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Sewells Road Bridge

Sewells Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 23, 2012

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Sewells Road Over Rouge River
Toronto: Toronto City, Ontario: Canada
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1912 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown and Engineer/Design: Frank Barber of Toronto, Ontario

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
100 Feet (30.5 Meters)
Structure Length
160 Feet (48.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

This bridge is an extremely rare example of a suspension bridge in Ontario, particularly a small-scale example. Suspension bridges were generally used for the largest of spans, and their use in shorter crossings like this one were generally limited. This bridge is also noteworthy for a product of noted local engineer Frank Barber.

This bridge today suffers from a substantial loss of original material and historic integrity. The bridge was rehabilitated, however this rehabilitation replaced a majority of the original bridge material, and in some cases did not replace it with a replica of the original. Based on HistoricBridges.org's observations, it appears that the only original material on this bridge is the posts for the towers (the tower bracing is not original) and possibly the anchorages that the main cables attach to. The substructure may also be original. The original stiffening truss has been removed and replaced. The original stiffening truss featured riveted connections, reflecting the period in which it was constructed. The replacement stiffening truss uses the same double-intersection Warren truss design as the original and also uses angles to compose the truss web, just like the original. However the replacement trusses use the modern method of welding for connections. Also, a horizontal bar that ran through the middle of the stiffening truss a short distance above the intersection of the diagonals has been omitted in the replacement stiffening truss. The bridge also originally had four concrete posts at each corner of the bridge which the main cables ran through. These concrete posts have been removed and replaced. The replacement posts are more like saddles, where the cable simply rests on top of a guide in the post. The main cables also appear to have been replaced. The replacement main cables appear to be composed of smaller cable bundles twisted together, and do not match the twisting pattern of the original cables.

As seen today, the bridge remains a rare example of its type, and it still provide a certain degree of interpretive value into the engineering thinking of Frank Barber and early 20th Century engineering. However, it would have been nice to see a greater effort put toward maintaining the original material of the bridge during rehabilitation, and when something needed to be replaced, it would be nicer to see if replaced with an exact replica.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Sewells Road Bridge

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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
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 Video
Northbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Southbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.


Maps and Links: Sewells Road Bridge

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