Jacques Cartier Bridge

Where: Montreal, QC

Engineer: Philip L. Pratley

Date of construction: 1930

Jacques Cartier Bridge. (Source: Wikipedia)

Site Location: Lat.: 45° – 31’ – 19” N; Long.: 73° – 32’ – 30” W. (GPS: 45.5218315, -73.5417613). From Autoroute 40, take Exit 73 and Boulevard Crémazie east 1.2 km. Turn right (south east) on Avenue Papineau, which also becomes Quebec Highway 134, and, after 6.4 km, veer left to stay on Hwy. 134 for 0.8 km to the bridge.

Plaque Location: The plaque is mounted on a short pedestal at the west corner of St. Catherine E and Lorimier Streets (GPS 45.524750, -73.550627). Following the directions above, do not turn on Hwy. 134 but stay on Avenue Papineau for another 0.2 km. Turn left (north-east) on St. Catherine E, and continue 150 m. to the Lorimier Street intersection – the pedestal with the plaque on the left. It is one block northeast of the Papineau Station on the Metro Green Line. Bus Routes 34, 150 170, 358, 445 have stops nearby.

Plaque on plinth at west corner of St. Catherine E/Lorimier St. intersection, middle right of photograph. (Source: Google Street View)

Description: The Jacques Cartier Bridge, a five-lane bridge with a total length of 3.4 km (11240 ft.) that opened in 1930, spans the St. Lawrence River between the cities of Montreal and Longueuil. Its signature feature is a cantilever bridge with a main span of 334.4 m (1097 ft) and anchor spans of 128 m (420 ft.) each. It was designed by Philip L. Pratley of the consulting firm Monsarrat and Pratley. Contracts were awarded in 1925 to: Quinlan, Robertson and Janin Ltd. for the south shore piers ($936,000); Dufresne Construction Co. Ltd. for the north shore piers and approaches ($125,000); and, Dominion Bridge Co. Ltd. for supply and erection of the steel superstructure ($6,954,000). Subsequent work included: adding a fourth (1956) and fifth (1959) traffic lanes; lifting the bridge 24.4 m (80 ft.) to achieve clearance for the St. Lawrence Seaway (1958-59); and, full redecking (2001-02).

S.S. Dutchess of Athol passing under Montreal Harbour Bridge (Source: Dominion Bridge Co. Ltd. 1929 Report and Statement)

Warren through-truss over channel of St. Lawrence Seaway, constructed 1958-59. (Source: Google Street View)
Philip Louis Pratley (1884-1958) (Source: https://jacquescartierchamplain.ca)

Historic Significance: The bridge was originally named the Montreal Harbour Bridge and was renamed in 1934 to mark the 400th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s first voyage to Canada. It was the fifth longest cantilever bridge in the world when it opened. P. L. Pratley and the Dominion Bridge Co. Ltd. have iconic status in the history of Canadian steel bridge design and construction. Together they facilitated raising the Seaway span, and its approaches, using 30 massive hydraulic jacks with capacities between 320 and 500 tonnes (350 and 550 tons) while maintaining vehicular traffic.

Plaque detail. (Source: C. Katsanis)

Plaque Wording: Site Historique National de Génie Civil. SCGC. PONT JACQUES-CARTIER. Construction 1925-1930. À l’occasion du soixante-quinzième anniversaire de l’ouverture du pont, un homage est rendu aux ingénieurs civils qui ont conçu et construit cette importante infrastructure de transport au Canada. Sa realisation a exigé plus de trente-trois mille tonnes d’acier, environ quatre millions de rivets et plus de cent trente-cinq mille verges cubes de béton. Ingénieurs concepteurs et surveillants: G. N. Monsarrat P. L. Pratley J. B. Strauss. Comité consultative d’ingénieurs T. W. Harvie H. A. Terreault H. M. Mackay S. A. Baulne L. E. Vallée G. H. Duggan. Entrepreneur, Superstructure en acier Dominion Bridge Company Limited. Entrepreneurs, Infrastructure Quinlan Robertson & Janin Limited Dufresne Construction Company Limited. Société canadienne de genie civil. 2005.

National Historic Civil Engineering Site. CSCE. JACQUES CARTIER BRIDGE. 1925-30 Constructed. On the occasion of the seventy fifth anniversary of the opening of the bridge, a tribute is made to the civil engineers who designed and constructed this important Canadian transportation infrastructure. The project used over thirty-three thousand tons of steel, about four million rivets, and more than one hundred and thirty five thousand cubic yards of concrete. G. N. Monserrat P. L. Pratley J. B. Strauss Design and Supervising Engineers. T. W. Harvie H. A. Terreault H. M. Mackay S. A. Baulne L. E. Vallée G. H. Duggan Advisory Board of Engineers. Dominion Bridge Company Limited Contractor, Steel Superstructure. Quinlan Robertson & Janin Limited Dufresne Construction Company Limited Contractors, Substructure. 2005. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering.

Links to Online Documentation:
“Jacques Cartier Bridge”
Heritage Montreal, “Jacques Cartier Bridge”
“Jacques Cartier Bridge”, www.montrealroads.com
Robert W. Passfield, “Philip Louis Pratley (1884-1958): bridge design engineer”, Can. J. Civ. Eng., 2007.

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