Old Ottawa South Community Association

  • Ottawa South History Project

Mutchmore Bridge over the Rideau Canal

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Research notes from viewing the following LAC items:  

LAC Title:            Rideau Canal , Ottawa, Mutchmore Bridge

File part of:         Correspondence received and subject files [textual records] (R610-156-1-E)

Date(s)               1871-1910

Finding aid no.   43-16

Reference numbers: Former archival no.   RG43-B-I-1

Volume     1405 file part 1

File no.       6078

Subject heading: 

1. Rideau Canal-Bridges and Tunnels.

2. Ottawa, Ont.


                                       On Feb. 21, 1910, Mr. W.A.Bowden, Acting Chief Engineer of Canals of the Federal Department of Railways and Canals, sent a letter to A.T. Phillips, Superintending Engineer of Canals, asking him specific questions concerning a proposed bridge to be built over the Rideau Canal at Mutchmore Street, in Ottawa.

                                      In his reply of Feb. 28, 1910, Mr. A.T. Phillips reported that the Canadian Government had already entirely built and maintained six bridges within the limits of the City of Ottawa: Dufferin, Sappers and Laurier, being high level bridges, and Ottawa East (Pretoria), Bank and Concession (Bronson) being  swing bridges necessitating the presence of a bridge-keeper and his house.

                                      Mr. Phillips also stated that the construction of the Rideau Canal, by raising the level of the water for navigation purposes, had increased the length of the crossing on the line of Mutchmore Street over what was originally a gully. Since he believed that the Federal Government should not bear the entire cost of building and maintaining this bridge and the bridge-keeper's house, he proposed that other interested parties such as the Ottawa Improvement Commission (precursor to the National Capital Commission), the City of Ottawa, and the Ottawa Electric Railway (streetcars) should be communicated with, in view of sharing the costs.

                                      Mr. Phillips proposed that the Federal Department of Railways and Canals should limit their share of the cost to the erection of the swing span with its piers (the part that would be over the gully) and the erection of the bridge-keeper's house. The two fixed spans on the shore, with their piers, would be the responsibility of the other parties and the Ottawa Electric Company would pay the cost of the streetcar railway if they decide to take their cars across.

                                      Of major interest, Mr. Phillips then stated that he had been informed by the Ottawa City Engineer, Mr. Newton Ker, that the main reason for the City asking for this bridge was to enable to Ottawa fire reels to get quickly across the Canal into Ottawa East. The Village of Ottawa East had been annexed by the City of Ottawa in 1907, at he same time as the Villages of Rideauville (Old Ottawa South) and Hintonburg. The Mutchmore Bridge would avoid the delay that the reels would have by going round by the Bank St. bridge or the Stewarton  bridge. [Mr. Phillips uses the terms Ottawa East Bridge and Stewarton Bridge without distinction. Stewarton was the area south of Gladstone that was owned by William Stewart a stalwart of early Ottawa history. The Canadian Museum of Nature is built where the Stewart family home used to be and the McLeod-Stewart United Church is named after a son of William Stewart].

                                      In his reply, Mr. Phillips included a diagram of the proposed bridge. He proposed a double-swing bridge with a span of 145 feet. By swinging on a central pivot, the bridge would have provided two channel openings of 50 feet wide. The fixed spans on either side would not exceed 70 feet each. The width of the roadway would have been 24 feet with a six-foot sidewalk on either side. The floor of the bridge and sidewalks would have been made of timber and plank. The estimated cost for such a bridge in 1910 dollars was 50,000 dollars. (My grand-father built a 3-storey brick home on Echo Drive in 1912 for 4,000 dollars).

                                      Also, Mr. Phillips did not think that the Rideau Canoe Club situated at the end of Fifth Avenue would be affected. (The Ritz on the Canal is presently situated on the former docks of the Rideau Canoe Club). However, Mr Phillips suggested that access to the Club house would be facilitated by a flight of stairs from the abutment's sidewalk.

                                      In conclusion, Mr. Phillips stated that, although quicker access to Ottawa East by fire reels was a good reason, the facts that Ottawa East was not a very populous district of the City of Ottawa and that the proposed Mutchmore  Bridge was equidistant from the Ottawa East Bridge and the Bank St. Bridge (both swing bridges) at about 1200 yards, he did not think that this proposed bridge was an actual necessity at that time. However, he also stated that the rapidly increasing growth of the City of Ottawa would necessitate the construction of the Mutchmore Bridge plus two more additional bridges at a not very distant date. He did not specify the emplacement of these two additional bridges.

Jean-Claude Dubé
September 2, 2008

Last modified on Saturday, 25 April 2020 16:57

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