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Gow's Bridge

Gow's Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 19, 2013

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
McCrae Boulevard Over Speed River
Guelph: Wellington County, Ontario: Canada
Structure Type
Stone Segmental Deck Arch, Fixed and Approach Spans: Concrete Closed Spandrel Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1897 By Builder/Contractor: Daniel Keleher
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
135.2 Feet (41.2 Meters)
Roadway Width
18.7 Feet (5.7 Meters)
2 Main Span(s) and 1 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge is an excellent and rare example of a stone arch bridge in Ontario. Few examples of this bridge type remain in Ontario. This example retains good historic integrity, although a small northern concrete arch span has been added. The original stone spans appear to be largely unaltered from their original design. The bridge appears to be well-maintained, and it is a recognized heritage bridge.

Above: Historical photo.

Information and Findings From Canada's Historic Places

Description of Historic Place

Gow's Bridge spans the Speed River on the west side of Royal City Park. This stone bridge continues to serve both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Gow's Bridge has been designated by the City of Guelph under By-Law (1990)-13471. The designation covers all elements of the south and middle spans of the bridge and the piers, all of which are of stone construction, as well as the concrete foundations, but does not include the more recent north span.

Heritage Value

Gow's Bridge has been designated by the City of Guelph as having historic and architectural value. This stone arch bridge remains as the only surviving example of several stone bridges which once crossed Guelph's rivers. The bridge was built for the City Council in 1897 by Daniel Keleher, a local contractor. It replaced a wooden bridge constructed at this site in 1852 to circumvent the toll bridges on the Guelph and Dundas Roads.

Both the new and old bridges were known locally as Gow's Bridge due to their location beside Gow's Mill, a woolen mill and tannery owned by the prominent Guelph businessman and politician Peter Gow. Gow was elected Mayor of Guelph in 1866, was the first representative of South Wellington in the Provincial Legislative Assembly, serving from 1867 until 1876, and was then appointed Sheriff of Wellington County.

Today this unique remnant of Guelph's stone heritage lends considerable charm and character to one of the city's largest public parks.

Character-Defining Elements

Key character defining elements that embody the value of the bridge as an example of stone bridge construction include its:
- locally quarried limestone construction
- two-arch design with low stone walls and stone piers

Key character defining elements that embody the contextual value of the bridge as a bypass for the toll-charging bridge network along the Guelph-Dundas Road include its:
- continued access for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic
- location west of the former main access Guelph-Dundas road

Heritage Designation and Type: Yes


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