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Middle Road Bridge – Ontario’s first concrete bowstring truss bridge

April 2020

Spanning the Etobicoke Creek, on the border of Mississauga and Toronto, sits a small, unassuming bridge, known as the Middle Road Bridge.

While the bridge now carries only pedestrian traffic, this historic concrete bowstring truss bridge was the first of its kind in Ontario, and was once a part of the road that became the new Toronto to Hamilton highway, later succeeded by the Queen Elizabeth Way.

The Middle Road was once a dusty, rural concession road that ran parallel to the Dundas Highway (also known as the King’s Highway 5) and Lakeshore Road (also known as the King’s Highway 2).

Designed by Frank Barber of Barber and Young, a prominent Toronto bridge and structural engineering company, the 14 foot wide by 86 foot long bridge was built between 1910 and 1911, on the stone abutments of an earlier bridge.

The Middle Road Bridge is, “…an early example of reinforced concrete truss or tied arch bridge construction…. it’s massive arched compression chords, slim vertical tension members and system of counter braces…truss joints specially designed so that members will fail in the body rather than at the joint,” according to Canada’s Historic Places.

As it only allowed for one lane of traffic, it became too small as automobile traffic increased approaching the 1930s. By 1932, the traffic route was diverted just to the south and upgraded as a Depression-era relief project.

The Middle Road Bridge remained in use by local farmers until around 1940.

Today, a quiet residential suburb occupies the Mississauga side of the bridge, and the Queensway Hospital is on the Toronto side. The bridge not only provides pedestrian access across Etobicoke Creek, but it also provides access to the walking trails on the Toronto side that lead down to Lake Ontario.

Historical societies in both Toronto and Mississauga recognize the Middle Road Bridge as a historically significant structure.

Sources: https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=3026, https://hikingthegta.com/2014/08/21/middle-road-bridge, http://www.thekingshighway.ca/PHOTOS/QEWphotos8.htm, City of Mississauaga Bylaw 1101-86; Middle Road Bridge Heritage Structure Report, City of Mississauga, 1984; City of Mississauga File CS.08.SHE 1&2.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/middle-road-bridge-ontarios-first-concrete-bowstring-truss-bridge/

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