Young love puts footbridge on lockdown

Teresa Melchior and Hayden Holman with their love-lock on Lake Cowichan’s duck pond bridge. - Diana Hutton
Teresa Melchior and Hayden Holman with their love-lock on Lake Cowichan’s duck pond bridge.
— image credit: Diana Hutton

The loop from Lake Cowichan’s Ohtaki Park, over the footbridge, then the car bridge a back is a pleasant, popular walk.

But if you’re paying attention as you cross the Duck Pond bridge, you’ll notice something special.

Hanging shiny on the chain-link that borders the bridge is one small, metal lock.

Behind this small token is a story that began in ancient China, reappeared a decade ago in Paris and has since spread around the world.

Apparently, thanks to one young couple in love, Lake Cowichan now has its own “love-lock” bridge.

“I was on Facebook and saw a thing about the bridge in Paris and I thought it was really cool,” says 14-year-old, Teresa Melchior.

The bridge in Paris that Melchior refers to is the Pont des Arts Bridge. Located near the Louvre, the bridge railings are lined with thousands of small locks, each one placed there by couples pledging their love.

In Paris, the custom follows that the couple must together hang their lock on the bridge, lock it, then throw the key into the waters of the Seine as a symbolic gesture of a love that will never be broken.

In Lake Cowichan, our young lovers have taken a slightly different and more environmentally friendly tack on the custom.

The lock, inscribed with both their names came with two keys. They had each key engraved; one with her initials, the other with his. Melchior wears his key and her boyfriend, 15-year-old, Hayden Holman wears her key.

“I thought it was such a cool idea and after she told me, we went right out and did it within a week or so,” says Holman. “We can’t go to France, but we have our own bridge right here.”

The phenomenon of the love-lock bridges has spread worldwide, with locks adorning bridges in cities from Paris, to Rome, Dublin, Algiers and Toronto but they are not without their share of controversy.

In several locations, city councils have removed locks, citing them as causing damage to the structures or simply being eyesores.

In Florence, Italy more than 5,500 locks were removed from the Ponte Vecchio Bridge after local officials deemed they were damaging the bridge as well as posing an aesthetic problem. Closer to home, the locks along a stretch of the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet have caused controversy, with some seeing them as a romantic reminder while others feel they detract from the natural setting that surrounds them.

Melchior and Holman had no agenda when they placed their lock on the bridge last November. They simply wanted to show their love for each other. The couple was able to source their lock and keys locally at Butler Locksmithing in Lake Cowichan, where owner, Erin Butler offers engraving as just one of the many services he provides.

Melchior and Holman are looking forward to two celebrations in February. On Feb. 14, they, along with the rest of the world will be celebrating Valentine’s Day while on Feb. 28, they will mark their one year anniversary.

“We’re both planning something really special for Valentine’s Day and our anniversary, but it will be a surprise,” says Holman.

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