By Kristen Luoma, Economic Development Officer, Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands
Little Current, ON, celebrates the centennial anniversary of the Manitoulin Swing Bridge on the weekend of July 12-14. Construction of this important North Channel link was completed by the Algoma Eastern Railway (AER) beginning in 1912, and concluding in 1913.
The AER began operating trains across the bridge to Little Current in October 1913. In 1946, the Canadian Pacific Railroad and the Ministry of Transportation came to an agreement, which modified the bridge by adding road vehicle traffic. As a result, the bridge was left in the closed position to permit crossing of rail and road vehicle traffic, and opened for marine traffic. Today, the bridge operates in the same fashion, opening 15 minutes on the hour every hour during the spring and summer months.
In 1987, the bridge was listed as an Ontario Heritage Bridge. The historic swing bridge is of extreme significance to Manitoulin Island residents, because it is the only means of transportation on and off the island during most of the year. Over the years, it has provided Manitoulin with significant historical, economical, and tourism benefits. As such, Little Current have designated 2013 as the year of the swing bridge, with the main celebrations taking place on the July 12-14 BridgeFest Weekend.
The BridgeFest Weekend activities will feature:
- Opening Ceremonies including interactive storytelling and photos, as well as a wine and cheese event
- Outdoor theatre productions, outdoor art shows and auction
- Classic Car show with a focus on cars from the era of the “first car through the bridge”
- Local musicians and performances, including children’s entertainment
- Street art festival
- Community picnic, including food vendors, musicians, and children’s games
- Wakeboarding competition, musical ride, tugboat rendezvous, flotilla, and much more!
Historic materials have been produced to commemorate the Swing Bridge Centennial, including a historic book, commemorative coins, and post cards. A video compilation will be created through a YouTube contest.
If you wish for further information about BridgeFest, please contact Heidi Ferguson, NEMI Events Coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org