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Maryland Bridge is Falling Down

by C. E. Parker

Manitoba Pageant, Winter 1965, Volume 10, Number 2

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct inquiries to webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

In 1920, the school children of Winnipeg could adapt an old song from another country and chant, with some degree of certainty "Maryland Bridge is falling down!" By this time, the old bridge, built many years before, was unable to stand the strain of the traffic it had to bear.

The City Council itself became alarmed about the condition of the structure and, on February 16, 1920 passed the following by-law:

BY-LAW No. 9900

A By-Law of the City of Winnipeg to regulate traffic upon and over the Maryland Bridge.

WHEREAS the City of Winnipeg is the Owner of a certain public bridge, called the "Maryland Bridge" crossing the Assiniboine River in the City of Winnipeg, connecting Maryland Street, in the Parish of Saint James, with Academy Road, in the Parish of St. Boniface, the North end of and approach to such Bridge being on Maryland Street, and the South end of and approach to such bridge being on Academy Road;

AND WHEREAS it is deemed desirable and expedient to regulate the Traffic over and upon the said Bridge;

NOW THEREFORE, the Municipal Council of the City of Winnipeg, in Council assembled, enacts as follows:-

1. No person shall operate a street car upon or over said Maryland Bridge at a speed exceeding five miles per hour.

2. No two or more street cars shall be operated upon or over said Maryland Bridge at a lesser distance apart than two hundred and fifty feet between two cars, and no street car shall be operated upon and over said Maryland Bridge with a trailer attached thereto.

3. No person shall operate a motor truck of two or more tons capacity upon or over said Maryland Bridge at a greater speed than five miles per hour, or any motor vehicle of less than two tons capacity at a greater speed than ten miles per hour.

4. No person shall operate any horse drawn vehicle, or shall ride or lead any horse or other animal upon or over said Maryland Bridge at a speed faster than a walk.

5. No person or persons using said Bridge shall loiter, congregate or create a crowd thereupon.

Conditions could not be allowed to go on like this, of course, and so the Council prepared By-Law No. 9900 which was "A By-Law of the City of Winnipeg to create a debt of $300,000.00 by the issue and sale of debentures to raise an amount necessary for reconstructing, enlarging, altering and improving "Maryland Bridge" and the approaches thereto." This By-Law was to be submitted to the qualified electors on June 11, 1920. Note especially Item 5.

It was a close one. At that time, a money by-law required a 60% majority to be passed. As the official text of the by-law reads:

This By-Law was submitted to the qualified electors on June 11th, 1920, and declared defeated, the vote being as follows:-

In Favour

1451

Against

954

Rejected

23

A recount was made by Judge R. Hill Myers on July 2nd, who declared the By-Law carried, the vote being as follows:-

In Favour

1445

Against

961

Rejected ballot papers not taken into account.

As you can see, the total votes cast were 2,406 and 60% of that is 1443.6. With 1,445 "In Favor", it was indeed a narrow victory. But victory it was, and the bridge we now know as the "Maryland Bridge" was officially opened a short time later.

Page revised: 18 July 2009

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