Crossing the Past and Present: Explore These 9 Famous Bridges in Toronto

Narayani BhardwajJanhavi Ramesh Kowligi
19 Min Read
Image by Pixabay at pexels

Toronto’s bridges are like giant connectors, linking neighborhoods, cities, and countries. These impressive structures are not just for getting from one place to another; they are feats of engineering and design.

Take, for example, the Humber Bay Arch Bridge. It’s not just a path for people and bikes; it’s a work of art that curves over the Humber River, showing off its strength with two massive steel pipes.

These bridges are more than just pathways; they’re a part of Toronto’s history and progress. As you travel across the Blue Water Bridge or walk the Garrison Crossing, remember that each structure has a unique tale to tell, weaving the past and present of this vibrant city.

1. Toronto’s Iconic Bridges and Their Architectural Marvels

1.1. Humber Bay Arch Bridge in Toronto

The Humber Bay Arch Bridge is a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The bridge was completed during the mid-1990s.

It was part of the Martin Goodman Trail. However, the bridge is 139 meters in length. About 100 meters of the bridge’s span is over the Humber River’s mouth to conserve the waterway’s integrity.

Humber Bay arch bridge is an iconic Toronto structure

The bridge is built with two steel pipes. These pipes are of high strength. A single pipe has a diameter of 47 inches.

Further, it is bent into two equal arcs 70 ft. above the surface. Montgomery and Sisam were the architects who designed this bridge in 1994. They were the bridge engineers of Toronto and the Delcan Corporation.

Sonterian Construction took charge of building this bridge. However, it has received many local design, architectural, and engineering awards.

This bridge is primarily located at the Humber River’s mouth. It begins the trail known as “Toronto Carrying Place.” It is one of the oldest aboriginal trading routes. Toronto Transportation Services manages the bridge.

1.2. Whirlpool Bridge Canada

bridges in toronto
Image by wikipedia.org

The Whirlpool Bridge is a common name for the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge. However, it is also known as the Lower Steel Arch Bridge. The bridge crosses the international border between Canada and the US. It connects the districts of Niagara Falls in Ontario and Niagara Falls in New York.

In January 1959, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission grabbed the bridge. A little behind the Whirlpool Bridge, there is the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge. This bridge carries train and foot traffic. It was started in 1855. However, this was the most recognizable bridge for being the first railway suspension in the world.

Over the years, the population and need for transportation have increased. Also, the trains’ weight increased during the 1890s in North America. So, the companies took this as an opportunity to replace the bridge. To maintain the suspension bridge, Leffert L. Buck was hired. He was a civil engineer. He was chosen to design the new replacement of the bridge.

Arch bridges were in trend at that time. So, he designed the new bridge with the arch design. These were more economically friendly bridges. He partially replaced the bridge on April 9, 1896.

Partial replacement did not cause disturbance for the pedestrians and other traffic. By August 27, 1897, the remaining parts of the Suspension Bridge had been replaced. Then, it was renamed the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge.

1.3. Queen Street Viaduct Bridge in Toronto

The Queen Street Viaduct is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada bridge. It is commonly known as with the name Queen Street Bridge.

At this location, it is known to be the third bridge over the Don River. During the early 1800s, the Scadding family operated bridges. At that time, it was one of the wooden bridges built in 1803.

bridges in toronto
Image by acotoronto.ca

However, the past bridges were nearer to the river level. During the transition work of bridges, the bridges were moved in 1910. It was a Warren Truss Bridge.

Due to safety concerns, the Board of Railway Commissioners sanctioned the building of the third bridge. However, this third bridge was Queen Street Bridge. It was approved in 1909.

Meanwhile, the bridge was thought to remove the high railway crossing traffic. This is because it was used by the Canadian Northern Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, and Grand Trunk Railway.

However, it was also concerning that street cars were becoming heavier. So, the steel truss bridge that is now standing was completed in 1911.

The Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company in Darlington, England, made this bridge. This bridge was a higher bridge than the past bridges. So, roads were also upgraded higher to match the bridge level.

To acquire space for a new bridge, the last bridge was shifted to take the road traffic. However, the bridge was started for carrying street cars on October 8, 1911.

For other road traffic, it was created five days later. Moreover, the bridge is among the few Truss Bridges bridges in Toronto.

