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Middle Road Bridge

Sherway Drive Bridge

Middle Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: July 23, 2012 and September 27, 2015

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Sherway Drive (Former Middle Road) Over Etobicoke Creek
Location
Mississauga and Toronto: Peel Region, Ontario and Toronto City, Ontario: Canada
Structure Type
Concrete Rainbow Through Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1909 By Builder/Contractor: O.L. Hicks of Humber Bay, Ontario and Engineer/Design: Frank Barber of Toronto, Ontario

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
86 Feet (26.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
14 Feet (4.27 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Historical Biographies of Frank Barber

View A Historical Article About This Bridge

This is one of the oldest and most unique concrete bridges in Canada. The bridge defies classification. It has been described as a concrete truss, and also as a concrete arch. If defined as an arch it must be noted that it is a spandrel braced arch, meaning it is an arch bridge that has diagonal members. In favor of the truss description is that fact that the top chord / arch rib is not perfectly curved, but instead has a polygonal appearance to it, where a curve is generated by a series of straight beams at different angles. Also in favor of the truss description are the presence of diagonal members. In favor of the concrete arch description is the fact that there is no defined end post as in a truss, rather the top chord / arch rib maintains a constant arc from abutment to abutment. Also in favor of the concrete arch theory is the exceeding rarity of concrete truss bridges worldwide. Finally, it is possible that, like bowstring truss bridges of the 1870s, that the bridge incorporates a combination of arch and truss thinking into its design.

For clarity, HistoricBridges.org currently describes the bridge as an arch. In particular, this helps clarify the bridge's place in history. Ignoring the diagonal members, this bridge is essentially a "rainbow arch" type of bridge, often called a concrete bowstring bridge in Canada. The bridge was built in 1909. Another rainbow arch built in this year is the Benson Street Bridge in Ohio. Both of these bridges were built before James Barney Marsh patented his design for what is called a Marsh arch, a type of rainbow arch. The Marsh arch bridges are generally considered to be the first bridges that made the rainbow arch type of bridge popular for a while. However, both the Benson Street and Middle Road bridges, predating his patent, certainly shows that James Marsh was not the first person to design such a bridge. As such, the Middle Road Bridge is nationally significant as a prototypical example of a rainbow arch bridge, a bridge type that enjoyed popularity in Ontario in the 1920s and 1930s.

Information and Findings From Canada's Historic Places

Description of Historic Place

The Middle Road Bridge is located at the eastern terminus of Sherway Drive and spans the Etobicoke Creek which acts as a boundary between the City of Mississauga and the City of Toronto.

Currently used as a pedestrian bridge, the Mississauga portion of the 4.3 meter wide and 26.1 meter long concrete truss bridge is recognized for its heritage value by City of Mississauga Bylaw 1101-86.

The City of Toronto (formerly City of Etobicoke) portion of the bridge is recognized for its heritage value by (former) City of Etobicoke Bylaw 1986-281.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Middle Road Bridge lies in its architectural and historical significance, and in its contextual value as an important community landmark.

Built in 1909-1910 to accommodate growing use of the Middle Road, it is the first example in Canada and second example of a reinforced concrete truss or tied arch bridge in North America. The bridge was designed by Frank Barber of Barber and Young, a prominent bridge and structural engineer from Toronto and constructed by O.L. Hicks of Humber Bay, who is recognized for his unique construction method which involved the placement of ice on concrete to slow down the setting process in order to ensure a good bond between successive pours.

Constructed on the stone abutments of a former bridge, the Middle Road Bridge is an enduring remnant of the historic Middle Road, which was a major transportation corridor connecting the former counties of York and Peel until it was surpassed by the Queen Elizabeth Way in the late 1930s. The bridge provided an important economic and social link for surrounding communities. In the early 1900s, it was used by horses, carts and cattle to cross the waterway. Later, automobiles used the bridge, although it only allowed for one lane of traffic. The bridge is now located on the edge of a quiet residential suburb. Although used only for pedestrian traffic, it continues to provide the local community with access to a commercial area on the Etobicoke side of the valley.

Middle Road Bridge is an important landmark within the community. The structure is physically prominent in its setting, and continues to be appreciated by the public. The bridge is the only remaining feature of this portion of the popular, well-travelled highway, the Middle Road.

Sources: City of Mississauaga Bylaw 1101-86; Middle Road Bridge Heritage Structure Report, City of Mississauga, 1984; City of Mississauga File CS.08.SHE 1&2

Character-Defining Elements

Key character-defining elements that embody the heritage value of the bridge as an early example of reinforced concrete truss or tied arch bridge construction include its:
- massive arched compression chords, slim vertical tension members and system of counter braces
- truss joints specially designed so that members will fail in the body rather than at the joint

Key character-defining elements that embody the contextual heritage value of the bridge as an enduring remnant of the historic Middle Road and community landmark include the bridge's:
- continued cultural and economic use as a transportation link between the former Counties of Peel and York
- location on the stone abutments of a former crossing of the Etobicoke Creek
- prominent setting at the eastern terminus of Sherway Drive in view of the Queen Elizabeth Way
- continued relationship to the adjacent natural lands of the Etobicoke Creek Valley

Heritage Designation and Type: Municipal


This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Unorganized Photos

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Middle Road Bridge

 
View Photo Gallery
2012 Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
2012 Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
2015 Additional Unorganized Photos
Original / Full Size Photos
A supplemental collection of photos that are from additional visit(s) to the bridge and have not been organized or captioned. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
2015 Additional Unorganized Photos
Mobile Optimized Photos
A supplemental collection of photos that are from additional visit(s) to the bridge and have not been organized or captioned. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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Maps and Links: Middle Road Bridge

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