The Burlington Canal Bridges

David O'Reilly

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scotto
07-17-2013, 11:33 PM
I have been asked about the many bridges that have spanned the Burlington Canal since it was first cut through the Beach Strip back in 1826.



Some early history from author Bill Manson
____________________________________
With the completion of the Burlington Canal in 1826, a wooden bridge was constructed to allow the passage of land traffic across the new waterway. However, this bridge sustained heavy storm-damage and was torn down. It was replaced by a swing bridge in 1830. Unfortunately this bridge too came down when struck by a schooner. For decades after the accident, a wooden scow, pulled by heavy chains, was used to transport people, animals, and goods across the canal.


Many descriptions of the early canal suggest that there was a moveable bridge, but it didn't last long and those who wanted passage to other side of the canal had to pay a fee to use the wooden scow and at times it was impractical due to the weather. In the winter many just walked across the frozen canal, a line was strung across for some safety, keep in mind that the canal was not wide as it is today.

Edit; Another good description of the early wooden bridge can be viewed in this thread;
http://hamiltonbeachcommunity.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2229&page=3 (The First Ferry Across Burlington Canal; The Swing Bridge And The Old Ship Inn)


The Swing Bridges

With the spread of the railway through out the Hamilton area, a more cost effective route was look at, the trip through the Beach Strip saved considerable time and money, so it was the railway that brought the first heavy moveable structure to the Beach.

From Charles Cooper's Hamilton's Other Railway
____________________________________________
At the canal, the new through-truss swingbridge was swung (by hand) for the first time on January 10, 1877. The 375 foot long riveted, wrought-iron superstructure was constructed for the H&NW by the Hamilton Tool Works at a reported cost of $23,000. The Hamilton Times proudly noted that "the construction of this bridge in Canada has circulated over $12,000 amongst the working population of the country", and added reassuringly that "the bridge will be eventually worked by an engine of 20 horse power which has been manufactured by Mr. Northey of this city". Five days later, the first engine tested the bridge by crossing and re-crossing it at different speeds, and making stops at random. Evidently all went well, and regular service across the bridge began the following month.
A couple pictures of the first railway Swing Bridge.

http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz256/scotto2010/Bridge/Five Bridges/ATBrown_zps6f37db45.jpg
A of O, A T Brown Coll C302 3 0 21 5, courtesy Charles Cooper

http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/...es/HNWswingbridgeBurlingtonAO_zps34be22b5.jpg
A of O , A T Brown Coll C302 3 0 21 1, courtesy Charles Cooper.



__________________________________________

The original wrought-iron steam-powered railway swingbridge was replaced in 1902-03 by a new bridge with steel truss spans and a raised control cab. The new bridge, to be swung by electric power, was built on the site of the old one. "During the construction of the new steel bridge over the canal at Burlington, passenger and freight traffic between Hamilton and Burlington, via the Beach, has been suspended, the service being operated via Waterdown and Burlington Junction" (The Railway and Shipping World, June 1902). The new bridge was opened for traffic in the summer of 1903. Until 1930, only one of the railway swingbridge's two spans actually crossed the Canal, the other being a balancing span.

In 1896 the Dominion government began work on a highway swingbridge to connect the new road along the west side of the beach strip. This bridge had wooden sidewalks and a narrow lane for vehicles.When the Hamilton-Burlington radial electric railway (the HRER) reached the Canal in 1896, it negotiated the right to use it in exchange for providing the motor and the power to operate it. This swingbridge had a south-side pedestal, and it was asymmetrical because of the need to clear the lighthouse immediately to the east.



Here is some information on the order in Council for the 1896 road swing bridge.

Item:
Swing bridge over Burlington Channel near Hamilton - M. P.W. [Minister of Public Works] 1895/12/16 recds. [recommends] setting aside tender Canadian Bridge and Iron Co. and entrance into comm. [communication] with Dominion Bridge Company of Montreal
Order-in-Council Number:
1895-3682
Date Introduced:
1895/12/16
Considered Date:
1895/12/21
Approved Date:
1895/12/23
Reference:
RG2, Privy Council Office, Series A-1-a, For Order in Council see volume 693, Reel C-3640, Access Code 90
Register Number:
Series A-1-d, Volume 2787
1084.

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/...0.01-e.php?interval=20&q1=&q2=ov*&q3=&sk=1081
 

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David O'Reilly

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Dec 15, 2012
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scotto
07-17-2013, 11:33 PM

“From Charles Cooper's Hamilton's Other Railway
____________________________________________
At the canal, the new through-truss swingbridge was swung (by hand) for the first time on January 10, 1877. The 375 foot long riveted, wrought-iron superstructure was constructed for the H&NW by the Hamilton Tool Works at a reported cost of $23,000. The Hamilton Times proudly noted that "the construction of this bridge in Canada has circulated over $12,000 amongst the working population of the country", and added reassuringly that "the bridge will be eventually worked by an engine of 20 horse power which has been manufactured by Mr. Northey of this city". Five days later, the first engine tested the bridge by crossing and re-crossing it at different speeds, and making stops at random. Evidently all went well, and regular service across the bridge began the following month.
A couple pictures of the first railway Swing Bridge.

http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz256/scotto2010/Bridge/Five Bridges/ATBrown_zps6f37db45.jpg
A of O, A T Brown Coll C302 3 0 21 5, courtesy Charles Cooper

http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/...es/HNWswingbridgeBurlingtonAO_zps34be22b5.jpg
A of O , A T Brown Coll C302 3 0 21 1, courtesy Charles Cooper.



