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Victoria Bridge (Montreal)

Victoria Bridge (Montreal)

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Victoria Bridge formerly originally known as Victoria Jubilee Bridge, is a bridge over the St. Lawrence River, linking Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, to the south shore city of Saint-Lambert
Saint-Lambert, Quebec
Saint-Lambert is a Canadian city in the province of Quebec located opposite Montreal on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. Saint-Lambert was named for either the early French Canadian hunter Lambert Closse or for Roman Catholic Bishop Lambert of Maastricht...


Opened in 1859, the bridge was the first to span the St. Lawrence River, and as such is an important historic bridge in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. It remains in use to this day, carrying both road and rail
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 traffic, with rails in the middle and roadways (part of Route 112
Quebec route 112
Route 112 is a busy east/west highway on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada. Its eastern terminus is in Frampton at the junction of Route 275, and the western terminus is in Downtown Montreal , after crossing the Victoria Bridge...

) on both sides. It is actively used by the Canadian National Railway
Canadian National Railway
The Canadian National Railway Company is a Canadian Class I railway headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. CN's slogan is "North America's Railroad"....

 on its Halifax to Montreal main line. It is a major contributor to Montreal's role as a continental hub in the North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n rail system. It's designation for the CN is Mile 71.40 subdivision St-Hyacinthe.

Originally named the Great Victoria Bridge in honour of Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

, it was officially rededicated as the Victoria Jubilee Bridge following renovations in 1897 (A.D. MDCCCXCVII). It was returned to the name Victoria Bridge (Pont Victoria) in 1978.

The bridge is approximately 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long, and includes 24 ice-breaking piers.


Prior to the construction of the Victoria Bridge, it was difficult and at times impossible to cross the St. Lawrence River during the long winter
Winter is the coldest season of the year in temperate climates, between autumn and spring. At the winter solstice, the days are shortest and the nights are longest, with days lengthening as the season progresses after the solstice.-Meteorology:...

 season, as freeze up and thawing in the fall
Autumn is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter usually in September or March when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier....

 and spring
Spring (season)
Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and...

 made for treacherous conditions. Crossings took place by boat during the summer
Summer is the warmest of the four temperate seasons, between spring and autumn. At the summer solstice, the days are longest and the nights are shortest, with day-length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice...

, and by walking or riding a sleigh or cart over the frozen river in winter, along routes cleared of snow to facilitate passage.

A site for the bridge was selected by the eminent Canadian engineer Thomas Keefer
Thomas Keefer
Thomas Coltrin Keefer was a Canadian civil engineer.Born into an Empire Loyalist family in Thorold Township, Upper Canada, the son of George Keefer and Jane Emory, née McBride, his father was Chairman of the Welland Shipping Canal Company...

. Erected between 1854 and 1859, Victoria Bridge was officially inaugurated by Albert Edward
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

, the Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

 on August 25, 1860. The first freight train however had already passed over the bridge on December 12, 1859, and the first passenger train had crossed the bridge five days later on December 17. Queen Victoria had been invited to attend the opening of the bridge, but she declined the invitation and instead sent her eldest son, the Prince of Wales and heir to her throne.

When completed, it was the longest bridge in the world. During its peak construction years six steamboats, 72 barges, 3,040 men (of which there were several children between the ages of 8 and 12), 144 horses, and four locomotive engines were required to erect it at a cost of $6,600,000. The construction of the bridge was tied directly with that of the Grand Trunk Railway
Grand Trunk Railway
The Grand Trunk Railway was a railway system which operated in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, as well as the American states of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The railway was operated from headquarters in Montreal, Quebec; however, corporate...

, a system headquartered in Britain which had been formed in 1852 with the support of the colonial government of the United Province of Canada to connect the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 with an ice-free port on the Atlantic Ocean (at Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...


The chief engineer was James Hodges
James Hodges
James Hodges may refer to:* James L. Hodges, , delegate from Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives* Jim Hodges, governor of South Carolina from 1999 until 2003*Jim Hodges...

. The original deck was a long structural metal tube (a tubular bridge
Tubular bridge
A tubular bridge is a bridge built as a rigid box girder section within which the traffic is carried. Famous examples include the original Britannia Bridge over the Menai Strait and the Conwy railway bridge over the River Conwy, designed and tested by William Fairbairn and built by Robert...

