Corktown Footbridge

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Coordinates: 45°25′14″N 75°41′3.9″W / 45.42056°N 75.684417°W / 45.42056; -75.684417

Love locks attached to the railing of Corktown Footbridge.

The Corktown Footbridge (French: Passerelle Corktown), also referred to as the Somerset Street bridge or simply the Somerset Bridge, is a footbridge in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada built across the Rideau Canal. The 70-metre bridge[1] is located about 400m south of the Laurier Avenue Bridge. It was opened on September 21, 2006.

It links Somerset Street East in Sandy Hill and the University of Ottawa with Somerset Street West in Centretown. Previously the canal had been crossable at this point only during the winter months, when it was frozen. People continued to cross late in the season when the ice was melting, which some worried was unsafe.[citation needed] The idea of such a bridge has existed since at least 1984, first being proposed by councillor Diane Holmes. It went through many years of review and feasibility studies. During the 1990s it was supported by Regional Councillor Madeleine Meilleur, but there was never enough money to get it built.[citation needed] The bridge was most recently championed by city councillor Clive Doucet, and city council narrowly approved the $5 million bridge project in January 2005.

The University of Ottawa and its students were strong supporters of the bridge during its construction. The bars and restaurants of Elgin Street were also eager to have more students.[citation needed] The bridge also links Centretown to the Campus Transitway Station (uOttawa rapid transit station by 2019) just across the canal.

Corktown Footbridge has numerous love locks attached to its railing.[2] In 2014, Professor Murat Saatcioglu of the University of Ottawa determined that there was no risk of structural collapse from the weight of the love locks attached to the railing of the bridge.[3]


The completed bridge in 2007.
The western base of the then-incomplete bridge, as it appeared in November 2005

Corktown, not a town at all, was a series of shanties along the "Deep Cut" section of the Rideau Canal in Ottawa which existed during its construction and were erected by some of its Irish labourers. Many of the workers came penniless from County Cork in Ireland, giving it its name.


In spring of 2007, a naming committee was struck by councillors Diane Holmes and Georges Bédard, composed of stakeholders from communities on both sides of the bridge. The committee presented its report to a public meeting on May 29, 2007, where members of the public had an opportunity to express their preferred name from three shortlisted names:[4]

Public support for the "Corktown" name was overwhelming, and on 13 June 2007, Ottawa City Council approved the name Passerelle Corktown Footbridge.[5][6][7] Corktown was the name of the primitive settlement which housed the Rideau Canal's builders, and the naming honours the sacrifices made in constructing the landmark waterway. Prior to this, the Corktown name was promoted by groups such as the Ottawa District Labour Council, the Bytown Museum, and an ad-hoc group called "Friends of Corktown Bridge", which organized a ceili in advance of the public meeting. [8]

The formal ceremony to name the Corktown Footbridge was held on 11 September 2007 led by Mayor Larry O'Brien.[9]

Panoramic view from the footbridge.


  1. ^ Waymarking description
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Lonergan, Patricia (May 15, 2007). "Potential names announced for pedestrian bridge". City Journal. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007.
  5. ^ Proussalidis, Daniel; Pihlainen, Dan (13 June 2007). "New Name of Pedestrian Bridge over Rideau Canal". CFRA (AM). Retrieved 2007-06-13.
  6. ^ Ottawa Citizen (13 June 2007). "Pedestrian bridge gets a name". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 2007-06-13.
  7. ^ Sun Media. "It's Official: Corktown Footbridge". Ottawa Sun. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-06-13.
  8. ^ Better Bicycling, "Pedestrian & cyclist bridge set to open", Fall 2006
  9. ^ ""Bridging" old and new with official naming of pedestrian bridge". Media release. City of Ottawa. 6 September 2007. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 2007-09-11.

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