CLARK'S BRIDGE A.K.A. THE IRON BRIDGE
THE STORY OF CLARK'S BRIDGE
Source: Patricia Balckom
Before continuing on describing the construction of the Iron Bridge, let us go back to when the residents of St. Gabriel used to cross the river in the ferry or scow. My father often told us about crossing in the ferry. The landing was situated below where Martial’s house is today and as he was born in 1861, and could remember crossing there, it is reasonable to suppose that the first wooden bridge was constructed in the mid 1870’s. The stone piers of the old bridge can be seen from the present bridge. Until a few years ago when the dam on the river at the power house was demolished, the old stone piers could not be seen as the dam backed the water of the Jacques Cartier up past Clark's. So the wooden bridge couldn't have been there more than twenty years, as a wooded structure, not roofed and exposed to the weather, would quickly deteriorate. This theory is borne out when we notice the frequent repairs registered in the Council Books.
This sign appeared at the entrance to the Iron Bridge some years after its construction:
10 DOLLARS FINE FOR ANYONE CAUGHT PASSING OVER THIS BRIDGE FASTER THAN A WALK
As there is no person alive today who remembers the construction of the Iron Bridge, I quote excerpts from the
Minutes Book of the Municipality of St. Gabriel West:
In answer to the second report from the Government, it was moved by Councillor Hayes, seconded by Councillor Neil that this council will assume their share of $3,200.00 to assist in the construction of an Iron Bridge over the Jacques Cartier at Valcartier, and will pay to the government their share; that is to say in two installments. The first installment of $1066.67, then when the bridge is completed an equal sum of $1,066.67 one year after the bridge is completed and that the Secretary-Treasurer take a copy of this resolution To Mr. Fitzpatrick the member for the County of Quebec.
-Passed unanimously . William Goodfellow, Sec- Treas .
Moved by Councillor Patrick Hayes, seconded by Councillor Henry McKinley that this Council accepts the Government offer regarding the New Iron bridge at Valcartier and hope that the Government will proceed with the new iron bridge as soon as possible as the old bridge is in a dangerous state.
-Passed unanimously. William Goodfellow, Sec-Treas.
After having read a letter from the Government dated 22 of December 1890, demanding the Councils of Valcartier to pay to the department of Colonization the Sum of $3800.00, it was moved by Councillor Smith, seconded by Councillor Hayes that the Secretary-Treasurer and the Mayor be authorized by the Council to borrow in the name of the Corporation the sum of $2,533.00 being the share that the Corporation have to contribute towards the new Iron Bridge at Valcartier and deposit the same with the Government.
- Passed unanimously. William Goodfellow, Sec-Treas.
To the Municipal electors or rate payers of the Municipality of St. Gabriel West.
Public Notice is hereby given that a by-law, No. 17, to borrow $2.533.33, and to levy the same with five per cent interest for two years upon all the real estate on the Municipality to pay to the Government the said $2,533.33 for the construction of the abutments of the new Iron Bridge over the Jacques Cartier River at Valcartier. The said by-law will, according to a resolution of the Council submitted to the approval or disapproval of such by-law on Monday the ninth day of the month of February, this year, in conformity with the Municipal Code of the Province of Quebec, and that such meeting will be held on the above day at ten of the clock in the forenoon at the residence of George Neil where the Council holds its sittings.
-William Goodfellow Secretary-Treasurer,
CERTIFICATE OF PUBLICATION
I, the undersigned Secretary-Treasurer, being domiciled in the Municipality of St. Gabriel West, do certify under oath of office that I published two certified copies of the above original notice by posting one on the public road on the line between John Holton and Thomas Neil, and another at Fairchild's where James Goodfellow is residing, on Tuesday, 20 of this month of January at 4 of the clock in the afternoon. Also two certified copies of the No. 17 by-law on the same day and same hour , both, in the Municipality of St. Gabriel West this 20 day of January 1891.
-William Goodfellow Secretary-Treasurer.
By-law No. 17, Province of Quebec, Municipality of St. Gabriel West, County of Quebec.
At a special session of the Municipal Council of St. Gabriel West, convened by his Worship the Mayor, Samuel Clark, and held in said Municipality where the sessions of the Council are usually held, on Monday, the nineteenth day of January, eighteen hundred and ninety-one , in conformity with the provisions of the Municipal code of the Province of Quebec, at which were present Mayor, Samuel Clark, and the Councillors George Neil, Patrick Hayes, Henry McKinley, William Hamilton, Francis Smith, and James Bowles, forming a quorum of the Council under the presidency of the Mayor, Mr. Samuel Clark.
It is ordained and resolved by law of the Council as follows:
That whereas the Government of the Province of Quebec has agreed to subscribe $,200.00 towards the construction of the abutments for an iron bridge at Valcartier over the Jacques Cartier River and to call for tenders and construct said bridge as soon as possible as the Municipalities of St. Gabriel West and St. Gabriel de Valcartier shall have deposited the sum of "3,800.00 in the hands of the Government, being the amount of the contribution for such purposes to be made by the said Municipalities .
That a special assessment of three dollars and seventy-five cents be levied upon all taxable real estate in the municipality of St. Gabriel West in order to raise the sum of $2,786.63 being the amount of said loan and interest for two years.
That whereas the share of the Municipality of St Gabriel West is the sum of $2,533.33 which sum must be paid to the government before the government will commence construction of said bridge.
That it is advisable that the Mayor, Mr. Samuel Clark and the SecretaryTreasurer, William Goodfellow, are hereby authorized to borrow in the name of the Corporation of St. Gabriel West the sum of $2;533.33, and pay the same into the hands of the Government of this Province, for the purpose aforesaid of the construction of the proposed Iron bridge and are further authorized to sign for said Corporation a deed of obligation for said sum payable to the lender at the expiration of two years from the date of such loan with interest at the rate of five percent per annum.
That the Secretary-Treasurer is instructed to draw up an assessment roll pursuant to the foregoing provisions.
-William Goodfellow, Secretary-Treasurer.
(Here they must be referring to the old wooden bridge -Noted by B. Monaghan)
Moved by Councillor Hamilton, seconded by Councillor Neil that whereas the bridge over the Jacques River is in a dangerous condition, that the Secretary-Treasurer put up Public Notice Upon the bridge, that any person or persons passing a double team of horses loaded over three hundred weight the Corporation will not be responsible for any damage incurred by the breaking of the said bridge but will hold the parties responsible for said damage.
Moved by Councillor Hamilton seconded by Councillor Neil that the Council publish and sell the old wooden bridge over the Jacques Cartier river, on Monday the 22nd day of this present month of February 1892. And that it be sold in lots. Sale to take place on the bridge at 12 of the clock noon.
-Passed unanimously. William Goodfellow Secretary-Treasurer.
ARCHIVES FROM NEWSPAPERS REGARDING THE BRIDGE
RESTORING THE HISTORIC MACQUET BRIDGE
''CLARK'S BRIDGE IS one of the last three parabolic bridges in the entire province of Quebec.''
According to Jean Lefrançois (2002) research ''Les ponts Macquets au Québec: Un héritage à conserver'' Clark's Bridge is one of the last six remaining Macquet Bridges standing in the province of Quebec. More importantly, he notes that Clark's Bridge is one of the last three parabolic bridges in the entire province of Quebec.
Due to its historical significance, in the summer of 2001, the Minister of Transportation invested $680 000 for the restoration of Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier's Macquet bridge.
*If you'd like to read more about the restoration project and/or Jean Lefrançois' 2002 research project concerning Macquet bridges in Quebec, simply click on the link below to download the file: