Prince of Wales Bridge

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Prince of Wales Bridge
Ottawa rail bridge.JPG
Looking west to the Prince of Wales Bridge
Coordinates 45°24′56″N 75°43′40″W / 45.41556°N 75.72778°W / 45.41556; -75.72778
Carries Not in use
Crosses Ottawa River, Lemieux Island
Locale Ottawa-Gatineau, National Capital Region, Canada
Official name English: Prince of Wales Bridge
French: Pont Prince de Galles
Owner City of Ottawa
Design Truss bridge
Rail characteristics
No. of tracks 1, but not in use
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Structure gauge AAR
Opened 1880
Closed 2005 (likely temporarily)

Coordinates: 45°24′56″N 75°43′40″W / 45.41556°N 75.72778°W / 45.41556; -75.72778

The Prince of Wales Bridge (French: Pont Prince de Galles) is a rail bridge across the Ottawa River joining Ottawa, Ontario to Gatineau, Quebec. It connected with the Canadian Pacific Railway line just west of Lebreton Flats, and crosses the south channel of the river to Lemieux Island; it then continues across the northern channel into Quebec.

It is a multi-span Pratt truss bridge, consisting of six equal spans over the south channel, and seven spans over the north channel; the second-last span, proceeding northward, is longer by a factor of about 1.7.[citation needed]


The bridge was built by the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway[1][2] in 1880, named for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. At that time, it was one of the few crossings of the Ottawa River, and was one of the most valuable assets of the line, which was owned by the Quebec provincial government. The QMO&O continued to lose money, however, and it was purchased by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1882, who connected it with their other recent purchase, the Canada Central Railway. This connection gave the CPR a solid rail route from their westward line being built from North Bay to the ports of the St. Lawrence. The Prince of Wales Bridge was joined by the CPR's Royal Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge in 1901, the second railway bridge to cross the river between Ottawa and Hull.

The Prince of Wales Bridge served well into the 20th century, but as rail transport diminished and more efficient routes became more common, the line was abandoned. The City of Ottawa purchased the CPR line, including the Prince of Wales Bridge, during the early 2000s for the O-Train project; however, the bridge has remained unused and the section of track between the Bayview Station and the bridge is overgrown. As the purchase of the bridge included the approaches on both sides, the City of Ottawa now owns property in Quebec.[3]


The Prince of Wales Bridge, south approach, July 2005

In 2005, the bridge was temporarily disconnected from the tracks just before its approach on the Ottawa side; this was done for a water line project being built along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway as part of the Lebreton Flats revitalization.[citation needed]

The Prince of Wales Bridge is now at the centre of controversy regarding current access and use by pedestrians. The disused bridge has for years served as a quick link between Gatineau and Ottawa for pedestrians, sunset watchers and dog walkers. These users want the bridge to remain open for their enjoyment.

On the other hand, city officials have been pointing out safety and other concerns related to the bridge for some time. Between January 1, 2005 and August 29, 2016 the Ottawa Police Service has received 51 calls about activities at the bridge, three of which resulted in charges being laid.[4]

This current use of the bridge, though officially considered by the City as "trespassing", falls under the legal concept of "usufruct": the right of "usufruct" is the right of possessing, using and enjoying the property (movable or immovable) of another, subject to the obligation of restoring the property (or sometimes its equivalent in money) at the end of the period of enjoyment.[5] As the use of the bridge by pedestrians has cost nothing to the owner of the bridge (the City of Ottawa).

With City of Gatineau officials now showing great interest in the Prince of Wales bridge as a transit link between the two cities,[6] transit advocates hope that the bridge can someday support a transit rail link to the Quebec side of the river, and connect Ottawa's O-Train system with the numerous Gatineau commuters who cross the river daily. Modifications would need to be made to allow such, as there is only enough room for a single track on the bridge; it would need to be twinned or a passing loop would need to be installed on Lemieux Island, or other similar upgrade(s) such as a four rail gauntlet track like the one still in use on the Bordeaux Railway Bridge between Montreal and Laval, in addition to the passing loop, would need to be made.

In September 2016 the City of Ottawa spent $46,000 to install new chain-link fences to block entrance to the bridge, although the fence was breached shortly afterwards.[7] As of the end of the year 2016, the city has no plans to convert the bridge into a pedestrian or cycling path, which it says will cost $10.5 million. Rater, their ultimate goal is to use the bridge as an interprovincial rail link, connecting OC Transpo’s Trillium Line with Gatineau’s rapid transit network.[7] Other than that, it may become part of a proposed commuter rail system.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Railways of Ottawa: Hull - Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental". Colin Churcher's Railway Pages. 
  2. ^ "The Railways of Ottawa: Findings of the Circle". Colin Churcher's Railway Pages. 
  3. ^ "Property Acquisition - CP Rail Railway Corridor - Ottawa River to Leitrim Road". City of Ottawa Report to Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee and Council, 7 December 2004. 
  4. ^ Willing, Jon (6 October 2016). "Ottawa police called to Prince of Wales Bridge 51 times — over 10 years". Postmedia Network Inc. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Willing, Jon (21 September 2016). "Stop damaging the Prince of Wales bridge barriers, councillor pleads". Postmedia Network Inc. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  8. ^ Moose Consortium

External links[edit]