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

Spanning the Red River between Winnipeg and St. Boniface, this bridge was commissioned by Mackenzie & Mann for the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR). Construction of the piers and abutments was awarded to the Kelly Brothers (Thomas Kelly, Michael Kelly, and Martin Kelly). The work began in 1901 and finished in 1902. The bridge connected track at approximately what is the western approach to the present Provencher Bridge (then around the foot of Water Avenue) on the western bank approximately where Verendrye Street is located on the eastern side. The bridge also featured a central swing span to facilitate water traffic of larger vessels, including steamboats.

The bridge remained an active rail link until the merging of CNoR along with the National Transcontinental Railway and Grand Trunk Railway into the Canadian National Railway (CNR), after which traffic was rerouted to the Canadian National Railway Main Line Bridge, with abandonment following in 1924. In February 1937, CNR contracted the Dominion Bridge Company to dismantle the bridge. The center 250-ton swing span was disassembled and transported via 10-12 large flatbed rail cars to Frederickton, New Brunswick where it was slated to replace a bridge span on the St. John River washed out by a flood in 1936. Over the following several weeks, the remaining steel was salvaged and returned to the eastern banks for processing and salvage. The former bridge piers were subsequently demolished to improve river navigation. No vestige of the former bridge remains.

The steamship Alexandra with the Canadian Northern Railway Main Line Bridge in the background

The steamship Alexandra with the Canadian Northern Railway Main Line Bridge in the background (no date)
Source: Andrew Cunningham

Union Station and Yards, Winnipeg with the Canadian Northern Railway Main Line Bridge in the centre-left background

Union Station and Yards, Winnipeg with the Canadian Northern Railway Main Line Bridge in the centre-left background (1913) by Maurice Lyall
Source: Andrew Cunningham

Site Location (lat/long): N49.89250, W97.12795
denoted by symbol on the map above


“New bridge and station,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 January 1901, page 8.

“MacKenzie-Mann and their plans,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 February 1901, page 1.

“Canadian Northern Railway company - notice to contractors,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 February 1901, page 6.

“The bridge contract,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 March 1901, page 8.

“M’Kenzie interviewed,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 March 1901, page 3.

“M’Dermott Avenue bridge,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 March 1901, page 2.

“Railway to the coast,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 September 1903, page 1.

“Local news paragraphs [The city's sidewalk on Water St.],” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 October 1903, page 12.

“Old C.N.R. Bridge across Red to be removed; span to be used at Fredericton, N.B.” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 February 1937, page 3.

“Railway bridge being sent from Winnipeg to N.B.” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 February 1937, page 1.

“"Staccato of river busters barks out death knell for old C. N. R. Bridge over Red,” by Jack Andre, Winnipeg Tribune, 12 February 1937, page 3.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 9 September 2018

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