High Level Bridge

Where: Edmonton, AB.

Engineer: Phillips B. Motley

Date of construction: 1910 - 1913

High Level Bridge (background) and Dudley C. Menzies Bridge (foreground). (Source: Wikipedia)

High Level Bridge under construction. (Source: Wikipedia).

Site Location: Lat.: 53° – 31’ – 51” N; Long.: 113° – 30’ – 38” W. (GPS: 53.5307119, -113.5106711). From the Alberta Legislature Building, walk 200 m west-south-west to the north-bound lane of 109 St. Turn left (south) to cross the bridge.

Plaque Location: The plaque is mounted on a concrete pedestal beside the 109th Street sidewalk on the east side of the north end of the bridge.

Plaque on concrete plinth, at lower left corner of the photograph. (Source: Google Street View)

Description: The High Level Bridge crosses the North Saskatchewan River at Edmonton. It is 777m long and consists of 28 spans, including three 88 m. Pratt truss spans across the river. Federal legislation required the crossing to be 150 feet about the river, so a “high level” crossing was necessary. Originally owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway, it was designed by Phillips B. Motley, CPR’s Montreal-based engineer of bridges. It was constructed between 1910 and 1913 by local contractors Pennie and Kerr under the direction of John Gunn and Sons of Winnipeg. The structural steel was fabricated by the Canadian Bridge Company, Walkerville, Ontario (a suburb of Windsor) and shipped to site by rail.

High Level Bridge under construction (Source: Provincial Archives of Alberta)

Canadian Bridge Company, Walkerville, 1913 (Source: Southwestern Ontario Digital Archive, University of Windsor.)

Historic Significance: The bridge linked the communities of Edmonton and Strathcona, which combined to become one city in 1912. The High Level Bridge is one of the four great steel truss bridges constructed by Canadian Pacific before World War One and its incorporation of automobile, rail, and pedestrian traffic was original in Western Canada for its time. John Gunn and Sons of Winnipeg was the firm that had built the CPR railway viaduct at Lethbridge. The Canadian Bridge Company was an iconic steel fabricator of the last century, in particular erecting steel railway bridges from Ontario to British Columbia. (97 words)

Plaque detail. (Source: V. Ayan).

Links to Online Documentation:

Alberta Register of Historic Places, “High Level Bridge”.

Lawrence Herzog, “The High Level Bridge at 100”, 2013.

CSCE Edmonton Section, “The High Level Bridge”