) made of prefabricated sections made in England and designed by Robert Stephenson
Robert Stephenson
Robert Stephenson FRS was an English civil engineer. He was the only son of George Stephenson, the famed locomotive builder and railway engineer; many of the achievements popularly credited to his father were actually the joint efforts of father and son.-Early life :He was born on the 16th of...

, son of the builder of the famed Rocket
Stephenson's Rocket
Stephenson's Rocket was an early steam locomotive of 0-2-2 wheel arrangement, built in Newcastle Upon Tyne at the Forth Street Works of Robert Stephenson and Company in 1829.- Design innovations :...

 locomotive, and Alexander McKenzie Ross
Alexander McKenzie Ross
Alexander McKenzie Ross was a British builder and engineer.Together with Robert Stephenson, son of the builder of the Rocket locomotive, he designed the famous Victoria Bridge at Montreal, Quebec, the first bridge to span the St. Lawrence River...

. The contractors were the English partnership of Peto
Samuel Morton Peto
Sir Samuel Morton Peto, 1st Baronet was an English entrepreneur and civil engineer in the 19th century. A partner in Grissell and Peto, he managed construction firms that built many major buildings and monuments in London...

, Brassey
Thomas Brassey
Thomas Brassey was an English civil engineering contractor and manufacturer of building materials who was responsible for building much of the world's railways in the 19th century. By 1847, he had built about one-third of the railways in Britain, and by time of his death in 1870 he had built one...

 and Betts
Edward Betts
Edward Ladd Betts was an English civil engineering contractor who was mainly involved in the building of railways.-Early life:...

. In 1897–1898, the metal tube from 1860 was replaced by metal truss
In architecture and structural engineering, a truss is a structure comprising one or more triangular units constructed with straight members whose ends are connected at joints referred to as nodes. External forces and reactions to those forces are considered to act only at the nodes and result in...

es, common at the time. To minimize traffic disruptions, the trusses were assembled around the tube, which permitted the tube to continue service to train traffic. The tube was then demolished. The stone piers from 1860, slightly altered in 1897, still testify to the excellent original engineering.

The St. Lambert Diversion around the St. Lambert Locks was added in 1958 as part of the St. Lawrence Seaway
Saint Lawrence Seaway
The Saint Lawrence Seaway , , is the common name for a system of locks, canals and channels that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, as far as Lake Superior. Legally it extends from Montreal to Lake Erie, including the Welland Canal...

 project. This secondary bridge over the canal, south of the main bridge, also carries both road and rail, and is used when a ship is passing under the original alignment.

The Black Rock

When the bridge was being built, workmen discovered the human remains of Irish immigrants to Canada, who had fled the famine in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, only to die from typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

 in fever sheds at nearby Windmill Point. At the bridge approach, a large rock was erected, officially called the Irish Commemorative Stone but locally known as The Black Rock.

Its inscription reads:


During the morning rush hour
Rush hour
A rush hour or peak hour is a part of the day during which traffic congestion on roads and crowding on public transport is at its highest. Normally, this happens twice a day—once in the morning and once in the evening, the times during when the most people commute...

, from 6:00 am to 10:00 am, both lanes of the Victoria Bridge are used to travel north*, from the residential suburb of Saint-Lambert to the business districts of Montreal. In the evening, from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm, both lanes are used in the opposite direction. At all other times, there is one lane available in each direction.

Note: Directions are according to traditional Montreal map where downtown (example, rue Sherbrooke) is east-west, with Mont-Royal to the north and the river to the south. "North" on the Victoria bridge is actually south-west.

The only bus route allowed on the bridge is a special bus from the Réseau de transport de Longueuil
Réseau de transport de Longueuil
Réseau de transport de Longueuil is a public transit carrier in the city of Longueuil, Quebec, Canada and nearby communities on the South Shore of Montreal...

, bus number 55. The line is served by Classic Buses due to weight restrictions on the bridge (57 customers if it is a classic one and 38 if it is a low-floor type bus). All other heavy vehicles are forbidden from accessing the bridge and must detour either via the neighboring Champlain or Jacques-Cartier
Jacques Cartier Bridge
The Jacques Cartier Bridge is a steel truss cantilever bridge crossing the Saint Lawrence River from Montreal Island, Montreal, Quebec to the south shore at Longueuil, Quebec, Canada...

 bridges. The low clearance on both approaches and the narrow lanes on the bridge itself make the bridge virtually inaccessible even to light trucks.

External links