Bridges for Canada

Canadian Military Engineers’ Bridges for Canada Program

Bridging gaps along the Trail

The very nature of our land demands that the Trail must bridge gaps over countless gullies, ravines, rivers and streams. Many of these present formidable challenges to volunteer Trail builders and participating communities, and require professional engineering skills if spans are to be scenic, safe and lasting.

To conquer nature’s obstacles, Canadian Forces military engineers volunteered their specialized skills and labour to help communities in bridge building along the Trail.

The CME surveyed terrain and determined the types of bridges to be constructed, in many cases transforming abandoned railway bridges into safe and sure Trail structures. Working with the Trans Canada Trail, local community Trail Builders raised the funds for the bridging materials and equipment.

Bridges for Canada

This national program, called “Bridges for Canada 2003” was a three-year cooperative project between the Trans Canada Trail and the Canadian Military Forces.

Canadians in communities across the country saw “Bridges for Canada” engineers demonstrate traditional engineering skills that continued their legacy of contributing to the building of Canada. “Bridges For Canada” benefited all Canadians and provided military engineers, engineering students and cadets with practical field training that left behind essential bridging links.

A history of service at home and abroad

For the last century, military engineers have been a part of Canadian communities. By bridging the gap from generation to generation and city to city, military engineers have worked with communities in the development of Canada. Our forefathers saw military engineers contribute to the development of cities such as Halifax, Quebec City and Vancouver. Military engineers later served Canada in the First and Second World Wars as well as during the Korean War, where their involvement included road, airfield and camp consolidation, and bridging in particular.

Today, military engineers – navy, army and air force – continue serving on peacekeeping missions abroad. At home, when nature turns against us, men and women of the Bridges for Canada are called upon for civilian rescue and evacuation, and to combat the forces of floods, ice storms and other natural disasters. The military engineers’ story is one of continuous dedication to their country and fellow citizens.

The Trail ahead

The Trans Canada Trail has built a special association with the Bridges for Canada. On May 17, 2001, the three outer walls of the Trans Canada Trail Pavilion in Halifax, Nova Scotia were dedicated as a Tribute to the Military Engineers: a statement of appreciation for their contributions to the Trail and in recognition of their long history of service to Canada. The Pavilion’s exterior wall panels will permanently record their proud place in the building of our nation. Set at the Dartmouth ferry terminal overlooking Citadel Hill, McNabbs Island defences and the Halifax Dockyard, the Pavilion is located in a historically meaningful area that captures the military engineer heritage.

All Canadians salute them for their contribution to Canada – and to the Trans Canada Trail.

Canadian Military Engineer Bridges:

  • Bernier Bridge

    Bromptonville, Québec.
    Type of project: New construction, 66 m steel suspension bridge
    Work completed: October 2001
    By: 5 Combat Engineer Regiment, Valcartier, QC
    Note: Replaces a bridge built in 1978.
    Thanks to: Société de développement des Corridors verts; Club de motoneige de l'Estrie; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate sponsors.
  • Buffalo Bridge

    St. Anne de Madawaska, New Brunswick
    Type of project: New construction, 20 m non-standard wooden bridge
    Work completed: June 2002
    By: Royal Netherlands Army Engineers of 11 Armoured Engineer Battalion, Wezep, Holland
    Working with: Canadian Military Engineers from 4 Engineer Support Regiment, Gagetown, NB
    Note: Named for the buffalo displayed on the unit crest of the Dutch engineers.
    Thanks to: New Brunswick Trails Council; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Canadian Railway Troops Crossing

    Grand Forks, British Columbia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 54 m railway bridge
    Work completed: August 2002
    By: British military engineers of the 75th Regiment of Royal Engineers
    Working with: 44th Field Engineer Squadron, Trail, BC
    Note: Dedicated to the Canadian railway troops serving with the Canadian Military Engineers during both world wars.
    Thanks to: Trails Society of British Columbia; the community; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Celtic Crossings

    Inverness, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, eleven railway bridges
    Work completed: November 2002
    By: 45th Field Engineer Squadron, Sydney, NS
    Note: These bridges completed an 83 km stretch of the Trail.
    Thanks to: Inverness' Victoria Trails Federation; Ceilidh Coastal Trail Association; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Credit River Bridge