__________________________________________

The original wrought-iron steam-powered railway swingbridge was replaced in 1902-03 by a new bridge with steel truss spans and a raised control cab. The new bridge, to be swung by electric power, was built on the site of the old one. "During the construction of the new steel bridge over the canal at Burlington, passenger and freight traffic between Hamilton and Burlington, via the Beach, has been suspended, the service being operated via Waterdown and Burlington Junction" (The Railway and Shipping World, June 1902). The new bridge was opened for traffic in the summer of 1903. Until 1930, only one of the railway swingbridge's two spans actually crossed the Canal, the other being a balancing span.

In 1896 the Dominion government began work on a highway swingbridge to connect the new road along the west side of the beach strip. This bridge had wooden sidewalks and a narrow lane for vehicles.When the Hamilton-Burlington radial electric railway (the HRER) reached the Canal in 1896, it negotiated the right to use it in exchange for providing the motor and the power to operate it. This swingbridge had a south-side pedestal, and it was asymmetrical because of the need to clear the lighthouse immediately to the east.


This road/radial swingbridge was replaced in 1921-22 by a single leaf bascule bridge, also based on the south (Hamilton) side. During its construction, the radial cars were diverted over the GTR track, and only pedestrian traffic was permitted across (which played havoc with the daily milk and bread deliveries of the day).
In 1930-31, the Canal underwent its final widening to 300 ft, at which time the railway swingbridge was relocated diagonally 52 ft to the southeast, with its pedestal on an artificial island between the channels. At the same time, another bascule leaf was built on the north side of the channel to complement the existing road bascule bridge. (The radial rails remained on the southerly bascule leaf until 1946, when their removal caused a balance problem that required the removal of three and a half tons of ballast concrete.)
On April 28, 1952, the north leaf of the road bascule bridge was damaged beyond repair when the laker W.E. Fitzgerald collided with it. It was never rebuilt, and a temporary bridge was installed to meet the south bascule. In 1962 the railway and the road were accommodated by means of a combination liftbridge, with the track now back on the alignment of the original railway swingbridge. At that time, the 1902-03 railway swingbridge, the 1952 temporary north side road bridge, the 1922 bascule leaf bridge, and the centre island in the channel were demolished.”

This page indicates that the 1896 road swing bridge was taken down in December 1920, but the bascule bridge wasn’t finished until July 1921.
http://www.cnr-in-ontario.com/Database/DisplayArticle.php?publicationID=6&record=388

the road swing bridge was located just to the west of where the bascule bridge was built, and swung to the east when opened. So presumably it was for this reason that it was torn down before the bascule could be built. But why wasn’t the bascule bridge built on the west side of the swing bridge?

And this page states that the Hamilton Radial Railroad had wanted to runs it cars over the GTR’s bridge during the construction of the bascule bridge, but the terms could not be agreed on.

http://www.cnr-in-ontario.com/Datab...n Beach&publicationID=6&railwayID=22&record=1
 

scotto

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This page indicates that the 1896 road swing bridge was taken down in December 1920, but the bascule bridge wasn’t finished until July 1921.
http://www.cnr-in-ontario.com/Database/DisplayArticle.php?publicationID=6&record=388

the road swing bridge was located just to the west of where the bascule bridge was built, and swung to the east when opened. So presumably it was for this reason that it was torn down before the bascule could be built. But why wasn’t the bascule bridge built on the west side of the swing bridge?

And this page states that the Hamilton Radial Railroad had wanted to runs it cars over the GTR’s bridge during the construction of the bascule bridge, but the terms could not be agreed on.

http://www.cnr-in-ontario.com/Datab...n Beach&publicationID=6&railwayID=22&record=1
I assume there wasn't enough land to go any further west, also they could use the same road approaches.
 

scotto

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The Radial Railway didn't get permission to use G.T.R. tracks, from David's last link.

