THE ADVOCATE 141
VOL. 78 PART 1 JANUARY 2020
By Ludmila B. Herbst, Q.C.*
John Bruce’s courthouse lions
THE COURTHOUSE LIONS1
Flanking what used to be the front steps of Vancouver’s courthouse, the
building now occupied by the Vancouver Art Gallery, are two lions said in
the site’s national historic designation to “symbolize British justice”.2 The
sculptures face the expanse of paved area between the former courthouse
building and West Georgia Street and retain their dignity despite both the
shifting of judicial functions to a different building and the closure of the
building’s West Georgia entrance, at the same time as its judicial occupants
departed, in 1979.
The lions were purpose-built for the neoclassical building, which was
designed by Francis Rattenbury. Rattenbury was the architect who also
designed the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, the Empress Hotel and the
still-surviving historic courthouses in Nanaimo and Nelson.
* Ludmila B. Herbst, Q.C., is the assistant editor of the Advocate and thanks Emma Coffin, a summer articled student at Farris
LLP, for her review of material at the City of Vancouver Archives. No safaris were undertaken in the writing of this article.