Slip Into Something Victorian

Montreal’s Victoria Bridge

On this St. Patrick’s Day, I’d like to tell you a little bit about Montreal’s Victoria Bridge.

Sometimes called Montreal’s Eighth Wonder of the World, the Victoria Bridge was the first bridge to span the mighty St. Lawrence River. It opened in 1859 and was initially named for Queen Victoria. After renovations in 1897, it was rededicated as the Victoria Jubilee Bridge. It’s approximately three miles long and includes 24 ice-breaking piers.

Prior to the bridge’s construction, it was difficult and at times impossible to cross the St. Lawrence River during the long winter season as freeze up and thawing in the fall and spring made for treacherous conditions. Summer river crossings took place by boat and in winter by sleigh.The bridge is still used today, carrying both road and rail traffic.

It is also a memorial to the hundreds of Irish immigrants who lost their lives in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

The memorial can still be seen today in the Black Rock, also known as the Irish Stone, which stands at the approach of the Victoria Bridge. During the construction of that bridge, workmen discovered human remains of Irish immigrants to Canada. They decided to erect a large black stone that bears this inscription:

To preserve from desecration the remains of 6000 immigrants who died of ship fever A.D. 1847-8, this stone is erected by the workmen of Messrs. Peto, Brassey and Betts employed in the construction of the Victoria Bridge A.D. 1859

A stirring memorial to a brave and valiant people.

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1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Ross says:

    We sure used to know how to build bridges and such. Imagine a bridge built in 1859 still standing (renovations notwithstanding) and in service today. We also used to build wonderful monuments. Between 1850 and 1900 we put a lot of money into such memorials.

    You’d be lucky to get a plaque today. And let’s not even discuss today’s bridge builders, eh?

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