We would occasionally walk across the pedestrian bridge over the Assiniboine in River Heights and notice the slowly growing accumulation of engraved padlocks attached to the grating on the side of the bridge.
This was a fad popular amongst young lovers that began in Paris on the Pont des Arts which became festooned with thousands of engraved padlocks from people who would then toss the keys into the Seine River below as a token of their undying love for one another.
A fad that slowly spread its way around the world, including to the old CN Rail footbridge in River Heights.
But now the locks are disappearing. It seems that municipal bureaucracy is stifling the guerilla artistic expression of young love.
It became a real problem in Paris as the sheer number of locks added enough weight to compromise the structural integrity of the bridge. So the local council cut them all off many times, only to have them return in even greater numbers.
But now it seems enough is enough, both in Paris and Winnipeg. Parisian workmen removed an astonishing 45 tonnes of padlocks this past summer. We had nowhere near that number of locks on our bridge and they were removed for another reason.
The pedestrian portion of the bridge is quite narrow and also sees cyclists using it. Having ridden over the bridge myself you have to stop if you encounter another rider coming towards you.
It seems one cyclist got a bit too close to the side of the bridge and got themselves a nasty cut from one of the protruding padlocks.
A quick complaint to the City and they reacted by removing all the locks.
But it’s not the end of romance in River Heights, just like Paris the locks are slowly creeping back. Young love cannot be denied. Or so Garth and Fran say.
In the past people would carve their initials into tree trunks. But of course that’s unacceptable these days. So we take a leaf from Italian author Federico Moccia who popularized the craze with his 2006 novel, I Want You.
But the real question is who was that cyclist who complained to the City and got an immediate reaction? When I find that out I’ve got a list of other things I’d like the City to do.