Over, Under and Back Again

Canada #40 Montréal

As we explored the streets of downtown Montréal, we often caught glimpses of the elegant curves and contrasting geometric patterns of Jacques-Cartier bridge.

Built in 1930, the bridge spans the St Lawrence River and is 3,425.6 metres long. Originally named the Harbour Bridge, it was renamed in 1934 in honour of the French explorer Jacques Cartier, commemorating his first voyage along the St Lawrence River 400 years before.

With more than 35.8 million vehicles using the bridge every year, it is the third busiest in Canada and it’s not restricted to cars and buses. A sidewalk on one side of the bridge caters for pedestrians and cyclists while on the opposite side there’s a pedestrian only walkway. With amazing views of the river and the city, we knew this was going to be a walk with a difference.

Our walk began on the approach viaduct, where only a low cement wall separated us from five lanes of traffic. At the start, the sidewalk seemed as busy as the road. We had to be careful to stay on the right and listen for the warning bells as cyclists came up behind us.

Further along it became less busy, as those on bicycles hurtled past and regular walkers hurried on their way. We dawdled, admiring the views of the city, picking out familiar landmarks and watching as ferries and boats passed far below.

The views above us, of the huge steel trusses crosshatched against the blue sky, were equally as impressive.

Around the halfway mark where the bridge passes over St Helen’s Island, we came to a doorway leading to a staircase. We assumed the steps would take us down to ground level where we expected to find a corresponding staircase in the opposite pylon.

Instead, the steps went down just one level. An enclosed walkway one floor below the road was decorated with a colourful timeline of the bridge’s construction. Again we took our time, learning more about the history of the bridge.

At the far end, we climbed up the stairs to the pedestrian only sidewalk. With no need to keep an eye out for cyclists, we could stop at any time to enjoy more views of the river and the city. From our elevated position we heard the screams of people on the rollercoasters at a nearby fun park.

As we left the bridge and walked once more along the approach viaduct, we stopped and turned back for one last look. Luckily, with an pedestrian underpass nearby, we didn’t have to brave the traffic to cross the road!


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33 thoughts on “Over, Under and Back Again

  1. The metal work on this bridge is so interesting Carol. It puts me in mind of a child’s building set – way before Leggo was invented. There would be all kinds of shapes and sizes of little metal bits that you slotted or screwed together to build something. The ensuing results somehow resemble the bridgework as seen in your photos. I do like the way Canada does things and commemorates their beginnings. I feel we didn’t quite get it right here……

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I did not know there was a passageway on Jacques Cartier bridge… But then, I rarely go on that bridge by foot (went once to see fireworks)

    Anyway, the new Samuel de Champlain bridge will (eventually) have a multi-use path. I look forward to read your post when the time comes. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I like being up high and looking over a city – it’s often more interesting than the view you get from ground level. 🙂 Whoever though of putting a display about the history of the bridge, on the bridge, had a great idea! I bet you were relieved to come to the pedestrian only section of the walk, and you could relax without having to keep an ear open for the cyclists, who were no doubt speeding along.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Glad you enjoyed this post Jonno. This bridge was so beautiful and we saw it several times. In summer they let off fireworks from the bridge at night and it is all lit up, but we didn’t make it back in the evening. That would be a wonderful sight.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love bridges, and this is a beauty with added bonuses like a museum and the ability to move from one side to the other. Now, that was a walk I know I would have enjoyed. Thank you for taking us with you with these great shots. I LOVE the third from the last shot – perfect. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Capelas, Sáo Miguel- not quite a Monday walk | restlessjo

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