Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Bridges of Rideau Canal, part 1

While this is the third so far in the canal series of posts. Last time, I said I wanted to do more Rideau Canal theme posts on night shots, snow, and bridges. I want to add Dow's Lake to that list, and I want to all these photos posted before it closes for the season.

Finally, with the Canal closed Friday and Saturday, I've had some time to catch up and post. And the Canal bridges are such a rich topic that I'm breaking it up into two posts, starting from the Carleton end. The second post is scheduled to go up on Monday at noon.

First is a little-known bridge at the Arboretum, which you'll see when you're skating down toward Hartwell Locks. It's a pretty one, too:

I don't recall noticing this little footbridge in the last few years, and I didn't even notice it when I saw someone taking photos of it from the other side of the canal one day this year. I mean, I've ridden over it on my bike in the summer, but it never entered my realm of consciousness while on the canal. It took someone pointing out the children tobogganing down the hill on the other side:

Next one up is the Bronson bridge. This one's been under construction for the last little while, and the repairs have been ongoing while the canal opened. This has resulted in an elaborate scaffolding structure to support the workers and protect the canal users below. Smile and wave!

The bridge has quite the history, though it's hard to find much of it documented online. Prior to this concrete monstrosity being built, there was an old swing bridge at Bronson, "apparently made of wood" according to this source. I suspect that the rock formation just East of the Bronson bridge is a remnant of that old swing bridge:

Here's a shot of the bridge in mid-January, before the "World's Largest Skating Rink" signs were put up for Winterlude:

When skating through the trusses it had a cathedral-like quality to it (at least during the day; at night it was so dark you had to keep a close watch for cracks to avoid tripping!):

By the first day of Winterlude, the work had been completed, and the upper sections of scaffolding were removed, vastly improving night visibility (the lower parts remain frozen into the ice and ain't going nowhere soon). You can see the little square bumps on the underside of the bridge deck. Note also the sparse evergreens in the background, which are echoed by the steel posts in the foreground:

Viewing the bridge from further back with the scaffolding peeled away reveals just how ugly it is. I wonder if the NCC would even let them build such a thing these days. You can also see the presumed embankment of the former bridge on the right:

Here's one neat feature of the bridge: it's actually two bridges, side by side. Here you can see a sliver of light between the two sections, as well as some protruding patches of concrete from the repairs:

Okay, on to a more civilized bridge. The Bank Street Bridge was originally built in 1912, and combined with the streetcar traversing it, it enabled the suburb now known as Old Ottawa South to flourish. The bridge underwent a $12 million rehabilitation project in 1991-1993 to bring it to its current eye-pleasing state. (Historical info from here)

There's no arguing--this is a beautiful bridge. It's well lit at night and always has a beautiful backdrop.

Back in 2007, the full moon was behind the bridge, and I tried a few shots. This one turned out the best. Now go on--click the image and enjoy the full size version!

Starting last year, the National Portrait Gallery has placed eight portraits on display under the bridge for Winterlude, and this has been a very popular attraction, giving the bridge an additional function.

In this shot from last year, we can see some of last year's portraits under the bridge. In the background is Old Ottawa South, including the wonderful old monatery which is now the home of the Royal College of Surgeons & Physicians at 774 Echo Drive. Behind that is the Sunnyside branch of the Ottawa Public Library, thankfully, with no 12-storey condo tower above it:

This year, prior to the portraits being installed, we could still see the mounts where they would go. This family of four is following the crowds skating under the bridge:

And here are the portraits on one side, installed in late January:

A skater takes in the large portrait of Ottawa lumber baron J.R. Booth at the 4.4 kilometre mark on the canal:

As we pan further back, we see three of the spans of the bridge. Only one is cleared of snow for the skateway. The decorative light standards accent the bridge, giving it vertical dimension:

I was skating under the bridge, and just after passing through, I happened to look to my left and see this wonderful angle out of the corner of my eye. I made it my mission to go back and get a good shot of it at the next opportunity. From this angle, the beautiful arches of the bridge just seem to go on forever:

That's it for now. Tune in Monday at noon for the second half, with the rest of the bridges up the Rideau Canal Skateway!

1 comment:

  1. I look forwards to part 2. The Pretoria Bridge and Corktown Bridge are my two favourites on the Canal.