The Floating and Pile Bridges

Transcribed from notes found in the Sharbot Lake Public Library. The photos were also found in the library except where otherwise noted.

The first bridge crossed the “Narrows” between Upper and Lower Sharbot Lake. The local people called it the “floating” bridge. Mrs. Annie Shanks said there was a ramp at the southern end, to allow small boats, canoes and row boats to go through.

Photo Courtesy of the Gary Cooke Collection – Floating bridge with ramp.

There were timbers about 20 ft. long that held the Floating bridge to the railroad bridge. On the high ground above the bridge can be seen the Methodist Church with Allen’s home in front. The Doctor’s House and later the Hillcrest Inn can be seen to the right of the church. Photo taken circa 1880’s – 1920’s.

Photo courtesy of Harold Donnelly. The floating bridge is in the distance.

The floating bridge was built before 1876 to take supplies across to be used for the railway causeway, according to Mel Good of Parham, whose grandfather, John Good (1852-1928), was one of the builders.

The floating bridge was built of cedar, and one villager recalled that “when you were driving cattle across, it would go clean out of sight”.

About 1920, the floating bridge was being replaced with a pile driven bridge. Some of the piles were 80 feet long. The pile driver was Jack Huffman of the CPR Bridge & Building gang. Too narrow and not strong enough to carry loads, the pile bridge lasted only seven years.

The filling for the present bridge [causeway] began about 1926, taking two winters and one summer to complete. The rock was drawn from St. George’s Lake, Black Lake and all along the shore of the nearby lower lake. Farmers were paid a dollar a yard to haul all the rock with horses.

Both sides were filled first, and then the old bridge was cut in two so they could fill the centre portion. While this was taking place, the bridge collapsed halting traffic for ten days.

One story is told that when they blasted along the shore to obtain rock, the stones fell on the ice cutters and were imbedded in the blocks of ice, interfering with the saws.

One night in spring, all the fill from the winters haul just sank out of sight, providing a foundation for the replacement.

July 6, 1928, was set for the official opening. The Hon. George S. Henry cut the ribbon on behalf of the Department of Highways. The three general stores, Thomson’s, Buell’s and Bruce’s, as well as Mike Simbor’s Shoe Repair, all closed for the event. Even the Creamery locked its doors for the first time on a summer day in history. The entire population came out for the ceremony.