THE BRIDGES OF MUSKOKA - CONNECTING MORE THAN LAND
Article by J. Patrick Boyer
Muskoka’s modern history began in 1858 with a basic beam bridge. Spanning the Severn River, it carried the Muskoka Colonization Road over the district’s southern frontier into land where Indigenous people had been present since long before the pyramids ever arose in Egypt.
Pushing north through untouched wilderness, this winding, hilly, crude Muskoka Road became the main street of Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville and various villages. Other provincial, township and private roads spread out from, or linked up with, this spinal route as homesteaders and vacationers arrived. From the 1920s, what is now Highway 11 shadowed the essential pathway of the Muskoka Road. And through it all, as the Severn proved from the outset, roadbuilding over the Canadian Shield’s rugged landscape and irregular watershed depended on bridges.
From the 1850s to 2020, from Bala to Dorset, from wood and stone to concrete slab and iron, from floating bridges to prefabricated ones, from single-lane to multi-use, from decks of plank or cement bridge to steel grating, from fixed structures to bridges that swing aside or rise up, with signage about weight loads and swimming, Muskoka’s bridges clear chasms and waterways. They expand freedom, save time and serve as identifiable landmarks. As snapshots in time, they also display an era’s engineering skills, construction materials and cultural values.
Including that initial bridge across the Severn River, the basic design of Muskoka’s early wood bridges, using logs and stone-filled cribs, was the simple “beam” bridge – a horizontal stringer or beam supported at each end by a vertical pier or abutment. Suited to short distances, they could also bridge wider spaces by using a series of beams supported on a number of piers.
Across Muskoka, as elsewhere, truss bridges came into vogue with the Industrial Revolution’s possibilities of iron, steel, cables, meshwork and reinforced concrete. A truss, usually some variant of a triangle, is a rigid form that transfers load throughout the bridge by working variations on the beam structure, with enhanced reinforcements. Trusses handle both tension and compression, with the diagonal ones (for instance, supporting the deck) in tension, and the vertical ones (holding the structure in place) in compression.
Beam and truss bridges represent major differences from arch bridges, which evolved from Roman times, and support load by distributing compression across and down the arch. Engineered variations on beam, truss and arch bridges have safely carried most loads in Muskoka since colonization began 160 years ago.
The Bridge on Stephenson Road One East
Roads running east and west from Muskoka’s south-north colonization road helped homesteaders penetrate township interiors, claim free land and start farming. Stephenson, one of Muskoka’s larger original 22 townships with 40,000 acres of land and 3,000 of water including scenic Mary Lake, is a good place to start talking about bridges because it’s named for Robert Stephenson, one of the world’s fabulous bridge engineers. Among Stephenson’s many ingenious structures was his two-mile long tubular “Victoria Bridge” over the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, which for years was the longest in the world.
Heading east from the Muskoka Road, the Stephenson Road (along the concession line with neighbouring Macaulay Township) opened the township’s rewarding interior to settlers. In 1875, a wooden bridge was built across the north Muskoka River so settlers could advance further. The two-span structure, with a mid-river pier and crib abutments on each bank, was dubbed McCamus Bridge for nearby homesteader James McCamus who’d actively promoted its construction. The bridge proved its value for land development. Three years later, road builder W. Chalmers extended the Stephenson Road seven more miles east at $145 a mile.
Further upstream, settlers petitioned in 1876 for a road between Port Sydney and the Stephenson Township line. When government stalled, they built one themselves – a floating bridge south of the second concession road – to link other farms which the river bisected, since surveyors hadn’t adopted natural boundaries when imposing their grid of lots upon the landscape. The bridge’s huge pine logs supported heavy loads. Hinged ramps at each bank allowed the main section to rise or fall with seasonal water levels. In 1896, township council sought funds for a permanent bridge here, but again, with no money from the province, the floating bridge continued its durable service into the 1920s.
As for McCamus Bridge, in 1921, one span fell away from its riverbank crib. Needing to replace the 1875 wood bridge, a surplus one in Bracebridge coincidently became available. The two-span pin-trussed iron bridge had crossed the same river further downstream since 1892. That year, the town’s original wood bridge at the head of Bracebridge falls near Henry Bird’s woollen mill had been replaced by this iron bridge. But after three decades of heavy and increasing use as the only road crossing for growing Bracebridge, the 1892 bridge was slated for replacement. To clear the space, the 1892 structure was detached, lifted aside by crane, and parked on the nearest flat land: lumberman George Tennant’s newly opened lumber yard (today’s Rona site). Bracebridge’s new bridge was then lowered into position and riveted down in February 1922. That spring its temporary wood planking was replaced by cement, and the bridge’s superstructure painted, just in time for a May 23 opening ceremony.
