As a pre-1900 bridge, this bridge is among the oldest metal bridges in Ontario. However, it is the design of this bridge that makes it an extremely unusual and significant bridge in Canada. This bridge is perhaps one of the simplest and shortest expressions possible of a cantilever truss bridge. The bridge has a main post above each of the two piers. On either side of each main post there are simple two panel trusses, one leading to an abutment and functioning as an anchor arm and one leading to a suspended span and functioning as a cantilever arm. The suspended span itself is merely a short steel stringer span. The bridge is a rare example of a pre-1900 cantilever truss, and also of a small-scale cantilever truss. Its pin connections are also rare in Ontario, despite the fact that Waterloo Region still retains several pin connected truss bridges. The bridge retains good historic integrity. There appear to have been repairs to the bearings and connections along the bottom chord at the piers. Otherwise, the bridge is largely unaltered. The bridge retains ornate builder plaques on top of the single overhead bracing which runs between the main posts.
The Central Bridge and Engineering Company was incorporated in 1892. William H. Law was the engineer and managing director for the company.
Under HistoricBridges.org's own Historic Significance Rating system, the bridge is assigned a Nine (9) rating on both the national and local level. This reflects the bridge's unusual design, early construction date among surviving bridges, documented builder, and good historic integrity.
This bridge was not evaluated in the Waterloo Region Heritage Bridge Inventory. As such, HistoricBridges.org evaluated the bridge using the same 1991 Ontario Heritage Bridge Program rating system employed in the Heritage Bridge Inventory, to see where the bridge might have ranked in this system had it been inventoried in that study. HistoricBridges.org came out with a total score/rating of Seventy (70) points. Heritage Bridge scores range from 50 up to generally 78. The methodology used is outlined below.
Builder: The builder is known, however only two examples of this company are identified by HistoricBridges.org. The company appears to have engaged in substantial non-bridge work including work involving the Trent-Severn Canal. Two (2) points.
Age: The bridge was built in 1896. Twelve (12) points.
Material: Unknown. The bridge could be built of steel or wrought iron. If of wrought iron, four (4) points can be added. Currently, zero (0) points are assigned.
Design/style: This bridge is presumed to be the only one of its kind, and thus unique. Cantilever trusses were normally reserved for extremely long spans, such as the St. Lawrence River. The use of this complex structure type for a short crossing is most unusual. It may have been designed as a cantilever to provide an unusual design for visitors to enjoy looking at. It is also worth noting that the bridge's design allows for views while standing on center suspended span to be unobstructed by any truss members. Perhaps this was a design consideration. A simple through or pony truss would have had vertical and diagonal members at all locations throughout the span. Unique design: Sixteen (16) points.
Prototype: The bridge is an extremely early surviving example of a cantilever truss bridge in North America. Most remaining examples date to after 1900. However, earlier and larger examples of cantilever truss bridges existed in 1896 in Canada including the 1884 Cisco Bridge and the 1883 Niagara River Bridge. The Cisco Bridge still remains standing in a new location on Vancouver Island. Zero (0) points.
Structural integrity: There are extremely minor alterations limited specifically to the bottom chord at the piers, and these changes would go unnoticed by the majority of observers. These alterations do not qualify as "significant modifications" Otherwise, the bridge appears to retain outstanding historic integrity with no "significant modifications." Ten (10) points.
Visual appeal: The complex design of this bridge makes it an attraction in the park. It is not of simple, mundane design. Also, the cantilever design allows for views of the park unobstructed by truss members at the center suspended span. Thus, the bridge is fitted admirably to its particular site. Additionally, the bridge has ornamentation in the form of decorative builder and engineer plaques mounted proudly atop the overhead bracing. Twelve (12) points.
Integrity: The bridge is in its original location and serving its original purpose, park foot traffic. Four (4) points.
Landmark: The bridge is a visual landmark and perhaps even a centerpiece of this major park in Kitchener. It is near the center of the Victoria Park Lake, itself a landmark in the park. Six (6) points.
Gateway: The bridge functions as a gateway to Roos Island in the middle of Victoria Park Lake. Roos Island is home to the park's bandstand. Four (4) points.
Character Contribution: The bridge contributes to the character of Victoria Park as an old park with heritage value in Kitchener. Four (4) points.
Historical Associations: The bridge has no known historical associations. Zero (0) points.
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