Canada

In my perambulations around the world searching for Millennium Bridges, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the United Kingdom and Ireland are the only countries which have really seized the opportunity afforded by the Millennium for creating outstanding examples of the engineer's art. The two examples of Millennium Bridges which I unearthed in British Columbia proved to be small and totally functional bridges of no great beauty or merit, one in the Delta Municipal District of Greater Vancouver, and the Barclay Crescent bridge between Qualicum Beach and Parksville on Vancouver Island. However, my visit to British Columbia was certainly not devoid of other interesting bridges. The famous Capilano Suspension Bridge in West Vancouver is certainly one; whilst in the Okanagan district, there are a number of interesting trestle bridges on the Kettle Valley Railway Trail which at 600 kilometres, must surely be one of the longest, if not the very longest railway path in the world. Whilst over the provincial border, there is an interesting bridge over the Bow River in the Prince's Island Park in Calgary. 

Barclay Crescent Bridge

French Creek runs into the Strait of Georgia on the east side of Vancouver Island and separates the two towns of Qualicum Beach and Parksville. Although not a large river, it still forms quite a barrier between the two towns, and the only crossing places are the Island Highway and the Inland Island Highway, both very busy roads. 

This functional, if slightly uninspiring, foot- and cycle-bridge was built in 2000 by the combined efforts of the local inhabitants and affords a lightly-trafficked route between two neighbouring towns. The Qualicum Beach and Regional District of Nanaimo websites both provide a little information.

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Delta Millennium Trail and Bridge

The southern part of Greater Vancouver is traversed by the many distributaries of the Fraser delta. In the Municipal District of Delta, a Millennium Trail has been constructed alongside Deas Slough just off the main branch of the Fraser River. The trail passes under the Deas Slough Bridge which carries the route 99 freeway and thence by a small Millennium Bridge over Green Slough,  to the Marina Gardens Estate.

The bridge is very plain but adequately fulfils its purpose. It was completed in 2003. 

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Capilano Suspension Bridge

The world-famous Capilano Suspension Bridge is a bit out of place on this website.  It certainly isn't millennial; the first bridge on the site was built as far back as 1890. Although it is a bridge for walkers, it certainly wouldn't accommodate cyclists; nor does it really go anywhere except to the other side and back again. The bottom line is that it is the centrepiece of an over-priced tourist theme park, attracting 850,000 visitors a year, but very spectacular for all that.

The 137 metre long bridge crosses the Capilano River in North Vancouver at a height of 70 metres above the stream bed. It was built with hemp ropes by George Grant Mackay, City Parks Commissioner in the last years of the 19th century, but replaced by a wire structure in 1903. The present bridge, the fourth on the site, was built in 1956. It differs from the great majority of suspension bridges in that the deck itself hangs in a catenary curve, the suspension cables forming the handrails.

A recent addition to the park is the Treetops Adventure, a series of wire bridges suspended in the treetops on the west side of the gorge.

 

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Kettle Valley Railway

The Kettle Valley Railway must be one of the world's longest rail trails. The length of the trail is variously quoted at 450 or 600 km (perhaps the latter is with branches) which makes our British equivalents like the Bristol and Bath, and the Consett and Sunderland look pretty puny. The trail runs on a very sinuous course through the southern part of British Columbia keeping close to the US border, from Hope in the west to Midway in the east; at its eastern end it links to the Columbia and Western Railway Trail through to Castlegar. The last part of the line was closed to rail traffic in 1990, although a restoration project now operates trains over a short section in the Okanagan region.

Although the continuity of the trail is broken in places, it affords a superb walking and cycling trail which is a vital component of the Trans Canada Trail.

Of particular interest are the trestle bridges. Although these have all been rebuilt, possibly many times over, they still evoke the original style of the bridges along the line. Unfortunately, the most spectacular section, where 18 trestle bridges span side gullies as the railway snakes round the Myra Canyon near Penticton, was devastated by a forest fire in 2003 which destroyed 15 of the bridges. However, this site does include two trestle bridges elsewhere on the Trail - the Andrew McCulloch bridge (2002) at Naramata on Okanagan Lake, and a bridge which crosses the south-west corner of Skaha Lake immediately north of the town of Okanagan Falls. Finally, there are some general photos of the hot and dusty trail from Naramata up to Little Tunnel which stands on a conspicuous promontory way above Okanagan Lake

Andrew McCulloch Bridge

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Skaha Lake Bridge

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Little Tunnel

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Bow River Bridge, Prince's Island Park, Calgary

One of the most central of the many parks in Calgary is Prince's Island Park. This lies just to the north of downtown Calgary and the Eau Claire Market and is linked by a bridge across a narrow creek. Originally, the island was the point where logs being floated down the Bow River were intercepted. More recently, it has been transformed into a most attractive park, hugely popular at lunchtimes in particular, with cyclists, bladers and joggers. From the northern side of the park, the Bow River Bridge crosses the river of the same name to the north shore. In the last three years, the park has been given a "facelift", although this facelift has unfortunately not been extended as yet to the bridge which is looking a little shabby.

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