MHS Smarty Party: 20 October 2022

Manitoba Historical Society
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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Canadian Pacific Railway Main Line Bridge (Red River, Winnipeg)

Early plans for this Canadian Pacific Railway bridge in Winnipeg were prepared by December 1900 and approval from the Railway Committee of the Federal Privy Council was granted on 17 January 1901. The 780-foot, dual-track structure was built between 1901 and 1902 by the contracting firm of Kelly Brothers, whose principals were Martin Kelly, Michael Kelly, and Thomas Kelly. Supervision of early phases of the project was provided by John Woodman. By December 1901, two of the bridge’s five spans were complete. With all but minor rivet-work remaining as of late May 1902, the opening was delayed by over a month by a shortage of ballast for the approaches. Completed at a cost of $250,000, the first train crossed the bridge in early July 1902.

As a part of a 1918 geodetic survey between Stephen, Minnesota and Winnipeg Beach, Winnipeg Mayor Frederick Harvey Davidson approved a request by the federal government to have city engineers affix geodetic markers to the piers of the bridge at 749 feet above sea level.

The bridge’s 258-foot centre swing span was operational until around 1969, when it was fixed in place, permanently blocking river travel for larger watercraft, which were then forced to stop at the Alexander Docks or Redwood Docks. In 1988, the railroad estimated that restoring the swing capability would cost in excess of $1 million.

Canadian Pacific Railway Main Line Bridge

Canadian Pacific Railway Main Line Bridge (June 2015)
Source: Nathan Kramer

Canadian Pacific Railway Main Line Bridge

Canadian Pacific Railway Main Line Bridge (June 2015)
Source: Nathan Kramer

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.90267, W97.10853
denoted by symbol on the map above


“C.P.R. Bridge over the Red,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 December 1900, page 8.

“Privy Council approve plans,” Manitoba Free Press, 18 January 1901, page 2.

“Contract for C.P.R. Bridge,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 January 1901, page 8.

“Kelly’s contracts,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 January 1901, page 8.

“Piers and Peterson,” Manitoba Free Press, 12 December 1901, page 4.

“City and General [Bridgemen are busy placing piles ... ],” Manitoba Free Press, 26 April 1902, page 16.

“City and General [new C.P.R. bridge in Point Douglas],” Manitoba Free Press, 26 May 1902, page 16.

“Work on C.P.R. Bridge and subway,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 may 1902, page 4.

“Opening new C.P.R. bridge,” Manitoba Free Press, 12 June 1902, page 3.

“City and General [The new C.P.R. bridge ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 14 June 1902, page 10.

“Opening new C.P.R. Bridge,” Manitoba Free Press, 3 July 1902, page 2.

“City and General [Work on the new C.P.R. bridge ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 23 July 1901, page 10.

“Millions for new bridges for C.P.R.,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 April 1913, page 3.

“To place geodetic plates on bridges,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 December 1918, page 5.

“Shipowner seeks open railway bridge,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 September 1988, page 3.

“City wants to lock swinging bridges,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly West Edition, 30 July 1989, page 1.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 1 May 2021

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