    Caledon, Ontario
    Type of project: New construction, 25 m double-single extra-wide Bailey bridge
    Work completed: June 1999
    By: 2nd Field Engineer Regiment, Toronto, ON
    Note: Designed to carry a load of 11 tonnes.
    Thanks to: Town of Caledon; Ontario Trails Council; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Little Credit River Bridge

    Caledon, Ontario
    Type of project: New construction, 12 m steel-and-timber bridge
    Work completed: September 1999
    By: 2nd Field Engineer Regiment, Toronto, ON
    Note: Engineers demolished previous footbridge and completed new construction as part of their training for combat situations.
    Thanks to: Toronto and Region Conservation Authority; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance Bridges

    Tweed, Ontario
    Phase 1
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, three bridges
    Work completed: March 2002
    By: 3rd Field Engineer Squadron, Ottawa, ON
    Thanks to: Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.

    Phase 2
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, two wooden bridges
    Work completed: April 2002
    By: 2nd Field Engineer Regiment, Toronto, ON
    Thanks to: Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Ghost Beach Bridge

    Troy, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: New construction, 32 m steel-girder truss bridge
    Work completed: May 2002
    By: Field Engineer Training Squadron, Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering, CFB Gagetown, NB
    Note: Constructed on shore in Port Hastings, NS, and ferried during neutral tide into position.
    Thanks to: Ceilidh Coastal Trail Association; Nova Scotia Department of Tourism and Culture; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Gold River Bridge

    Chester, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 113 m railway trestle bridge
    Work completed: August 2001
    By: 143 Airfield Engineering Flight, Bridgewater, NS
    Note: Completed in just three days. Thanks to: Municipality of Chester; Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Great Blue Heron Bridges

    Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve, Chilliwack, British Columbia
    Type of project: New construction, two 18 m steel bridges
    Work completed: August 2002
    By: 192 Airfield Engineering Flight, Abbotsford, BC
    Note: Delicate ecosystem
    Thanks to: City of Chilliwack; Scott Environmental Consultants; the community; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Guysborough County Bridges

    Communities of Gunsbrook and Big River Dam, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: New construction, two 16 m bridges
    Work completed: August 2001
    By: Students of the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering, Gagetown, NB
    Note: Designed by the students; constructed concurrently. Thanks to: Guysborough County Trails Association; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Haliburton Gut Bridge

    Pictou, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 38 m railway bridge
    Work completed: December 1998
    By: 144 Airfield Engineering Flight, Pictou, NS
    Thanks to: Pictou County Trails Association; Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission; the community; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • High Falls Bridge

    Bracebridge, Ontario
    Type of project: New construction, 43 m double-single reinforced ACROW bridge
    Work completed: June 2000
    By: 2nd Field Engineer Regiment, Toronto, ON
    Note: Designed to carry a load of 16 tonnes.
    Thanks to: Township of Bracebridge; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Inverness County Bridges

    Between Mile 3 and Mile 42 of the Cape Breton Trail, Inverness County, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, thirteen abandoned railway bridges
    Work completed: May 2001
    By: Field engineering students from the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering, Gagetown, NB
    Note: Completed one 23 m bridge in just three hours.
    Thanks to: Inverness' Victoria Trails Federation; Ceilidh Coastal Trail Association; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • "Izzy" Bridge

    Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, British Columbia
    Type of project: New construction, 40 m Bailey bridge
    Work completed: September 1999
    By: 44th Field Engineer Squadron, Trail, BC
    Working with: 6th Field Engineer Squadron, Vancouver, BC, 33rd Field Engineer Squadron, Calgary, AB and 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, Edmonton, AB.
    Note: Named in honour of Master Corporal Mark "Izzy" Isfeld, a military engineer killed by a land mine while serving in Croatia in 1994.
    Thanks to: Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area; Ministry of Highways, Columbia Brewery; the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia; Ducks Unlimited; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Kettle River Bridge

    South of Christina Lake, British Columbia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 156 m railway bridge
    Work completed: July 2003
    By: British Royal Engineers from 21 Engineer Regiment (UK), Osnabruk, Germany
    Working with: 44th Field Engineer Squadron, Trail, BC
    Thanks to: Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Lieutenant General Maarten Schouten Bridge

    St. Leonard, New Brunswick
    Type of project: New construction, 43 m Bailey bridge
    Work completed: June 2002
    By: Royal Netherlands Army Engineers of 11 Armoured Engineer Battalion, Wezep, Holland
    Working with: Canadian Military Engineers from 4 Engineer Support Regiment, Gagetown, NB
    Note: Constructed using materials shipped from Holland; gifted to the community. First foreign engineer corps to contribute to the "Bridges for Canada" program.
    Thanks to: New Brunswick Trails Council; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Martin's Brook Bridge