Having a used bridge obstruct his new lumber yard led to Tennant, himself, contracting to move the iron sections of the used 1892 bridge to the Stephenson-Macaulay township line where it was next needed. The two-span bridge, reassembled, thus continued in service over the same river, several miles upstream.
This double service gave the 1892 structure extended life, but in 2016 it was replaced by a new bridge. This single-span steel crossing rests on concrete abutments, fortified against erosion, at each bank. A stone cairn incorporates photographs of the two prior bridges, an informative nod to history.
Deciding to build anew was a joint decision of Huntsville and Bracebridge, since township amalgamations for District Government in 1971 made Stephenson Road the boundary between the two enlarged towns. On May 26, 2017, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne officiated at the bridge with mayors Scott Aitchison and Graydon Smith to celebrate its completion and intergovernmental partnering. The province contributed $1.1 million, funding that is contingent on both environmental and heritage preservation studies.
The 1892 iron bridge did not, according to independent on-site evaluation by Nathan Holth of the Historic Bridges organization, suffer intrinsic failings. It could, he reports, have continued in service by remedying one flawed coupling that caused twisting. Alternatively, it could have been relocated, as a similarly rare truss heritage bridge of this design and vintage recently was in Michigan, for pedestrian use across a walking trail gulley. However, despite its rarity, this 1892 specimen has been destroyed.
“This beautiful heritage truss could have been preserved,” Holth concluded, but instead became “a victim of bad abutments and a lack of local appreciation.”
The only river crossing between Port Sydney and High Falls, the Stephenson Road Bridge crosses the north branch between River Valley Drive and Balsam Chutes Road, uniquely tying together the many-layered saga of Muskoka bridges from earliest to most recent.
Dorset’s well-travelled single lane bridge
Dorset, like several other “Muskoka” border communities, is not entirely in the District. Its Haliburton half begins along the main street’s centre line. The village’s mixed identity also owes something to name changes – from Cedar Narrows (an English translation of the locale’s Ojibwe name), to Colebridge (instituted by colourful pioneer Zachariah Cole in his own honour), then next Dorset (as again revised by nostalgic settlers from southwest England.)
In any case, fur-trading oriented the settlement toward Lake of Bays, along whose shoreline Dorset nestles on a natural channel between aptly named Big Trading Bay and Little Trading Bay. In 1859, the Bobcaygeon Road, another of the province’s colonization roads, reached the Cedar Narrows channel, over which the road builders placed a floating bridge. Zach Cole, one of the road surveyors, saw the area’s potential and returned in 1862 to trade fur with the Chippewas. He started farming, established a brick yard and operated a still to swap liquor for fur. Then Cole changed the place’s name and built a more substantial bridge.
Shortly before the First World War, Cole’s wood bridge was replaced by a Warren pony truss bridge manufactured by Western Bridge and Equipment Company of Chatham, set on a concrete base. During the war, its wood plank deck was upgraded to concrete. After the war, iron railings and a pedestrian sidewalk were added.
A bypass bridge was built by Ontario’s Department of Highways in 1957. In that decade, many Muskoka communities were getting this bypass treatment to alleviate the booming postwar traffic congestion as vacationers with cars turned the main streets of Muskoka towns and villages into summertime parking lots. The 1957 structure became known locally as the new bridge. Another crossing, the Paint Lake Bridge, built along the line of a natural animal crossing, was for some time a humped bridge, like the downtown bridge. But in 1940, instead of resorting to traffic lights, which were developing but still uncommon in Ontario, the municipal government simply flattened its roadbed.
The “downtown” Dorset bridge’s unusual hump-back design remains intact. Providing greater clearance for boats, this alternative to swing or lift bridges shows the advantage of an arched deck. Its metal 6-panel rivet-connected truss is fixed, as are its multi-beam metal stringer approach spans. With modern era increase in automobiles, the bridge’s centre rise still meant drivers gambled when starting across, often creating awkward summer traffic jams. But without changing the artful bridge, cars are now efficiently metered onto its single lane by traffic lights at either end.
