West Montrose Covered Bridge (Kissing Bridge) West Montrose Ontario
1232 Rivers Edge Dr, West Montrose, ON N0B 2V0
The Last Covered Bridge in Ontario
The clatter of hoofbeats and the groaning of a wagon wheel echo among the wooden rafters of the old covered bridge. A scene for a western movie? No, an everyday even at West Montrose, 15 kilometers North of Waterloo, jut off Regional Road 22.
The area is heavily populated by the Old Order, “horse and buggy” Mennonites, and use these black-garbed traditionalists frequently guide their horse-drawn wagons or buggies through what is Ontario’s last covered bridge.
In an era when wood was less expensive and commonly used for bridge construction, walls and roofs were often added to prevent the deterioration caused by rain and heavy snow. Despite the utility and popularity of this style in eastern Canada, Ontario’s British army road builders steered clear of it, and fewer then a dozen such bridges were built in this province. The one at West Montrose is the only survivor.
Built in 1881 by a Mennonite barn builder named John Baer, it remained the only crossing in the area until 1960, when a new concrete structure was completed less then a kilometer away. The bridge measures 60 metres long, and was illuminated by twenty shuttered windows and coal-oil lanterns, later replaced by electric lights. A feature rarely found on the other covered bridges is the 1.8 metre overhand above each entrance.
To allow continued use of the historic structure, truss reinforcements have been added to the inside, the roof has been re-shingled and the substructure replaced. To complement this postcard scene, the village of Montrose, huddled around the western approach to the bridge, has retained many of its simple nineteenth century buildings. A part of the pioneer Ontario can be seen and heard at the Wet Montrose bridge.
The Grand River boasts many heritage bridges along it’s 300-kilometre course. In fact, the river contains Ontario’s greatest concentration of historic bowstring bridges, with graceful arches above the road. The longest is the eight-arch bridge in Caledonia, while six-arch structures span the river in Freeport and Bridgeport.
Information Source: From Author Ron Brown and his book the “Top 150 most unusual things to see in Ontario”