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Waubaushene Bridge

Duck Bay Road Bridge

Waubaushene Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 21, 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Duck Bay Road Over Matchedash Bay
Waubaushene: Simcoe County, Ontario: Canada
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

This heritage bridge was demolished and replaced in 2015!

This bridge is a very unique structure. It consists of three pony truss spans, which is rare because most multi-span bridges are through truss bridges. The two northern spans of the bridge consist of five panels each, while the southern span only has four panels. According to Tay Township, the bridge's trusses were relocated and placed on a new substructure here at Duck Bay Road in 1927. The spans were reported to have been brought from a swing bridge over the narrows at Atherley, Ontario that was replaced that year. Since the spans at Duck Bay Road are traditional fixed truss spans, it is presumed they were the approach spans for the swing bridge. Tay Township reports that the Atherley Bridge was built in 1887. This leads to some confusion since the Duck Bay Road Bridge spans do not appear to be 1887 spans. Based on their style, they date to ca. 1905-1910. It is possible that during the history of the 1887 bridge, some of the spans were damaged or deteriorated and then replaced in the early 20th Century. This would further explain why the spans were relocated and reused in 1927: they would not have been that old.

The Duck Bay Road Bridge has a distinctive appearance due to the notable grade that the end spans have to ensure that the center span has enough clearance for boats. It is not possible to see one end of the bridge from the other end. Also, to ensure safety on the narrow bridge with a poor view of oncoming traffic, the bridge is treated as a one-lane bridge with traffic being controlled by a stop light signal.

Information and Findings From Tay Township


The bridge has stayed structurally the same. The concrete road has changed to being paved. It is still a one lane bridge and is controlled by traffic lights on each side to direct the traffic. The steel-iron rails are still in place and the steel support underneath along with the concrete support pillars anchored in the water. Maintenance has been performed on the bridge every year to keep it safe for drivers. Renovations were in prospect for the bridge to be updated but these plans have been revised as they would alter the historical and architectural value of the bridge.


Before the bridge was built, people had to travel by way of Coldwater around Matchedash Bay. The Georgian Bay Lumber Company would not allow construction of a bridge linking Waubaushene with the other side of the bay because it would obstruct the movement of tugs and barges in front of their mills. The school children came by boat in the summer or across the ice in the winter. The Federal Government was petitioned in 1882, 1885 and 1905 by Simcoe County to build a bridge. It wasn't until the closing of the mills in 1927 that grant money was obtained. The bridge came from Atherley. It was a swing bridge which had served Atherley for 40 years. The Text Box: community donated labour, horse power and material to help construct the bridge. Peter Gouett donated the land on the Waubaushene side for the bridge to be built and Henry Gouett's horse and buggy was the first vehicle to cross the bridge. The ribbon was cut on June 11, 1927 by Honourable William Finlayson who was the Provincial Minister of Lands and Forests and the MP from Midland. Bands played, children marched and at night the residents held a dance.

The bridge played a key part in the redevelopment of Tay's commerce after the lumber industry died and the development of the new tourism industry grew. The bridge opened markets to the settlers to the north, and allowed tourists access through Waubaushene from the south. Up until about twenty years ago the bridge was open to two way traffic. Today, of course, stop lights control traffic one direction at a time.


Prior to the erection of the Waubaushene bridge, to travel north from Waubaushene by land one had to go through Coldwater and around Matchedash Bay.

The Georgian Bay Lumber Co., who at the time owned much of the land in Waubaushene, would not allow a bridge to be built across the bay, as it would get in the way of their tugs and barges. In order to cross the bay to go to school, children used skates in the winter and boats in the summer.

In 1882 and 1885, the county sent petitions to the federal government requesting that a bridge be constructed across the narrows. In 1905, another appeal was made, with local farmers offering to supply free team and work labour. Finally, in 1927, after the Lumber Company had closed down, a grant was secured for the construction of the bridge. The bridge itself was moved from Atherley, where it had originally been built as a swing bridge over the narrows in 1887. It was one of the first iron bridges built in Ontario. Mr. William Finlayson cut the ribbon at the opening of the bridge on June 7, 1927. The first vehicle to drive across it was a buggy driven by Harry Gouett and his sister Loretta (above right), and the Russels were the first to cross in a car (above left). The bridge played a big part in opening up transportation routes into Waubaushene, which became increasingly important as tourism took over as a leading industry.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Waubaushene Bridge


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Maps and Links: Waubaushene Bridge

This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.

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