The Black Bridge on Matthiasville Road
Draper Township’s 1870s pioneer settlement of Matthiasville, east of the Muskoka Road at a turbulent chute on the Muskoka River’s south branch, boasted a miller, storekeeper, blacksmith, carpenter, cobbler, preacher and land developer – all embodied in one man, William Matthias.
This high achiever built a dike alongside the river above the falls, diverting water into a mill race to power his sawmill and gristmill. He constructed a village church for Protestant use, erected a splendid octagonal home for his family and in 1880 filed subdivision plans for Matthiasville in the Bracebridge Registry Office, the village’s name having been proposed by John Classon Miller, a lumber merchant and Muskoka’s MPP at the time. Matthias also opened a blacksmithy, ran a shoemaker’s shop and operated a general store. By the late 1890s, he employed a dozen men in his sawmill, producing 10,000 feet of lumber daily, while his son Samuel ran the mills as a woodworking business and feed-chopping enterprise.
In 1870, at the start of it all, William Matthias had built a wooden king post truss bridge over the South Muskoka River, making his settlement the all-important crossing point in this section. That original wood crossing was replaced by an iron bridge at the top of the falls around 1922. That year, a second bridge was constructed further downstream, at a southerly bend in the meandering river, supported by concrete abutments on each bank. This 120-foot single-span steel through-truss bridge of the Pratt design was a metal six-panel rivet-connected structure.By 1949, most Muskoka waterfalls had been harnessed but not Matthiasville’s. So, here, the Orillia Water Light & Power
Commission built a million-dollar hydroelectric plant. The huge 882-foot wide dam spanned the valley near the top of Matthias Falls and back-flooded a new lake for two miles upstream, drowning the heritage village. The Commission had first purchased, dismantled and relocated some of the buildings. As for the bridge, Gary Long, acknowledged authority on the Muskoka River, notes the bridge at Matthiasville near the top of the falls remained in operation “until the Orillia power development was built, at which time a new concrete bridge was built lower down the falls, just upstream of the powerhouse.”
Downstream, the 1922 bridge, long a light colour, was in time painted black to blend into its scenic setting and became known to locals as “the black bridge” to differentiate it from Matthiasville Bridge. By 2016, Bracebridge engineers reported it unsafe; bubbling black paint even revealed its lighter undercoat. Replacing the bridge included an environmental impact study, consultation with locals for heritage considerations, and Bracebridge pitching senior levels of government to split its projected $2.5 million cost. The new bowstring truss bridge would replicate the former’s single-span, one-lane design, use part of one 1922 abutment plus deep pile foundation on the north side, and footings keyed into the south bank’s bedrock. The deck’s surface would be concrete, with a dedicated walkway for pedestrians incorporated on the downstream side.
Bracebridge’s prominent Silver Bridge
In 1861, when Muskoka road contractors reached North Falls (Bracebridge) on the Muskoka River’s north branch, the easiest place to bridge was the narrowest – at the top of the falls. Three rock-filled log piers – one atop a midstream rock outcropping, the others on each bank – supported its wood beam flooring and side rails. In 1892, it was replaced by another two-span bridge, manufactured by the Central Iron Bridge Company of Peterborough, for which the town paid $400, the Crown Lands Department, $2,000. In 1893, the town made the contractor rebuild its faulty foundations.
In 1923, Howard Ferguson, an ardent proponent of northern development, became Ontario’s premier and soon the “Ferguson Highway” from Toronto to Cochrane was a major project. In Muskoka, the highway tracked, where it could, the original colonization road. But in Bracebridge, as Lee Ann Smith explains in Muskoka’s Main Street, the authoritative work on the Muskoka Road, it was “far too hilly and crooked to be part of a modern highway.”
Government surveyors found a better route to the foot of Bracebridge’s main street, by crossing the mouth of the Muskoka River’s south branch, curving alongside the north branch to Bracebridge Bay’s Kelvin Grove Park, edging past a rockface, and crossing the falls just downstream from the town’s existing colonization and railway bridges. In 1929, town council approved the plans for this gentler and more scenic entrance which would also bypass two level railway crossings, important with that era’s high frequency of trains.
