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• No, 443

NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 1994

PUBLIE TOUS LES DEUX MOIS PAR L'ASSOCIATION CANADIENNE D'HISTOIRE FERROVIAIRE

TABLE OF CONTENTS THE VICTORIA BRIDGE; INTRODUCTION..................................................... ..... FRED F. ANGUS ............... " .......... 207 CROSSING THE RiVER .................................................. ....................................... . ROBERT R. BROWN ..... , .............. 208 ROBERT STEPHENSON'S REPORT TO THE GRANO TRUNK DIRECTORS... . ROBERT STEPHENSON .............. 222 BUILDING THE CENTRE SPAN ................................ .... ........... ............................. . A GLANCE AT THE VICTORIA BRIDGE ................. .... .. ................ ................... .... . THE REPORT OF THE INSPECTOR OF RAILWAyS .... ................ ............. ........ .. MA. HODGES, BUILDER OF THE VICTORIA BRIDGE ....................................... . THE BRIDGE OPENS FOR TRAFFiC ................................................................... . THE PRINCE OF WALES OFFICIAllY OPENS THE BRIDGE ........................... . "HAWGS CAN, AND PEOPLE CAN TOO" ................... ................... ..................... .

FRONT COVER. A w'ew of ViClOria Bridge, looking 'awards the .fOllfh shore . aiHmt 1878. Defail$of wlI~truction of both stonework and imn wbcs are plainly visible; even Ihe small windows ill the sides of the tubes Photo hy Henderson . National Archh'cs af Canada Phota Nn . PAZI071. OPPosrrE PAGE: A lithograph by S. RI/ssell, primed ill u md(m in 1854. showing VICtoria Bridge as it would appear when completcd. The 1';1'11' is /oojing towards MOil/real .. FOr your membership in lhe CRHA, which includes a subscription to Canadian Rail. write to: CR HA, 120 RueSt-Pierre. St. Constant, Que. J5A 2G9 Membership Dues for' 994: In Canada:$31 (incluoing GST). Outside Canada: $29.50 in U.S. luflds. Canadian Rail is continually in need of news, stories, historical data, phOIOS, maps and other material. Please send all contributions to the editor: Fred F. Angus. 3021 Trafalgar Ave. Montreal. P.O. H3Y 1 H3. No payment can be made for contributions, but the con-tributer will be given credi t lor material sub-miMed. Material wi ll be returned to the con Iributo, il requesled. Remember "Knowl edge is of lillie value unless it is shared with others". As part of its activities. the CRHA operates the Canadian Railway Museum at Delson I SI. Constant, Que. which is about 14 miles (23 Km.) from downtown Montreal. It is open from late May to early October (daily until Labour Day). Members . and their immediate families, are admined free of charge. THE GOALOFTHE ASSOCIATION IS THE COLLECTION, PRESERVA nON AND DIS-SEMINATION OF ITEMS RELATING TO THE HISTORY OF CANADIAN RAILWAYS n.e CA"" _ num_ of _ dov' ...... ' Kf'OSS I~~. "'n~ hold reg"'.'_"" __ 1,_ " ...... -. Furl .... Inla_lion "'-Y'" 0""'_ by _ I"", 10 1118 cIM8Ion. NEW 8HUNSWlCK DlVISKlN P.O. &.0 11&2 Saini JCM N.8. E2L 407 DIVISION V ... LLEE..KlNCTlON BEAUCE 397 BMI. Aouu8au V . ... .Jonction 0..& GOS 3JO Sf LAWRENCE VAU.fY DIVISION P.Q Boo: 22. SWim 'S-r.IorrItMI P.O. 1-t3Il3J5 RIDEAIJ VALLEY DIVISION P .0, eo.: 162 SmtII. F ..... Oroc. 1: 1714 KinQ8Ion, Ont. II7\. 5V!i TORONTO" YORK [)(VISION P.O. eo.$849. T..,.,iMI ... TOfOI\to. Ont. M5W I P3

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• NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 1994 207 CANADIAN RAIL - 443

The Victoria Bridge, Introduction

The Victoria Bridge, spanning the St. Lawrence river, was one of the greatest feats of engineering in the 19th century. More than a mile long, it was the longest bridge in the world when it was completed late in 1859. Victorian in concept and design, as well as in name, this structure aptly symbolizes the era named for the Queen who also gave her name to the bridge. Despite the unfortunate tendency these days to consider the Victorian era as old fashioned, simple, and perhaps a little "stuffy", the era was a time of incredible progress and development of the latest in modern inventions. Far from simple, it was a very complex time which laid the foundation for most of the developments we enjoy today.