1.4. Blue Water Bridge in Toronto

The Blue Water Bridge is located across the St. Clair River in the city. It is an international twin-span bridge. However, the bridge is 6,178 ft in length.

So, it connects Port Huron in Michigan, United States, to Sarnia in Ontario, Canada. This bridge also links Highway 402 in Ontario to Interstate 94 and Interstate 69 in Michigan.

bridges in toronto
Image by cbc.ca

The original span of the bridge is a Cantilever Truss Bridge. It is 6,178 ft in length. Meanwhile, the primary span of the bridge is 871 ft in length.

The Federal Bridge Corporation is a government crown corporation of Canada. Further, the Michigan Department of Transportation in the US is also known as MDOT.

Canada and the US corporations jointly maintain and own this bridge. For crossing this bridge, you will be charged with a toll. This tool helps in the maintenance of the bridge.

The bridges link Chicago and the mid-west US with Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the northeast US. It is among the four shortest travel routes between the United States Northeast and Midwest.

These are the 2nd busiest commercial route on the Canada-US border. Also, it is the fourth busiest international crossing in Ontario. Regarding busy crossing, it is after the Ambassador Bridge at Detroit-Windsor.

Moreover, these are Canada’s third busiest bridge after Ambassador Bridge and Champlain Bridge, Montreal. The westbound of the bridge was started on October 10, 1938. Meanwhile, the eastbound bridge was created on July 22, 1997.

1.5. Garrison Crossing

The Garrison Crossing is a bridge formerly known as Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge. It is located in the central downtown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

However, this bridge connects Stanley Park to the north and Garrison Common to the south. This crossing has two bridges made of stainless steel over the rail corridors. The bridge is 52 m in length.

Garrison Crossing pedestrian bridge officially opens

The bridge is designed for cyclists and pedestrians and connects three significant parks. These parks are South Stanley Park, Ordnance Park, and Fort York neighborhood Park. The project for building this bridge was first announced in the early 2000s. However, due to cost issues, it got canceled.

Later, the council validated the procured Design-Build project in 2014. CreateTO directed this project. It’s a city in the real estate of Toronto and the development corporation.

The budget set for this was 19.7 Million dollars. Dufferin Construction was authorized to take charge of building the bridge. It was also included to make it as a stainless-steel bridge.

Also, it was asked to make it a first of its kind in Canada. Further, the bridge was completed and started in 2019. The two bridges are built with only one stainless-steel arch rib. It is triangular. Initially, the construction of the bridge was started in August 2016.

In 2019, the bridge received the excellence award from the Ontario Steel Design Awards in the Bridge category. In 2020, it won the award for design excellence by the Association of Canadian Consulting Engineers.

1.6. Rainbow International Bridge

The Rainbow International Bridge is commonly known as the Rainbow Bridge. Niagara Falls Rainbow International Bridge is also the official name of the bridge.

It is an arch bridge located across the gorge of the Niagara River. This bridge links Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, to the west and Niagara Falls, New York, US, to the east.

Crossing Canada US Border through Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls by Car

The Rainbow Bridge was constructed closer to the site of the Honeymoon Bridge. On January 27, 1938, the bridge collapsed because of an ice jam in the river.

Both the commissions of Canada and America had been thinking of replacing the bridge. But, after the collapse, it became an urgent project.

A design was chosen for the bridge used for the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge again. The Su Min architect, Richard Lee, designed the layout. However, William Lyon Somerville was a Canadian architect who designed the Canadian Plaza and the Rainbow Tower.

During the visit of Queen Elizabeth and King George VI to Niagara Falls, the bridge was dedicated to celebrating the occasion of the visit.

The visit was a part of the 1939 Royal Tour of Canada. The construction of the bridge was started in May 1940. However, the bridge was officially formed on November 1, 1941.

The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission manages the bridge. Further, the bridge is 440 m in length. Its height is 62 m. Also, the longest span of the bridge is 290 m. The construction cost of the bridge was about 4 million dollars. The toll is applied to pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobiles.

1.7. Prince Edward Viaduct

The Prince Edward Viaduct is a viaduct system usually known as the Bloor Viaduct. It is a truss arch bridge system in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. However, it connects Danforth Avenue and Bloor Street East to the west.