In 1930, after council expropriated the land needed for the Ferguson Highway, including the fine home of Dr. J.F. Godson at Ontario and Manitoba streets which had survived a devastating town dynamite explosion in 1906, only to now be demolished for the new highway, engineer Kenneth Rose of Ontario’s Northern Development Department hired local labourers to clear the right-of-way for the alternate town entrance. William Lowe took charge of building a bridge over the south branch, while Birmingham & Sons of Kingston won the contract for the $10,000 steel falls bridge, retention walls and roadwork.
Work proceeded for a full year on this Pennsylvania-style through-truss bridge, its trusses joined across their top and its 10 panels rivet-connected. In August 1930, grading through Kelvin Grove Park had been finished, one span of the bridge was in place, and a light railway on the new roadbed carried away blasted rock. Twelve months and another 10,000 rivets later, the superstructure was together, the cement flooring poured, two coats of paint were applied and new sidewalks completed. Electric lights on the bridge and its approaches highlighted Bracebridge Bay’s new centrepiece, a crown atop the cascading falls. These small electric lights (in some eras, many-coloured; other times, white) have spread gentle enchantment into night-time darkness for generations.
Port Carling’s two main streets and its moving bridges
Just when things might have normalized, Muskoka’s bridges had to adjust to the Steam Age revolution. Steamships traversing highways of water and traffic proceeding over land needed bridges engineered to enable them to cross paths.
In 1872, a swing-bridge and locks were put into service at Port Carling to allow movement of water and land traffic where river and road intersected. Apart from being functional, this transportation service provided onlookers with a fascinating drama in the heart of the village. Many times a day throughout navigation season, the bridge and the lock’s gates swung open and closed, moved by the muscle-power of two men, usually the lockmaster and his assistant.
Such heavy moving pieces and their gears require continuous attention and intermittent changes. In 1902 and 1903, the lock was enlarged to accommodate longer steamships. In 1909, the lock gates needed replacement. When new oak ones were installed, the old waterlogged gates were safely hauled to deep water and sunk for convenient disposal, though some believed the public works superintendent who explained it was “to have them on hand in case of accident to the new gates.”
But bridges themselves need replacement. During 1921-1922, in the course of yet another major reconstruction of the locks, a better engineered swing-bridge was mounted on a round concrete base. The large amount of steel needed was delivered to Bala by train, transported to Port Carling over winter ice by teams and sleighs, and then, in an era before cranes, hoisted into place using a derrick pole.
There’s also more than one way to shift a bridge, so a ship can pass; what goes sideways might instead rise up. In 1973-74, the next replacement of Port Carling’s main street swing bridge was a bascule bridge which, from the French for seesaw, means it rotates upward.
Several riverside buildings had to be demolished for the extra space needed. In the bargain, motors replaced muscle power to open and close the lock’s gates, and to raise and lower the bridge. The first craft under this lift bridge, on September 12, 1975, was Lady Muskoka out of Bracebridge.
With water navigation and road transport so important to life in Muskoka, maintaining and upgrading bridges and locks is significant. In 2018, for instance, Muskoka District spent $2,245,900 for yet another set of new gates on Port Carling’s primary and secondary sets of locks – necessary upkeep for a transportation corridor which Anne Duke Judd, describing the Indian River, aptly calls “the real main street of Port Carling.”
Port Sandfield’s evolving and rotating bridge
Anticipating requirements of steamer travel gained high priority as Muskoka’s central lakes became home to colonizing settlers and seasonal residents. In 1871-72, a channel was cut between lakes Rosseau and Joseph, with dredging contracted to Joseph Wallace, to bring both to the same level and save money and inconvenience by avoiding trans-shipment costs. The opportunity for such an expedient undertaking only existed during a brief pre-development phase, before docks and boathouses dotted the higher lake’s shoreline.
Although steamships and other craft now moved readily between both lakes through “The Cut,” it took six years to reconnect the severed land. This might have happened sooner if Port Sandfield, named for Ontario Premier Sandfield Macdonald, was more than what Lake Joseph’s historian William Gray has noted was more geographic expression than a populated village. By 1876, an elevated timber trestle stretched high above the Cut, restoring a land connection while maintaining the new water passage.
This high-level stationary bridge was replaced by a more practical timber swing-bridge in 1887, which in 1924 was in turn replaced by a steel truss swing-bridge, constructed on the same plan and design as the 1887 one. People, grown pleased with what had become familiar, wanted to maintain the look. In 1993, the swing-bridge was again fully reconstructed by the District of Muskoka, this time as a steel girder structure.
