The Bridges Conclusion

By Liam Waterman, GHTC Volunteer

December 4th's newsletter marked the last entry in the history of the GHTC’s bridges and boardwalks that I have been completing for the #YearOfTheBridges. I hope that I have done sufficient justice to these connections, and the work that all of you have undertaken to keep the GHTC’s trails accessible. One of the many things this project has taught me is that there are two sides to the idea of connection. There is the act of reaching out, or of forming new connections; but there is also the act of repairing and maintaining the connections one already has. As much as the GHTC has been focused recently on forging new connections, as seen, for example, in the two fundraising campaigns mobilized for the Gosling Bridge and Crane Park Community Bridge, this project has also been about looking backwards, and attempting to reaffirm the club’s history. I personally have used many of the GHTC’s trails since my early childhood, largely without knowing who was responsible for maintaining them. It has been a wonderful experience to learn more about the work that goes into keeping these trails open; I have not only had the privilege to talk with many longstanding GHTC members, but also to sift through the GHTC’s archives, which are located at the McLaughlin Library at the University of Guelph. This collection, which was started by U of G librarian and former GHTC president Dave Hull, contains an astounding wealth of documents from across the club’s history. While I did not always find the information that I was looking for in my visits to the library, this experience drove home for me the sheer scope of the GHTC’s efforts since its founding in 1971, and the many ways that the club has adapted and changed over that time. I highly recommend, to any club members interested, stopping by the archives at some point to have an in-depth look at this history yourself. Of particular interest are the scrapbooks stored there, which contain pictures dating all the way back to the beginning of the GHTC.

Sometimes it can be valuable to look back at the past, I believe; I am confident that the work that the GHTC has done for the Guelph community is more than worth commemorating. At the same time, I understand from president John Fisher that the club is committed to moving forward with a number of new connections in the coming years. Since 2021 the GHTC has been seeking to repair the heritage wooden trestle bridge located on the Eramosa River, which, if restored, could potentially serve as a new connection between the O.R. Side Trail and Section 1 of the Radial Line Trail. Unfortunately, the bridge is currently owned by Infrastructure Ontario, which has expressed plans to demolish it in the near future. For the trestle bridge to be saved it would likely have to be purchased by the City of Guelph, which could then turn over responsibility for repairs to the GHTC. The club remains invested in the outcome of the bridge, and hopes that the City, whom the GHTC has worked well with on recent projects, may step in to help them out now. In addition to this project, the GHTC is also considering the possibility of installing a new bridge crossing the Eramosa River off of the Smith Side Trail. There are old abutments already present at the location where the railway formerly crossed the river, which could allow a new bridge to be built at reduced cost and labour. The outcome of this initiative would depend on getting the agreement of the landowners on either side of the river, and would likely require the construction of a new easement on the east side. If such a bridge could be accomplished, it would allow the GHTC to open up new trails leading towards Eden Mills in the future.

In general, the GHTC remains open to considering new proposals for bridge projects or fundraising campaigns. Bill Mungall (Speed River Trail Coordinator) suggested to me during my interview with him that it may be worthwhile for the club to install an engineered steel bridge at the current location of the Imperial Road Drain Bridge, on Section 1 of the Speed River Trail. This could be a potential worthy location for such a new campaign. Regardless of what specific project the GHTC pursues next, I am confident that in the process new stories and community ties will be forged, propelling the club forward for years to come.

All the best,



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