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Preservation of Don Mills and Brampton Bowstring Arch bridges see then enter their second century of use

April 2022

Old Don Mills Road Bridge

Built over the Don River, in the Don Mills area of Toronto, in 1921, replacing a previous wooden bridge, this concrete bowstring arch bridge is unique amongst the bowstring bridges remaining in Ontario for its two unusual details at the ends of the arches.

The last two panels of the arch are filled with concrete, creating a solid wall from the arch rib down to the deck of the bridge, and the end of the bridge has a short concrete parapet with unique diamond designs on it.

It’s also seen little alteration and is maintained in excellent condition, likely due to the fact that it sees little vehicular traffic, caused by the re-alignment of Don Mills Road a little to the west in 1954. While vehicles still use the bridge, it’s only to access the parking lot on the north side, used by hikers to access the recreational trails.

Just off the south side of the bridge, visitors can also see a unique outdoor art exhibit: the Elevated Wetlands Sculpture. These three large, white sculptures that look either like the lower half of an elephant or giant teeth, filter and purify water, polluted by the urbanization of the Don River watershed.


Pottery Road Bridge

The current bowstring arch bridge that carries Pottery Road over the Don River was built in 1928, replacing a previous wooden bridge that collapsed the previous year, caused by an overloaded truck carrying bricks, likely from the nearby Toronto Brickworks.

Originally carrying two-way traffic, increases in traffic levels necessitated the construction of a parallel bridge to carry northbound traffic in 1977, with the original bridge carrying southbound traffic.

This new bridge however, was not a bowstring arch bridge, but a much less architecturally significant box girder bridge.


Wiley Bridge

Built in 1924, the Wiley Bridge can be found along a hiking trail, a little north of the dead-end of Gorewood Road in Brampton.

The bridge is large enough that overhead bracing incorporated into its design. As a unique feature, the braces at each end of the bridge are positioned at an angle, while the center brace is perpendicular to the arches. This layout gives the bridge an unusual appearance. It’s one of only two bowstring arch bridges in Brampton.

The bridge was named in honour of the Wiley family. Headed by John and Rebecca Wiley, they were an immigrant family who settled in what was the Gore Township, in 1836. After John died in 1864, fifty acres of his land passed to his two sons, Leonard and William.

The farms stayed in the Wiley family until 1962, when the Metropolitan Conservation Authority assumed ownership of the land and the bridge. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic and the surrounding land was transformed into the Claireville Conservation Area. It’s now used only by pedestrians and cyclists.


Creditview Bridge

Built in the 1928, the Creditview Bridge is the second the two bowstring arch bridges in Brampton, but the only one still open to vehicular traffic.

By 2002, it was in disrepair and faced demolition.  The following year, it was given a heritage designation, and a complete restoration, allowing it to comfortably move into its second century of service.


Also Read:

Sources: https://historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=ontario/donmillsroad, https://hikingthegta.com/2017/04/05/abandoned-don-mills-road, City in the Trees: Wiley Bowstring bridge, Gorewood Road, https://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/Documents/Public Meeting Notices/2013/Wiley Bridge_Notice of Intention to Designate_Updated.pdf, Heritage bridge used as truck route (bramptonguardian.com), Pottery Road Bridge – HistoricBridges.org, Creditview Road Bridge – HistoricBridges.org, Bridges Pottery Road to Riverdale (lostrivers.ca).

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/preservation-of-don-mills-and-brampton-bowstring-arch-bridges-see-then-enter-their-second-century-of-use/

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