Bridging the Divide: How the original Johnson Street Bridge came to be


WATCH: CHEK News looks back at the history of the original Johnson Street Bridge. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

The Johnson Street Bridge has been the connector of communities for 94 years, but the birth of the bridge takes Victoria residents back nearly a century ago.

“By the end of the First World War, there was sort of a concerted effort to try and get a bridge that would accommodate automobiles,” explained local historian and journalist Ross Crockford.

The bridge was originally slated to open in 1922, but it had similar setbacks to the current bridge project.

“It was a complex project,” Crockford explained. “It went through a number of referendums to get the money. The whole bridge didn’t open until 1924.”

The bridge was comprised of two spans, one for railway traffic and the other for vehicles and pedestrians.

The substructure required 10,000 cubic yards of concrete.

The superstructure of the bridge was fabricated in Walkerville, Ont. and contains 100 tonnes of steel.

“Movable bridges are unique engineering structures,” Crockford said. “You’re building a giant machine!”

It was designed by Joseph Strauss, an American engineer who later became the mastermind behind San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Some might be surprised to learn that Victoria’s bridge, nick-named the Blue Bridge, was originally black.

“There was a decision in the late 1970s to use the same blue paint which the city had in stock to paint the light posts,” Crockford explained.

Saturday will officially mark the end of an era for the historic landmark that inspired the naming of a local theatre, a batch of pale ale and a bluegrass tune by The Bills.

“It’s pretty impressive that the old machine has continued to operate for over 90 years,” Crockford said. “I hope the new one proves to be as durable as the old one has been.”

Victoria’s new Johnson Street Bridge will officially open to pedestrians at noon on Saturday, March 31.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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