For 135 years the original Victoria Bridge and its successor, officially named the "Victoria Jubilee Bridge" but known to everyone simply as "Victoria Bridge", has served to carry trains, and later road traffic, across the St. Lawrence. The present bridge replaced the original tubular structure between 1897 and 1899; however it rests on the original piers of the 1850's. Since service was interrupted for a total of only one day during the rebuilding, the continuity has continued since the original bridge was opened.

The tubular concept of bridge design became obsolete with the development of improved structural methods, and the last one in Canada, at Ste. Anne de Bellevue near Montreal, was replaced in 1899, only one year after the completion of the rebuilding of Victoria Bridge. One tubular railway bridge survives at Conway in Wales where it carries the main British Railway line to HoUyhead as it has been doing since 1849.

The second rebuilding, that of the 1950's, saw a diversion built around the St. Lawrence Seaway lock, as well as the destruction of some of the spans and piers at the southern end of the bridge. However there was little interruption to rai I traffic during this rebuilding also.

While some may say that 135 years does not constitute a particular anniversary, preferring such round numbers as 100, 125 or 150, we feel that it is time to devote an issue of Canadian Rail to this subject, the bridge that is one of the greatest surviving relics of Victorian engineering in Canada. We hope you enjoy it.

This Victoria Bridge issue begins with the article "Crossing The River", written by the late Robert R. Brown, and published in serial form in the CRHA News Report, the predecessor of Canadian Rail, between 1954 and 1956. Since few present-day CRHA members have access to these long out-of-print issues, we are reprinting the entire article. A few errors have been cOITected, and some references to surviving artifacts have been brought up to date, however most of the article is as written.

In 1860 Charles Legge, an engineer who had worked on the construction of the bridge, published a small volume entitled "A Glance at the Victoria Bridge and the Men Who Built It". This highly interesting book, of 153 pages, contains a great deal of information and stories about the undertaking. Unfortunately, space does not permit us to reprint the entire work, however extracts have been made of the more significant parts. The resulting selection compliments and adds to the Brown article.

During the last two years of the building of Victoria Bridge, the Grand Trunk Railway commissioned Montreal photographer William Notrnan to take photographs of the work as it progressed. So was created a priceless photographic record probably unprecedented for a construction project of such early date. Most of these photos stili exist and are held by the Notman Photographic Archives of the McCord Museum of Canadian History in Montreal. We have received special permission to use a generous selection of these photos in this issue, and they appear, together with illustrations from other sources, throughout the entire issue. Since the Brown article and the Legge book were not illustrated (apart from some drawings in the Brown article), the presence of these photos is especially valuable. We owe grateful thanks to the McCord for their cooperation.

Also in this issue is some supporting material including Robert Stephenson's 1854 report outlining the necessity and feasibility for a bridge, and Samuel Keefer's 1859 report on the testing of the completed spans just prior to their being placed in service. Some contemporary newspaper items are included as is a brief account of the official inauguration ceremonies in 1860.

• RAIL CANADIEN - 443 208 NOVEMBRE - DECEMBRE 1994

Crossing The River The Story of the Construction of the Victoria Bridge at Montreal

1854 to 1860

By Robert R. Brown (1899 - 1958)

One hundred and forty years ago, the Grand Trunk Railway corrunenced the construction of the Victoria Bridge across the Saint Lawrence River between Montreal and St. Lambert; a structure, which, for many years, was considered the eighth wonder of the modern world. The work was famous for the boldness of design, the ingenious methods of construction, the speedy completion and the famous men connected with it. So that these early engineering triumphs will not be forgotten, we are reprinting the article, which originally appeared in serial fonTI in the "CRHA News Report" from 1954 to 1956. This article, entitled "Crossing the River" described the construction of the Victoria Bridge between 1854 and 1859.

From time immemorial, the Saint Lawrence River has been the great highway of eastern Canada; for centuries, and perhaps millenia, carrying the canoes of Indians, and since the XVII Century, the commerce of a growing nation. At the same time, it for

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