Huntsville’s constant yet changing river bridge
“Since the earliest days of Huntsville,” said the town’s heritage committee two decades ago, “the focal point of the community has without doubt been the Main Street Bridge.” There were many reasons. When Prohibition ruled half of Huntsville, the bridge connected dry and wet sides of town. By enabling boat and road traffic to interact, the swing-bridge fostered a lively downtown waterfront. And monopolizing traffic gave the bridge and downtown Huntsville exclusive prominence for years, until bypass bridges for Highway 11 and Centre Street diluted traffic.
Over decades, the bridge itself has changed many times but never its location. From the outset, veteran Ontario land surveyor John Stoughton Davis warned that although the spot between lakes Vernon and Fairy where a shoal created rapids and narrowing pointed to a bridge site, the actual distance between embankments would be some 30 metres, making it more costly to build and harder to maintain. Yet that’s where Huntsville’s bridge was constructed and has remained ever since 1870 – the year Ontario’s Crown Lands Department spent $1,701.44 for the bridge and approaching road work.
That first version of Huntsville’s bridge crossed a considerably lower river than people know today. It needed to support only light traffic of walkers and animal-drawn wagons and sleighs. It was an all-wood beam bridge, with log piers and wooden planking.
Everything went well for five years until new locks downstream near the Brunel Road elevated the water level, submerging river islands and challenging the bridge’s integrity. A specific problem faced steamship Northern, launched at Port Sydney in 1877. Navigating upriver from Mary Lake carrying people and freight for Huntsville and lakes Vernon and Fairy, the bridge blocked her.
The Crown Lands Department solved this by raising the bridge. In regular navigation season, the Northern would pass under the structure. Next it became clear that height wasn’t the only problem. The narrow channel between the piers (only 30 feet) caused the Northern, especially with spring flooding, to sustain damage trying to pass through. By 1879, the department proposed removing one pier and constructing a 70-foot central span, to more than double the width of the navigable passage under the bridge.
Elsewhere, district bridge designs enabled intersecting traffic to cross in sequence, with the land bridge lifted or swung aside long enough for vessels to pass. Huntsville bridgework did not, however, immediately attract this swing-bridge solution. The department didn’t remove the middle pier and build a longer span, as contemplated in 1879, but for awhile relied instead on the Northern’s captain and crew honing their navigation skills.
By 1884, the departmental estimates included funds for a new Huntsville bridge with a 135-foot swinging span, though that year the department spent a bit of its general appropriation to repair the piers and deck planks, and pictures after that date show the familiar wooden beam structure on piers. Yet there’s confusion. A decade and a-half later, the department’s 1901 report confusingly said the bridge had been built in 1884, whereas it seems work had merely been delayed until 1888. That 1901 report then outlined plans for building a new swing-bridge, to “take the place of one erected in 1884 which had become decayed to such an extent as to endanger the safety of the public.” A new swing bridge was constructed at Huntsville in 1901, as a 1902 photograph of it, with the Anglican church atop a hill behind, shows its clean-lined structure.
Just three and a-half decades later, in 1937, another replacement bridge was ordered. It, too, would be a swing bridge of painted steel from Hamilton Bridge Company – a rivet-connected polygonal truss bridge in the Warren Pony style, set on large concrete piers. The Depression-era contract, let by Ontario’s Department of Highways to Atkin & McLachan of St. Catharines, gave needed local employment through the winter of 1938. A photo of this work shows a temporary bridge carrying traffic during construction.
The era’s engineering design for the triangulated structure incorporated gusseted connector plates, exposed rivet heads and grated deck. The bridge’s outer sides had plank-and-plywood surfaced pedestrian sidewalks with a diamond-grill railing. Electricity played its helpful role, lighting each end of the 224-foot bridge, and powering the swing mechanism. The bridge master’s wood-framed cabin, atop the north span, gave a crow’s nest view over the entire scene for the operator to conduct the dance of waterborne and roadway traffic – by swinging the 170-foot mid-section on its centre-bearing pier sideways from the riverbank’s fixed rigid-frame concrete approach spans – so that a majestic steamboat could pass, to the thrill of passengers and satisfaction of onlookers alike.
Ontario’s Minister of Public Works, Collin Campbell, speaking from a decorated truck that served as a mobile stage for the July 1938 official opening, told a large assembly of proud Huntsvilleites their exceptional bridge had cost $150,000. Huntsville Citizens’ Band filled the air with lively sound.
