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Reconciliation Bridge

Langevin Bridge

Reconciliation 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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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
4th Street Over Bow River
Calgary: Calgary, Alberta: Canada
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1910 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
190.0 Feet (57.9 Meters)
Structure Length
382.5 Feet (116.6 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
2 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This is an attractive two span truss bridge in good condition in Calgary. This bridge was recognized with a Calgary Heritage Authority plaque in 2014. The bridge was originally named for Sir Hector-Louis Langevin but renamed to Reconciliation Bridge.

Information and Findings From Calgary Historic Resources

Discussion of Bridge

Reconciliation Bridge
Alternate Names: formerly Langevin Bridge
Address: 0 4 AV SE - View map
Year of Construction: 1910
Resource Type: City Wide Historic Resource
Original Use Type: Transport
Original Use SubType: Bridge
Architectural Style: N/A
Architect: Canadian Bridge Company
Builder: Province of Alberta - Department of Public Works
Provincial Master Plan Theme: Transportation
Development Era: 1906 to 1913 (Pre WWI Boom, Age of Optimism)
Legal Description: N/A
Other Significant Dates: 1888- 1910 - original wooden bridge sat adjacent to the location of the current bridge. 1950s removal of street railway tracks. 2017 Official renaming of the bridge. Recommendations of the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Advisory Committee (CAUAC) in White Goose Flying, A Report to Calgary City Council on the Indian Residential School Truth and Reconciliation (White Goose Flying Report) which included a recommendation to address the name of the Langevin Bridge.

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

Significance Summary:
It is a representative example of a Parker Camelback through-truss, steel bridge, which was the most frequently used design for bridges built in Calgary from 1905 to 1912. It is the third oldest of four surviving examples of this type of bridge in Calgary. (Design Value - Community Significance)

It marks an ancient crossing of the Bow River used by the First Nations as part of the Old North Trail and from 1885-88 the primary Bow River Ferry crossing; it perpetuates this historic transportation route. (Symbolic Value - City Wide Significance)

Historically this bridge crossing allowed Calgary to be a distribution centre for a hinterland north of the Bow River following the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It remained part of the primary highway route north from Calgary to Edmonton (via highway No. 2) until the Deerfoot Trail was constructed in the late 1960s (Symbolic Value - City Wide Significance)

As a component of the street railway route, it is one of three historic crossings of the Bow River which enabled the expansion of Calgary's urban area north of the river during Calgary's early Twentieth Century boom (1909-13) and subsequently enabled the extension of the system to Tuxedo Park, and was part of a loop which followed Edmonton Trail, 16th Avenue and 10th Street NW via the Hillhurst (Louise) Bridge. (Symbolic Value - City Wide Significance)

It is a landmark due to its long-standing and integral function as a primary transportation link. It is familiar to many drivers, pedestrians and transit riders from the era of the streetcars and those today. It is distinctive in appearance and it's a 'gateway' feature to both Bridgeland - Riverside and downtown Calgary (Landmark Value - Community Significance)

Statement of Significance
Reconciliation Bridge, built in 1910 is a 116.58-meter-long and 14.02-meter-wide, two-span, Parker Camelback, riveted-steel through-truss bridge on a concrete substructure made up of one pier and two abutments. The bridge permits 4th Street North East to cross the Bow River and connects the communities of Bridgeland - Riverside to the downtowns area.

Heritage Value:
The heritage value of the bridge derives from its design as a Parker, Camelback through-truss bridge made of steel. It was the most frequently used design for bridges built in Calgary from 1905 to 1912 by both the city of Calgary and the Province of Alberta. It is the third oldest of four surviving examples of this type of bridge in Calgary. It was constructed in 1910 to accommodate the street railway. Its design was developed by American Civil Engineer Charles H. Parker as a modified version of a Pratt truss bridge, which had been the most popular type of standardized bridge. The design was popular throughout North America because less material was required in its construction while allowing it to maintain the same strength as a through Pratt truss bridge of the same length.

The bridge holds symbolic value as the location of an ancient crossing of the Bow River on the Old North Trail, an ancient aboriginal transportation corridor; it perpetuates this historic transportation route. When Fort Calgary was established in 1875, a section of the Old North Trail became Macleod Trail, the main supply route between Fort Calgary, Fort Macleod and Fort Benton further south in Montana. Between 1883 and 1888 the site of the bridge was the site of the primary ferry crossing across the Bow in Calgary. The first bridge in this location, named after Minister of Public Works Hector Langevin, went into use in February 1888. It permitted Calgary to enhance its position as a distribution centre for a hinterland north of the Bow following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was the first link in a road transportation system north to Edmonton and beyond which included the Calgary and Edmonton Trail, the Low Level Bridge across the North Saskatchewan in Edmonton and the Athabasca Trail north of Edmonton. The present bridge remained part of the main highway route extending north of Calgary until the construction of the Deerfoot Trail in the late 1960s.

The present bridge built in 1910 was one of three crossing of the Bow River instrumental in the expansion of Calgary north of the Bow River during the Boom between 1909 and 1913. It was used to extend the street railway north to the new subdivision of Tuxedo Park via the Calgary and Edmonton Trail. The bridge permitted the establishment of a street railway loop which followed the Calgary and Edmonton Trail, 16th Avenue, 10th Street system and the Hillhurst (Louise) Bridge.

The bridge is a landmark due to its long-standing and integral function as a primary transportation link; its distinctive appearance; and its `gateway' status as an entry feature to Bridgeland-Riverside and Downtown Calgary. Historically it was familiar to streetcar passengers, pedestrians, and motorists; it retains its familiarity with transit users, pedestrians and motorists due to heavy usage. Community appreciation of the bridge is evident, with its inclusion as part of a historic walking tour prepared by the Community Association.

Character Defining Elements:
The character-defining elements of Reconciliation Bridge included its
- Two-span superstructure of steel lattice girder I beams and tie rods arranged in triangles with a curved top cord;
- 1.5 meter steel sidewalks on either side of the superstructure with a lattice balustrade; and
- historic location marking the original crossing of the Bow River.

Additional Sources:
Primary Sources
Province of Alberta Transportation Department Bridge File 555. This file documents the establishment of the crossing in 1888 and the construction of the 1910 bridge by the Canadian Bridge Company.
Glenbow Library and Archives photographs NA-114-1, NA-1785-1, NA-2003-114, NA-2399-95, NA-2524-1 and 2, NA-4081-10 and ND-8-259.

Secondary Sources
Region of Waterloo. Spanning the Generations: A Study of Old Bridges in Waterloo Region. Waterloo: Planning Housing and Community Services Department, 2007.
Welin, R.A. Bridges of Calgary 1882 - 1977 Calgary: City of Calgary, 1977. P. 22
Calgary Board of Education. Calgary Bridges Teachers Resources & Field Guide Board of Education. 1999.
Steinman. David B. and Sara Ruth Watson. Bridges and Their Builders. New York, Dover Publications, 1957.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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