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King Street Bridge

King Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: June 20, 2013

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Go, Canadian National) Over King Street
Toronto: Toronto City, Ontario: Canada
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1888 By Builder/Contractor: Hamilton Bridge Company of Hamilton, Ontario and Engineer/Design: Charles Sproatt
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
2 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This extremely old and highly unusual bridge is a grade separation bridge that allows King Street to pass under a set of railroad tracks. The bridge provides for four sets of railroad tracks, which cross King Street at a very heavy skew. This results in a bridge that is extremely wide and driving under it is like driving through a tunnel. Back when they were built, bridges like this were sometimes called "subways."

This bridge is unusual because at the western end, a through plate girder is present, while at the eastern end, a rare double-intersection Warren pony truss is present. Normally, one would expect to find the same superstructure on each side. However, because of the extreme width of this bridge as well as its extreme skew, the bridge appears to function as three different bridges. The pony truss and girder both appear to support their respected sides of the bridge deck. In between however, it appears the bridge is supported by longitudinal stringers since in the middle, beams can be run efficiently from abutment to abutment without regard to the skew. The truss and girder both take care of the portions of the deck that angle out as a result of the skew. In this way, different parts of the deck are supported by different bridge types: girder, truss, and stringer (beam). This unique design contributes to the heritage significance of the bridge.

The truss portion of this bridge is an extremely rare example of a double-intersection Warren pony truss. Constructed in 1888, the truss is one of the oldest known rivet-connected truss bridges in Ontario. The bridge overall is significant as well for its age, an old example of any type of metal bridge in Ontario. The substructure is also noteworthy, as it is composed of a beautiful stone bent and stone abutments. The end piers have the plaque for the bridge, which frustratingly has been insensitively covered up by road signage. It would be nice to see this signage positioned away from the pier so the plaque could be easily read.

B. Gibson of Toronto, Ontario was listed as a contractor for the bridge, as was the Hamilton Bridge Company. The Hamilton Bridge Company undoubtedly fabricated the steel superstructure. Gibson may have built the substructure and/or acted as a general contractor for the on-site erection of the steel superstructure.

Information About Engineer Charles Sproatt From Obituary

Charles Sproatt was born in Toronto on the 21st of June, 1835, and educated at Upper Canada College. After leaving college he entered on the study of his profession with Mr. John A. Tully, Civil Engineer and Provincial Land Surveyor. Upon the completion of his studies he accepted a position on the G. T. Ry. construction work, west of Toronto, with Mr. Frank Shanly, C.E. In 1869 he was appointed Asst. Engineer on the location of the Toronto, Grey & Bruce Ry., and afterwards appointed Division Engineer on construction, and in 1871 he was appointed Asst. Engineer of the entire road under Mr. Wragge. He occupied this position until 1877, when he was appointed Asst. Engineer under Mr. Frank Shanly, City Engineer of Toronto, to make the necessary surveys for the proposed Trunk sewer. In 1878 he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Georgian Bay and Wellington Ry, upon the completion of which he went to the North-West and had charge of a party on the C.P.R. Division through the Rocky Mountains. He was then employed on the right of way for the same Company through the prairies. He afterwards went into partnership in the North-West, the firm being Gossage, Sproatt and Thompson. In 1883 he was appointed City Engineer of Toronto, which position he held until 1889, when, owing to failing health, he was given leave of absence and went for a trip to Europe. On his return, although his health was still far from good, he accepted a position as Deputy City Engineer, but, owing to continued bad health, he resigned his position and moved with his family to the North-West Territories, and died at Innisfail, N.W.T., on December 27, 1395. His failing health was no doubt directly attributable to the arduous and continuous work and worry during the six years he was City Engineer of Toronto. It was during this period that the real estate "boom " was at its height, and the work thrown upon Mr. Sproatt's shoulders was very onerous and responsible. During his term as City Engineer he constructed some very important works, amongst others the King Street subway and the Don River improvements. MrSproatt was universally liked by those with whom he was associated professionally. His amiable disposition and willingness to assist others endeared him to all. He was elected a member of the Can. Soc. C.Eon January 20, 1887.

Source: Transactions of then Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, Jan-June, 1895


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