Some Bridges in Ontario

August 24, 2018 | Irene

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I have always been fascinated by bridges. They let us cross over impassable obstacles such as wide areas of water, valleys, swamps and rough terrain. Bridges have influenced where we live, how we travel and where we travel. Bridge design can be uncomplicated and building material can often be found locally. Other bridges can be engineering feats and manufactured in one place but assembled in another.

The Cherry Street Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge is one of my favourite bridges in Toronto. Designed by structural engineer Joseph Strauss’s company, the bridge was built by the Dominion Bridge Company in 1930. Strauss was the lead designer of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. The Cherry Street Bridge spans the shipping channel that dissects Cherry Street and works on a counterweight system.

A black and white photo of a steel bridge over a ship channel with a ship in the background.
Cherry St. Bridge over ship channel. Toronto, 1930
Black and white photo of steel lift bridge looking east along ship channel
Cherry St. bridge over ship channel. Toronto, 1952


Colour photo of steel lift bridge raised.
Cherry St. bridge over ship channel open for a ship. Toronto, 2016

Another smaller bascule bridge (counterweight bridge) is located just north of the Strauss Trunnion bridge and it operates over Toronto's Keating Channel. If you've ever ridden your bike along the Martin Goodman trail south on Cherry Street you will know where this bridge is by the unsteady feeling created by the grates you have to ride over.

Black and white photo of a raised steel lift bridge with a boat passing underneath.
Waterfront bridge starts work. Courtesy Toronto Star Photograph Archive, 1968

St. Thomas, Ontario is home to another one of my favourites. The Michigan Central Railroad bridge runs over Kettle Creek and Sunset Drive on the north western edge of the city. Originally built in 1871 - 1872. This amazing bridge is now an elevated park! Phase one is open for the public to enjoy and phase two starts in the autumn of 2018. 

A coloured postcard of a steel trestle bridge with a roadway and trees under it.
M.C.R.R. Bridge, St. Thomas, Ont., Canada 1910

St. Thomas and this rail track are also the site of the very tragic death of Jumbo the Elephant . On September 15, 1885 Jumbo and a smaller elephant, Tom Thumb, were being led back to their cages across the tracks when they were hit by a train.  Before becoming one of the main attractions of P.T. Barnum and Bailey’s “Greatest Show on Earth” in 1882, Jumbo resided at the London Zoological Gardens (United Kingdom). A search for Jumbo in the Elgin County Archives brings up lots of interesting articles about the famous elephant and the commemorative plaque and statue erected in his honour. Via the Digital Archive you can view a children's book about Barnum and Jumbo. Check out the St Thomas Public Library's excellent local history resources for more about Jumbo and the importance of the railroad to the community.

A black and white photo of a sculpture of an elephant being carried on a truck bed on a highway.
Excuse me, there's an elephant in your trunk! Courtesy Toronto Star Photo Archive, 1985
Black and white photo of a round pin with an image of an elephant on it and the words St. Thomas Ontario, Canada
Pin of Jumbo for St. Thomas, Ontario. Courtesy Toronto Star Photograph Archive, 1985
Parry Sound, Ontario is the site of another spectacular trestle bridge. Completed in 1907, this bridge spans the Seguin River valley where the river meets Georgian Bay.

A coloured postcard of a high trestle bridge.
C.P.R. Bridge, Parry Sound, Ontario 1910
By visiting Parry Sound's Museum of Tower Hill website you can see some of the "then and now" images of the bridge and other locations in Parry Sound.
Explore more images of bridges across Ontario from Toronto Public Library's Digital Archive.