By Terry Hughes
The location is Dain City looking north towards Bridges 18 and 17 as a canaller belonging to Colonial Steamship Lines passes by.
The bridges are painted black so this would date the photo before the coming of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959.
Unless you were to let your eyes casually pass over the photo, one would not notice that Bridge 17, a short distance away, is down and its neighbouring structure is in a fully raised position! How could this situation be possible?
The answer is the fact that bridges that carried railways across the canal did not follow the rules laid down by the government about operating procedures for their structures.
The railways owned several of the bridges and were manned by their employees. Bridge 17 was one of them. The procedure for passing vessels was that the bridge must be fully open as illustrated with Bridge 18, the Forks Rd. span.
Often the operators of Bridge 17 never raised the span to its full height but instead, lifted it just enough to clear the masts of a passing vessels. Little time was required to lower it.
Unlike all of the bridges across the canal that were painted silver for better visibility for the coming of the Seaway, Bridge 17 was never painted this colour but remained black. Today, the remains of the Forks Road bridge without its towers is in poor repair and the structure will have to be replaced by the city in the near future.
(Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading.)