I Am a Pedestrian: Part 3
Walking around a city
I Am a Pedestrian is the result of a 159-kilometre walk around Toronto. The book consists of 159 observations gleaned from a 42-hour adventure at the perimeter. I Am a Pedestrian is a record of underexplored places, stories of people encountered and lost histories rediscovered at Toronto’s current city limits.
Before the onset of the novel coronavirus, I promoted I Am a Pedestrian in public libraries and other venues with a talk titled, The Time Travelling Pedestrian. With the aid of historical photographs, maps, and group discussion, the presentation revealed how Toronto has grown from a lonely French outpost in 1750 to today's bustling metropolis. Below is an excerpt from the book.
143—Middle Road Bridge
I am under a very old bridge.
Vehicular traffic is not permitted on the span. The bowstring truss is used exclusively by:
Sandbars and jagged shoals dot the shallow creek. With each footfall desperate minnows and crayfish struggle to remain concealed under slimy, partially submerged rocks coated in brown, stringy algae.
The twenty-six-metre span constructed in 1909 sits on the abutment of an earlier structure. The historic bridge dates to a time when Middle Road bisected Etobicoke Creek valley. The span is the creation of engineer Frank Barber. This is the first structure built by his firm, Frank Barber & Co. Additional Barber bridges are found at city limits.
Before his death in 1945, Barber’s company designed and constructed more than five hundred bridges across Canada. The Leaside Bridge is his most recognized viaduct in the city.
Middle Road Bridge was the first reinforced bowstring truss bridge constructed in Canada, the second in North America. The truss withstood Hazel unfazed.
At one time automobiles accessed the bridge via Sherway Drive. To the west a stub of Middle Road remains in operation. The once vital east–west transportation corridor outlived its usefulness with the opening of the QEW a kilometre south.
I Am a Pedestrian is available through this website.
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