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John Hextall Bridge

Shouldice Bridge

John Hextall Bridge

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

Bridge Documented: May 17, 2015

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Bow River Pathway (Former Bowness Road) Over Bow River
Location
Calgary: Calgary, Alberta: Canada

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
130 Feet (40 Meters)
Structure Length
395 Feet (120 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
Spans
3 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This early surviving truss bridge in Alberta is also notable as an uncommon surviving bridge built by the Algoma Steel Bridge Company. The bridge has been bypassed and preserved for pedestrian use.

Information and Findings From Calgary Historic Resources

Discussion of Bridge

Hextall (Shouldice) Bridge
Year of Construction: 1910
Community: MONTGOMERY
Resource Type: City Wide Historic Resource
Original Use Type: Transport
Original Use SubType: Bridge
Architectural Style: N/A
Architect: N/A
Builder: Algoma Bridge Company
Provincial Master Plan Theme: Transportation
Development Era: 1906 to 1913 (Pre WWI Boom, Age of Optimism)
Legal Description: N/A
Other Significant Dates: As well as the year of completion other significant dates are: 1950 - Removal of street railway tracks 1986 - adjacent replacement bridge built 1987 - renamed as Hextall Bridge 1988 - listed as an Alberta Registered Historic Resource

Legally Protected/Federally Recognized:
Federal: No
Provincial: No
Registered: Yes
Municipal: No

HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

The Shouldice (Hextall) Bridge was constructed in 1910 to 1911 by John Hextall as part of a land development project that he has initiated in Bowness. Hextall came to the Calgary area from England in 1908 and purchased the Bowness Ranch. Soon after, when the building boom was underway, he decided to turn the area into a suburb designed to attract wealthy residents. During a trip to England in 1909, he formed the Bowness Land Development Company.

After returning to Calgary, he undertook several projects in rapid succession. To attract buyers, he built a golf course and club, constructed an electrical generating station, developed the two islands in the Bow River into a park site, and built a 75,000 dollar three span steel truss bridge connecting Bowness to Calgary which was completed in 1911. That fall, he reached an agreement with the city of Calgary whereby he would donate the park and the bridge and pay for construction to supply hourly transit service. The streetcars began running in June 1912 and many Calgarians began to enjoy outings at Bowness Park.

Within the next two years, however, the land boom collapsed, Hextall died, and World War One began. Only a few houses had actually been built and land values depreciated rapidly. A Soldiers' Settlement built in 1946 brought new residents, and by 1960 the population had reached 9,000. In 1952 the town of Bowness was incorporated, and in 1964 it became part of the city of Calgary. The streetcars continued to run across the Shouldice (Hextall) Bridge until the beginning of the 1950s, when the bridge was turned over to bus and automobile traffic.

Significance Summary:
This site is significant because:
- it is symbolically valuable as an integral component to the historic development of the Bowness community. (Symbolic value - community significance)

- it is the only surviving example of a Pratt through-truss bridge in Calgary; it is distinguished by its distinctive framework of steel structural members; (Design value - City Wide significance)

- it is a landmark in the Bowness and Montgomery areas both currently and historically as a gateway to those communities; it was one of the few built features in what was otherwise a rural and mostly undeveloped area; it became known to generations of Calgarians who traversed the streetcar line, via the bridge, to Bowness Park; (Landmark value - community significance)

- it was an important component of the street-railway system to Bowness; the street-railway system enabled transportation activity that was integral to Calgary's development; the bridge is one of a small number of infrastructure elements that remain to recall the street-railway system (Activity value - City Wide significance)

- the bridge is closely associated with John Hextall, the developer of Bowness, and is one of a few tangible features that recall Hextall's contribution to the area's development (Person value - City Wide significance)

Statement of Significance
Description:
The Hextall (Shouldice) Bridge, constructed in 1910, is a three-span, Pratt through-truss, steel bridge with a straight top cord. The bridge spans the Bow River and connects the neighbourhoods of Bowness and Montgomery. Originally a road and street railway bridge, it is now part of the Bow River Pathway, a bicycle and pedestrian system.

Heritage Value:
The Hextall (Shouldice) Bridge, built in 1910, is symbolically valuable as an integral component to the historic development of the Bowness community. Construction of the bridge made it possible to access the Bowness area from Calgary, leading to the first development of Bowness during the pre-World War One boom (1909-13). First known simply as the Hextall Bridge, it became commonly known as the Shouldice Bridge, in reference to the Shouldice family farm east of the river, which also lent its name to the area.

