If you’re driving on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Ottawa, consider stopping off in Pakenham, on the banks of the Mississippi River. You’ll find there a five-arched stone bridge, considered one of the most beautiful bridges in all of Ontario.
Built in 1901, the Five-Span Bridge replaced another wooden bridge that previously existed at this location over the Mississippi River. As Pakenham had mills on both sides of the river, the bridge was of undeniable importance to the small community. But since the wooden bridge was damaged by ice each spring, the municipal council decided to build a new bridge, this time in stone.
The stone bridge was built in nine weeks, using stones from a local quarry. At the time, it cost $ 14,000. Over the years, the bridge has endured the vagaries of time, but as the local community wanted to save it, a major restoration project was undertaken in the 1980s. The bridge was solidified to allow passage of heavier vehicles.
The 85-metre-long bridge is considered one of the only five-arched stone bridges in all of North America. It’s not for nothing that the place is on the Lanark County Seven Wonders List, a list that also includes Purdon Conservation Area and Mill of Kintail Conservation Area, which I have visited this summer.
By the way, the Mississippi River in Eastern Ontario has no connection with the famous Mississippi River in the United States. But it is all the same very pretty, especially at this spot, with its rapids and its small cascade. A park has been set up near the bridge. The perfect place to take photos, have a picnic, or just come and admire the bridge!