    Between Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 10 m railway bridge
    Work completed: April 2002
    By: 143 Airfield Engineering Flight, Bridgewater, NS
    Note: Built during worst spring snowstorm in decades.
    Thanks to: Bay-to-Bay Trail Association; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Martin's River Bridge

    Mahone Bay, NS
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 77 m railway bridge
    Work completed: June 2002
    By: 143 Airfield Engineering Flight, Bridgewater, NS
    Note: As a part of the opening ceremonies, three new recruits were sworn in to the Canadian Forces and 14 Airfield Engineering Squadron.
    Thanks to: Dynamite Trail Association; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Melville Bridge

    Melville, Prince Edward Island
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 54 m railway bridge
    Work completed: August 2002
    By: Field engineering students from the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering, Gagetown, NB
    Note: Bridge is first link in the Trail extension from Murray River to Iona.
    Thanks to: Island Trails Inc.; Province of Prince Edward Island; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate sponsors.
  • "Mush-a-Mush" Bridge

    Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 100 m railway bridge
    Work completed: October 2002
    By: 143 Airfield Engineering Flight, Bridgewater, NS
    Thanks to: Bay to Bay Trail Association; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Nursery Trestle Bridge

    Between Grand Forks and Christina Lake, British Columbia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 77 m railway bridge
    Work completed: July 2003
    By: British Royal Engineers from 21 Engineer Regiment (UK), Osnabruk, Germany
    Working with: 44th Field Engineer Squadron, Trail, BC
    Thanks to: Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • "Ready-Aye-Ready" Bridge

    Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: New construction, 40 m bridge
    Work completed: June 2000
    By: Naval Construction Troop (Atlantic), Halifax, NS
    Note: Takes its name from the sailors' reply to the call to duty. Eleven spans supported by rock-and-steel cribs and wood piles; can support a maximum load of 7 tonnes.
    Thanks to: Cole Harbour Parks and Trail Association; Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission; the community; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • River John Bridge

    River John, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 110 m historic railway trestle bridge
    Work completed: June 1999
    By: 14 Airfield Engineering Squadron, Pictou, NS
    Working with: 45th Field Engineer Squadron, Sydney, NS
    Note: Dangerous project — 26 m drop to the water
    Thanks to: Pictou County Trails Association; Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission; the community; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Riviere Jacques-Cartier Bridge

    Jacques Cartier Park, Shannon, Québec
    Type of project: New construction, two non-standard bridges
    Work completed: July 2001
    By: 5 Combat Engineer Regiment, Valcartier, QC
    Note: Massive logs moved into position without heavy equipment.
    Thanks to: Shannon Municipal Park; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate sponsors.
  • Rocky Run Bridge

    Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, 35 m railway bridge
    Work completed: August 2002
    By: Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering, Gagetown, NB
    Note: Project involved restoration of the piers and abutments, and gave combat divers practice in damage assessment and underwater construction.
    Thanks to: Atlantic View Trails; Province of Nova Scotia; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • "Sappeur Constructeur" Bridge

    Field, Ontario
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, two 100 m railway bridges
    Work completed: April 2003
    By: 9th Field Engineer Squadron, Rouyn-Noranda, QC
    Working with: 3rd Field Engineer Regiment, Montreal, QC
    Note: The military engineers, also known as “sappers", who completed this project trained local groups in bridge-construction techniques; future projects will be built by the community.
    Thanks to: Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Tatamagouche Bridges

    Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia
    Type of project: Restoration for recreational use, three bridges
    Work completed: May 2000
    By: 14 Airfield Engineering Squadron, Pictou County, NS
    Working with: 1st Battalion of the Nova Scotia Highlanders; 33rd Service Battalion; Naval Construction Troop (Atlantic) — all from Halifax, NS
    Thanks to: Colchester Trails Association; the community; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.
  • Tawatinaw Bridge

    Athabasca, Alberta
    Type of project: New construction, 28 m Bailey bridge
    Work completed: May 2002
    By: 8th Field Engineer Regiment, Edmonton, AB
    Thanks to: Alberta TrailNet Society; the community; Trans Canada Trail; Centennial 2003 corporate partners.

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Photos from the Trail


Photo by: Betty Anne Graves
Trail: Banff Legacy Trail