The original development of Bowness was led by John Hextall (1861-1914), who sought to transform the area into an idyllic garden suburb of spacious lots and beautiful homes. Hextall migrated from England to Calgary in 1908 and subsequently purchased the Bowness Ranche to become the site of his ideal suburban community. Hextall's construction of the bridge initiated development of the community and was first used by those who had purchased land in his subdivision. In 1911 however, Hextall secured an agreement with the City to accept ownership of the bridge to the city (plus two islands for park use) in exchange for an extension of the street railway system to Bowness via the bridge. Extension of the street railway system was a key part of Hextall's plan to entice owners to what was then a rural and far-flung area.

Despite Hextall's plan, only a small number of houses, plus a golf course and elegant clubhouse, were constructed at Bowness before the economic bust of 1913 halted most construction until after World War II. For this reason, the bridge is one of a few tangible features that recall Hextall's contribution to the development of the Bowness area of Calgary.

The Hextall (Shouldice) Bridge is significant in its design as the only surviving example of its kind in Calgary - a Pratt through-truss road bridge. Three spans in length, the bridge is distinguished by its distinctive framework of steel structural members on each side of the deck, and above. Truss bridges are made up of straight pieces of steel connected to form a framework of triangles, the most structurally stable geometric form. A straight cord forms the top of each side. This type of truss bridge is practical for use with spans up to 250 feet in length, and was widely used by railway companies and for highway bridge construction.

Hextall was responsible for the construction of this bridge which involved obtaining the necessary permits, contracting the construction of the abutments and piers and obtaining the superstructure from the Algoma Steel Bridge Company.

The bridge is a landmark in the Bowness and Montgomery areas both currently and historically. Since the original development of the Bowness community, the bridge has served as a gateway to the community. Historically, it was one of the few built features in what was otherwise a rural and mostly undeveloped area and served as both a road and street railway bridge. During the era that the street railway connected Bowness to Calgary (1912-50), it became known to generations of Calgarians who traversed the line, via the bridge, to Bowness Park, an immensely popular leisure and resort area.

Until the adjacent replacement bridge was built in 1986 the historic bridge functioned as the community gateway, being the Bowness Road link over the Bow River. Since its replacement, the bridge has remained in use by users of the Bow River pathway system for bicycles and pedestrians. Its distinctive design and presence continues its role as a visual gateway and landmark feature to the communities of Montgomery and Bowness.

Additionally, the bridge was an important component of the street-railway system to Bowness. The street-railway system enabled transportation activity that was integral to the development of the city, and particularly to Bowness; the bridge is one of a small number of infrastructure elements that remain to recall the street-railway system.

Character Defining Elements:
The character-defining elements of the property include, but are not limited to:

- Three-span, Pratt through-truss bridge with sides that comprise a framework of steel structural elements, in a triangular arrangement, connected at the top;
- the maker's plates at each end of the bridge with "Algoma Steel Bridge Company";
- Two concrete poured-in-place abutments;
- Two concrete poured-in-place piers;
- its original placement at the location.

Sources
Occupants (Henderson's Directory Search):
NA

Owners (Historical Title Search):
NA

Additional Sources:
Bowness Historical Society, Bowness: Our Village in the Valley, Calgary 2005. pp. 19-33 and 51-59. These pages provide background information on John Hextall and his negotiations with the city for the extension of the street railway.

Hatcher, Colin. Stampede City Streetcars The Story of the Calgary Municipal Railway. Montreal: Railfare Enterprises, 1975. pp. 27-28 These pages outline the beginning and expansion of the street railway system

Welin, R.A. Bridges of Calgary 1882 - 1977 Calgary: City of Calgary. 1977. p 41. This source provides construction details on the Hextall bridge

Primary Sources

City of Calgary Corporate Records

Agreement 318 Agreement with John Hextall March 1911. This source documents the agreement between John Hextall and the City of Calgary for the extension of the street railway to Bowness
Mitchell outlining proposal for street railway extension to Bowness.

City Clerk's Papers File 297 Correspondence between City Clerk and City Solicitor D.S. Moffat October 28 - September 20, 1911 regarding the construction of Bowness extension of the street railway.

City of Calgary Papers File 227 which documents the negotiations between John Hextall and the City of Calgary for the extension of the Street Railway to his development in Bowness, the transfer of the bridge across the Bow River to the City of Calgary.

Map from City of Calgary Papers File 227 which shows route of street railway indicated along with John Hextall Bridge

Newspapers
Morning Albertan June 29 1911 advertisement by John Hextall regarding use of his bridge

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
51.078845,-114.172158

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