Work was begun on the new bridge early in Dec. 1920, the use of the old bridge being discontinued on Dec. 6. The old bridge has been taken down, and the piers have been removed to the extent necessary to permit construction of the new ones, excavation for which is in progress. This work, as stated above, is being done by the Canadian Engineering & Contracting Co., of Hamilton, which also removed the old bridge, and is to be finished by the first week of July. The superstructure contract has not yet been awarded. The Hamilton Radial Railway cars now run to the bridge from both directions, the passengers walking across the adjoining G.T.R. bridge, on a sidewalk specially built for that purpose.

http://www.cnr-in-ontario.com/Datab...n Beach&publicationID=6&railwayID=22&record=2
 

David O'Reilly

Registered User
Dec 15, 2012
456
0
16
scotto
07-17-2013, 11:33 PM

“From Charles Cooper's Hamilton's Other Railway
____________________________________________
At the canal, the new through-truss swingbridge was swung (by hand) for the first time on January 10, 1877. The 375 foot long riveted, wrought-iron superstructure was constructed for the H&NW by the Hamilton Tool Works at a reported cost of $23,000. The Hamilton Times proudly noted that "the construction of this bridge in Canada has circulated over $12,000 amongst the working population of the country", and added reassuringly that "the bridge will be eventually worked by an engine of 20 horse power which has been manufactured by Mr. Northey of this city". Five days later, the first engine tested the bridge by crossing and re-crossing it at different speeds, and making stops at random. Evidently all went well, and regular service across the bridge began the following month.
A couple pictures of the first railway Swing Bridge.

http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz256/scotto2010/Bridge/Five Bridges/ATBrown_zps6f37db45.jpg
A of O, A T Brown Coll C302 3 0 21 5, courtesy Charles Cooper

http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/...es/HNWswingbridgeBurlingtonAO_zps34be22b5.jpg
A of O , A T Brown Coll C302 3 0 21 1, courtesy Charles Cooper.



__________________________________________

The original wrought-iron steam-powered railway swingbridge was replaced in 1902-03 by a new bridge with steel truss spans and a raised control cab. The new bridge, to be swung by electric power, was built on the site of the old one. "During the construction of the new steel bridge over the canal at Burlington, passenger and freight traffic between Hamilton and Burlington, via the Beach, has been suspended, the service being operated via Waterdown and Burlington Junction" (The Railway and Shipping World, June 1902). The new bridge was opened for traffic in the summer of 1903. Until 1930, only one of the railway swingbridge's two spans actually crossed the Canal, the other being a balancing span.

In 1896 the Dominion government began work on a highway swingbridge to connect the new road along the west side of the beach strip. This bridge had wooden sidewalks and a narrow lane for vehicles.When the Hamilton-Burlington radial electric railway (the HRER) reached the Canal in 1896, it negotiated the right to use it in exchange for providing the motor and the power to operate it. This swingbridge had a south-side pedestal, and it was asymmetrical because of the need to clear the lighthouse immediately to the east.


This road/radial swingbridge was replaced in 1921-22 by a single leaf bascule bridge, also based on the south (Hamilton) side. During its construction, the radial cars were diverted over the GTR track, and only pedestrian traffic was permitted across (which played havoc with the daily milk and bread deliveries of the day).
In 1930-31, the Canal underwent its final widening to 300 ft, at which time the railway swingbridge was relocated diagonally 52 ft to the southeast, with its pedestal on an artificial island between the channels. At the same time, another bascule leaf was built on the north side of the channel to complement the existing road bascule bridge. (The radial rails remained on the southerly bascule leaf until 1946, when their removal caused a balance problem that required the removal of three and a half tons of ballast concrete.)”

Scott, before the canal was widened in 1930, were the piers on both sides still made of wood? And if ‘yes’, after the widening,) were they replaced by concrete ones?
 

scotto

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Scott, before the canal was widened in 1930, were the piers on both sides still made of wood? And if ‘yes’, after the widening,) were they replaced by concrete ones?
I don't have that info on hand, Ray Mifflin writes in his book that on July 18, 1856 a steamer (Ranger) set the piers on fire and basically burnt down everything and it was a full 18 months before the piers and pier-end light could be rebuilt, I assume out of wood again. And there is a 1909 picture showing a newly built concrete pier end lighthouse and the pier itself looks new and constructed of concrete as well.
 

David O'Reilly

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A few pictures from the Toronto Public Library;
This picture would of been taken in about 1958, the Skyway is finished awaiting opening.


This picture would of been taken in about 1960, the new Skyway bridge is in full operation and the lift bridge is under construction.
The base for the two tower for the lift Bridge are being formed on both sides of the open swing bridge.
 

scotto

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This picture would be circa 1957, the construction of the new Skyway has not started and the damaged bascule bridge has been removed and replaced by a temporary wooden bridge.
Top left is the Lakeside Hotel and Beach baseball diamond to the right.
Thanks to TPL

Roughly around the same time period looking in the opposite direction.
TPL


This picture is listed as being 1948 at the Toronto Public Library, but that is not possible, the canal was widen and another bascule bridge added to the north side in 1930-31. Also notice the cars in line are from the early 30's.
 
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scotto

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Several months ago I found this Ontario Historical Society page (OHS) with a referenced to an article on the Burlington Canal. So I e-mailed the OHS to see if the article could be posted on the forum.

https://www.ontariohistoricalsociety.ca/index.php/recent-oh#Spring2018



I e-mailed the Hamilton Public Library LH&A to see if it has the publication. But haven’t heard back yet.
Sounds like a very interesting book, I will also look for it next time I am at the library.
 
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