This bridge system includes a few phases: the Rosedale Valley phase, the Sherbourne phase, and the Don Valley phase. It is a famous bridge in Toronto.

Walking On Toronto

Firstly, the Rosedale phase is a small structure that carries Bloor Street over the Rosedale Ravine. Secondly, the Sherbourne phase is a dike that extends from Sherbourne Street to Rosedale Ravine. Lastly, the Don Valley phase is the most unique system that crosses the Don River Valley from west to east.

The pathway of the road has five lanes. These are two from westbound and three lanes from eastbound. It has a bicycle lane in every direction. The subway of the bridge links Sherbourne and Castle Frank stations from the west and Broadview station to the east.

Further, Edmund W. Burke designed the architecture of the bridge. It is a three-hinged arch bridge made of concrete steel. The entire length of the bridge is 494 meters. It is forty meters above the Don Valley. The bridge was mainly designed to improve mass transportation.

The deck on the upper side accommodates streetcars. Meanwhile, the Rosedale Valley and Don Valley phases have a lower deck for rail transport.

At that time, it was controversial due to its high costs. 1966, the Toronto Transit Commission’s Bloor – Danforth Subway was started. R. C. Harris, the commissioner of public works and the bridge designer, found a way to lower the expenses.

The lower deck they made was able to save millions of dollars.

1.8. Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway

The Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway is usually called Burlington Skyway. Initially, it was known as Burlington Bay Skyway. This skyway is a pair of freeway bridges that are on a high level. It crosses the Burlington Bay Canal.

However, it is situated in Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Also, the Queen Elizabeth Way highway’s part connects Fort Erie with Toronto.

Burlington Bay James N Allan Skyway (QEW)

The first bridge with a steel structure was completed in 1958. However, it was started on October 30, 1958. It crosses the narrow bar that separates the Port of Hamilton and Hamilton Harbour from Lake Ontario.

It facilitates the ship traffic of the Great Lakes to flow downwards. Meanwhile, the four lanes of Golden Horseshoe can hover above for road traffic.

It is designed like this so no one way can disturb the other. John Turner Bell designed this bridge. It was the arch bridge built in 1958.

The second twin bridge was built in 1985. It was designed to accommodate more traffic volume. The traffic volume was increased during the 1980s. This bridge has a concrete structure. So, it was officially started on October 11, 1985. The traffic was shifted to this new bridge temporarily. So they can renovate the steel-structured arch bridge of 1958.

Finally, this entire work was finished on August 22, 1988. Later, it had eight traffic lanes that crossed the harbor. Afterwards, it was officially named Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway in 1988. It was the final naming after the three names since 1958.

1.9. West Montrose Covered Bridge

The West Montrose Covered Bridge is also popularly known as Kissing Bridge. It is a covered bridge within the Waterloo region in West Montrose, Ontario.

However, it is among the oldest bridges in Canada. John Bear built this bridge between 1880 and 1881. It was mostly made of white pine and oak. He previously made barns.

It spans over the Grand River. So, pedestrians can still use this bridge to cross the Grand River. Also, vehicles and buggy traffic that weigh less than three tons can use this bridge. The Regional Municipality of Waterloo has owned this bridge since 1998.

bridges in toronto
Image by historicplaces.ca

In 1880, John L. Wideman from St. Jacobs, Ontario, called for the tender of the bridge. The tender to make a covered bridge would help cross the Grand River.

The cost for the building would be jointly shared by Woolwich’s township and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The contract was authorized to John and Benjamin, also known as Bear Bros.

John Bear also completed the five pages of specs and drawings that showed the material to be used. November 15, 1881, was the date the bridge was officially started. However, the bridge could not be painted until May 1881. However, the bridge was opened and inaugurated in 1881.

From 1885 to 1950, the bridge was illuminated overnight from the inside with coal oil lamps. Later, the electric bulbs replaced it. Further, in August 1960, the bridge was designated a provincial historic site.

Bottom line

There are many bridges in Toronto. These are local as well as international bridges.

International bridges link one part of a country to another part of a different country. For instance, a bridge in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, connects a town in the US. Then, it will be known as the international bridge.

Moreover, most of these bridges have a great history from the 18th and 19th centuries. Also, the design of the bridges is based on historical and modern architecture.

Last Updated on by Namrata

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