Fredericton Walking Trail Bridge


Sheffield, Canada

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Acrylic on canvas. The original is currently on exhibit at the York Sunbury Museum (

This bridge that crosses the Saint John River is boasted as the longest walking trail bridge in the world. This former railway bridge connects the North side of Fredericton to the South side, and is 0.6 KM in length.

The idea of a railway bridge in Fredericton had been proposed as early as 1860. This dream was not pursued until local industrialist, Alexander Gibson, took on the project of building a Railway in Fredericton. It still took much time and effort on Gibson’s part before the construction of the railway bridge came into play. It began with the laying of the first foundation stone in 1887, and was operational in 1889.

When the original bridge was damaged by ice and flood waters in March of 1935, it was replaced by the bridge we see today. The official opening for the current bridge took place on August 6th, 1936, with hundreds of local citizens in attendance.

Railways ceased operation in the mid 1990’s in the central and southern regions of New Brunswick, including the railway bridge that connected the North and South sides of Fredericton. Several years later, in the late 1990’s, it was converted into the walking bridge that we have today.

The bridge has just recently been renamed “The Bill Thorne Walking Bridge”. The bridge was named after Bill Thorne (1933-2006) to honour his participation and commitment to the city of Fredericton. Mr. Thorne was a teacher and vice principal at Fredericton High School, played, coached, and promoted rugby, and was Municipal Politician, serving as Deputy Mayor of Fredericton. The dedication ceremony took place on June 7th, 2008.

The Church in the bacground is the Christ Church Cathedral.

Bishop John Medley arrived in Fredericton on June 19, 1845; the newly appointed bishop to the See of Fredericton the 40 year old Medley immediately set about planning for construction of a magnificent new cathedral. Christ Church Cathedral was modeled after St. Mary’s, Snettisham, Norfolk. Today, the two cathedrals bear remarkable similarities to each other. The architectural style, imitating from another building, is known as “Revived Gothic”.

The cornerstone for the building was laid on October 15, 1845 by Lieutenant Governor Sir William Colebrooke. The service of consecration marking the official opening of the Cathedral would not take place until August 11, 1853, almost eight years later.

The tower of the Cathedral was the last major part to be constructed. The original plans called for a twin tower design, but soaring construction costs led to the choice of a single tower. The original design was published in the Illustrated London News in 1849.

On July 3, 1911, lightning struck the Cathedral and the resulting fire gutted the spire and destroyed the choir when the bells melted and fell to earth. It took over a year and $100,000 to rebuild the Cathedral. On August 12, 1912, Bishop Richardson led a rededication service for the restored building. The newly constructed spire rose to 198 feet.

In 1983, the Cathedral was declared a National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

Artwork Comments

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