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Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge

High Level Bridge

Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: December 25, 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
York Boulevard Over Desjardins Canal
Hamilton: Hamilton City, Ontario: Canada
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1932 By Builder/Contractor: Hamilton Bridge Company of Hamilton, Ontario and Engineer/Design: James, Proctor, and Redfern of Toronto, Ontario
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
365.0 Feet (111.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
54 Feet (16.46 Meters)
3 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View An Archived Article Discussing This Bridge's History

This landmark bridge is one of the most unique and significant bridges in this area. An impressive cantilever deck truss, this bridge is technologically significant as an excellent surviving example of this complex bridge type. The bridge contains a carefully concealed suspended span in the center of the bridge that blends in with the rest of the truss. This is a bridge that was designed to be a beautiful and iconic gateway structure. The graceful arch shapes of the cantilever truss help accomplish this. The bridge also features four massive limestone faced pylons at each corner, with coat of arms sculptures and decorative patterns cast into them. These pylons have openings in them that were designed to accept statues that were never made, so these remain empty to this day. The railings on this bridge are a unique ornate design of metal panels and concrete posts that at the end of the bridge terminate in a short second of solid concrete railing, which is also decoratively designed. Even period utilitarian features of the bridge contribute to this bridge's aesthetic qualities. The bridge's many riveted built-up beams contain v-lacing and lattice which  was designed to hold the parts of the built-up beams together. However, the v-lacing and lattice also give the members an airy open appearance and they also contribute to the beautifully complex geometric art that the trusses of this bridge display.

This bridge retains good overall historic integrity. The decorative elements of the bridge including railing remain as built. The truss in general is largely unaltered from its original design and appearance, although the suspended span of the truss appears to have been repaired extensively. Numerous rivets have been replaced with bolts in this area

Originally named the High Level Bridge, this bridge was renamed to honor Thomas Baker McQuesten who was the Minister of Highways and a resident of Hamilton that played a major role in making this bridge a reality. The bridge is today a recognized heritage bridge and it has been rehabilitated in the past with a focus on preserving its heritage value.

This bridge is located at an area that has been home to many bridges, some of which remain standing today, some of which no longer remain. Three of the bridges remaining today, including the High Level Bridge, have heritage value. One interesting feature of the High Level Bridge is it actually crosses over another heritage bridge, the Desjardins Canal Railway Bridge, which passes under the bridge at an angle. This railway bridge is older than the current High Level Bridge. The third heritage bridge is the nearby low level Longwood Bridge, a concrete arch bridge that was built just prior to the construction of the current High Level Bridge, and helped serve as a detour during its construction.

The previous High Level Bridge at this location was an impressive spandrel braced metal deck arch with a trussed rib. The bridge also featured deck truss approach spans. Two images of this bridge are shown below.

Information and Findings From Hamilton's Heritage Bridge Structure Assessment Report

Asset/Bridge ID: 310-1148
Date of survey: 25/7/02
Built heritage inventory file no: 601310
Heritage Evaluation Score and Grade: 77,A

Builder/engineer if known: Hamilton Bridge Works, E.P. Muntz

Construction material(s) and Details: This steel and concrete structure is heavily decorated and
shows few signs of deterioration. The massive pylons at both end of the structure are decorated with
the City's coat of arms.

Integrity: The structure has been well maintained and shows no signs of alteration.

Historical associations: This structure is the most popular and thoroughly documented structure in
the City of Hamilton. Great amounts of information exist on the development of the plans, the
lobbyists for its construction, and details of its design. It brief, the structure was the result of a work
project during the Depression and a plan for civic beautification. Many debates surrounded the
planning for the structure, which resulted in a much scaled down version of the original conception.
None the less it stands as a prominent landmark and culture icon in the City of Hamilton. It has been
dedicated to Thomas Baker McQueston, for his role in not only the lobbying for the bridges
construction, but also his political contributions in other areas of the city government.

Notes: This structure scored exceptionally well on the heritage evaluation. The age, materials,
associations, aesthetics, and design characteristics of the structure contributed greatly to the
heritage value of the structure. This structure is regarded as both a landmark and a gateway to the
City of Hamilton.

Documentation: Written records for this structure can be located in many areas. Public libraries,
government websites, and local archives have information surrounding the various aspects of the
bridge. This site contains a detailed history of this structure


Photo Galleries and Videos: Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge


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