The new stone bridge was built in 1901-to replace a rickety old wooden structure. The old bridge was so unsafe that it was illegal to cross at a faster pace than a walk.
Editor Almonte Gazette: — April 11, 1873
At last our bridge is covered, and such a covering. It reminds me of the Old Scot’s experience o f Canada’s roads, when he exclaimed, “Roads— ‘McAdam’ fear and tremble, of infernal corduroy.” Of all the coverings ever put on a bridge surely that at Pakenham village is the most villainously rough and rotten. Our Council must surely be demented if they will take the work off the contractor’s hands in present state.
Small, hollow, intricately twisted cedars, a third at least of which are specific to cover the smallest country culvert, are made to do duty on this bridge, over which, on an average, lor six months of the year, 80 or 100 tons of lumber or other traffic may be expected to pass daily.
Any man, who knows anything about such matters must, on examination, pronounce it a most unsafe and faulty covering, and a most expensive one too, as it could have been covered with three inch pine for a little more than half the money.
Our municipal body were so fearful of failing in their re-election that they would not ask for tenders last September when people could have made arrangements to take out the necessary logs for such a purpose. Tenders were asked for in February for either plank or cedar, when it was well known that no such length of plank could be procured on such short notice.
Patties desirous of tendering could not do so, as there were no plans or specifications prepared, and the chosen five could not even tell the length and width of the bridge. One tender was sent in at the time specified, and on being opened was rejected, and a party was urged by the Council to put in a tender after the opening of the other—surely an unwarrantably irregular proceeding, to put it in its mildest shape.
Parties desirous of proving the truth of my assertions had better take a walk over the bridge, if not afraid of breaking through the rotten cedars or dropping through the crevices Pakenham, April 10th, 1873.
The bridge was built in 1901 by O’Toole & Keating, Scottish masons from Ottawa, for a cost of $14,500. The stones, the largest of which weighs 5 tons, came from a local quarry. As a result of local pressure to preserve it, the bridge was never replaced with a newer one and restored in 1984. At that time, the bridge was also strengthened with reinforced concrete to accommodate car and truck traffic.
During the Great Famine (Black ’47), Irish families were sent from Grosse Isle, Quebec to Montreal and then on to local communities in Upper Canada which were either on a canal system or where industrialization was taking place and jobs were opening up.
In Pakenham, Ontario there was an already established Irish community to assist the new arrivals to integrate into life in Canada. Some of the famine emigrants stayed here in Pakenham and others moved westward into Renfrew County. Here are names of two families who came from Montreal to Pakenham between 1845 and 1847:
Patrick Maggidan (Madigan) and family
James Brady (three adults)