By 1952, the post-war boom had changed Muskoka’s vacation economy. That spring, the bridge’s wood sidewalks were replaced by durable concrete for the increasing summer pedestrians but that fall, the last steamship to ever pass through the bridge completed its final voyage. Automobiles and motorboats brought down the curtain on “the steam era” in Muskoka. By the 1980s, its swing mechanism, unused for decades, was welded shut. As centrepiece of dynamic Huntsville, and one of the few preserved heritage truss swing-bridges in Ontario, in 1983 the provincial Heritage Board officially listed the Swing Bridge for historic protection.
Bala’s many bridges for railways
The Age of Steam had not only lifted Muskoka’s vacation economy for decades, propelling a vast fleet of steamships through District waters and powering trains carrying thousands of visitors, but the passenger and freight cars steaming in recast the local economy and society, providing a connecting link – like a bridge between the far-famed vacationland and those seeking to enjoy it.
By 1906, railway interest in Bala hit fever pitch. The Canadian Northern Ontario Railway’s route entered Muskoka through Washago, reached Port Stanton at Sparrow Lake, then continued via Torrance across Bala Park Island and on up the west side of Lake Joseph. That same year, the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Toronto-Sudbury line was being run across the Severn River into Muskoka and up the west side of Muskoka through Bala then north right alongside competitor CNOR’s tracks. Two thousand men of diverse nationalities, labouring to push these railways through Bala, dynamited tons of rock and built bridges over the south and north falls [shown as they appear today]. Their work included a railway swing bridge, and three train stations, the main ones for each company, plus the CPR’s “Summer Station” at Bala Harbour to handle the flood of eager vacationers.
Extensive blasting caused faulting in the Canadian Shield. It filled a channel into Bala Bay with rock, blocking steamships servicing Bala and damaging vessels and facilities alike. The social chaos for local police caused the OPP to open its very first provincial detachment in Bala. The throngs of detraining Americans led Canada Customs to open an inland office here as well. Bala, hub for the Muskoka Lakes western shores, throbbed with action.
The CNOR officially opened its Bala service in October 1906, the CPR in July 1907. CNOR brochures picturing Muskoka and listing train schedules and fares stimulated a frenzy of tourism. The CNOR’s first train of the 1907 summer season arrived in June, across its Bala bridges, and pulled to a stop. Vacationers were delighted by the pleasing station, painted beige, with green trim and red roof. They happily proceeded to steamship Islander, arriving on schedule to meet them, as Muskokans, rail services, steamers, and resorts all seamlessly bridged their respective components into an integrated vacation economy.Two railway bridges overcome Bracebridge’s rugged typography
The Grand Trunk Railway’s line to Bracebridge, being built north from Gravenhurst in 1885, required two bridges and a major rock cut. The first crossed the south branch of the Muskoka River by Sharpe’s Creek, the second the Muskoka’s north branch over the Bracebridge Falls, and between them a channel had to be cut through a dense barrier of bedrock.
The same South Muskoka River had challenged builders of the Muskoka Colonization Road, whose first bridges over the majestic South Falls gave breathtaking views. Today’s Highway 11 concrete walled bridges and the speed of vehicles preclude many travellers from knowing they are even crossing a river and what might have been developed as Muskoka’s most dramatic natural venue.
The steel superstructure of the railway bridge over the south branch, one of Muskoka’s longest spans, is erected upon large cut-stone footings, as is the second railway bridge over the North Falls in the centre of Bracebridge.
The rock cut itself proved arduous work for unpaid workers who remonstrated on the town’s main street for their wages until Bracebridge Clerk James Boyer read the Riot Act to the mostly Italian-speaking navvies who then departed the scene. These adept labourers opened a fairly level passageway north into town, leading onto the long trestle for the second bridge. Rock from the cut, produced by small dynamite blasts and much hand-labour with picks, heavy lifting and wagons provided fill for the bridge approaches. The 154-foot central main span is a rare example in Ontario of a pin-connected deck truss. The bridge’s two end spans are fixed metal-deck girders.
This article’s sampling of Muskoka bridges opens wider dimensions about the heritage protection of bridges, increased concerns for safety, jurisdictional overlaps, maintaining an aesthetic satisfying to permanent and seasonal Muskokans, reappraising the unappealing industrial-style of contemporary roads and bridges, and how crossings are best incorporated into their attractive settings to enhance Muskoka’s all-important vacation economy