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Finlay Bridge

Finlay Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): C. Hanchey, CC BY-NC 2.0, flickr.com/photos/21953562@N07/

Bridge Documented: May 30, 2015

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Medicine Hat: Cypress County, Alberta: Canada
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1908 By Builder/Contractor: Canadian Bridge Company of Walkerville, Ontario and Engineer/Design: John Chambers
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
180.0 Feet (54.9 Meters)
Structure Length
900.0 Feet (274.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
5 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This beautiful bridge is noted for its number of spans. The bridge was constructed in 1908 by the Canadian Bridge Company. It is a five span Parker through truss. At the time of its completion, Finlay Bridge was the longest steel bridge in Alberta. The Finlay Bridge was named a Municipal Historic Resource by the City of Medicine Hat in 2011.

Above: Historical photo of bridge.

Above: Historical photo of bridge.

Information and Findings From Alberta Register of Historic Places

Discussion of Bridge

Description of Historic Place
Finlay Bridge is a traffic and foot bridge crossing the South Saskatchewan River, connecting the north (Riverside) and south side (Downtown) of Medicine Hat. Constructed of steel, concrete, and wood, this 900 foot span, officially opened on May 14, 1908

Heritage Value
The historical significance in the Finlay Bridge lies with the impact it had for the people of Medicine Hat and southeast Alberta in the first half of the twentieth century, its size, and its namesake and most vocal advocate, William Thomas Finlay.

Finlay Bridge officially opened on May 14, 1908. Although Medicine Hats two banks had been connected by a rail bridge since 1883 and a small ferry service originally operated by the North West Mounted Police, Finlay Bridge meant that Medicine Hat and Southeast Alberta were truly linked to the rest of the new province of Alberta.

Finlay Bridge is named for William T. Finlay: Mayor of Medicine Hat from 1900-1902, representative for Medicine Hat in the Territorial Government 1902-1905, and Medicine Hats first representative in the Alberta Legislature 1905-1910. As MLA and Minister of Agriculture, he advocated for many improvements to the region, perhaps most notably the bridge.

Structurally, Finlay Bridge consists of abutments on each bank of the river, 4 concrete piers (40 feet of which are above the bed and 25 feet which are below), and five steel arches (measuring 31 feet in height and are 180 feet length). The bridge as originally constructed was 28 feet wide with a wood deck and a wood sidewalk running along the west side of traffic. A six foot sidewalk was later added between 1908 and 1917 on the east side of traffic. At the time of construction, Finlay Bridge was the longest steel bridge in Alberta, and the second longest across the South Saskatchewan when built. The Traffic (Victoria) Bridge in Saskatoon which was completed months earlier and was modestly longer, however, is now closed.

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements include:


Continuous use

Riveted steel construction

Cast-in-place concrete piers and abutments

Five spans of curved chord Pratt trusses

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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