Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Ice Piers

The Annapolis Heritage Society Archives are very lucky to have numerous photographs of the Annapolis Royal to Granville Ferry bridge. These images chronicle the building of the ice piers in 1910 to the eventual collapse of the bridge in 1960. Many of these pictures document collapse of the bridge, but we do have some which show how the bridge was built.

The construction of the ice piers which supported the bridge is an interesting story. A ferry system had been in place since 1777, but by 1820, local citizens had begun petitioning the government for a bridge. As with many large construction projects, there was a need of government support to build a bridge from Annapolis Royal to Granville Ferry. The Hon. Samuel W.W. Pickup from Granville Ferry was this regions Member of Parliament from 1904 to 1911. As our representative in the Federal government, Pickup was a strong proponent of a bridge. Unfortunately, by the terms of Canadian Confederation, the Federal government was not permitted to build bridges with the exception of bridges between provinces. His hands were somewhat tied.

In a stroke of cunning, Pickup realized that the Federal government was entitled to build aids to navigation. If a series of ice piers were placed across the basin from Annapolis Royal to Granville Ferry, they would help to control the ice floes which moved along the river during the winter. If these ice piers were built side by side, a bridge could eventually be placed on top of them.

This is exactly what happened. In 1910 construction began on the ice piers. Unfortunately for Pickup, during the 1911 Federal election his opponent, A.L. Davidson campaigned against spending of this sort. The voters had their say and Pickup was out of office. It took a great deal of campaigning until the Provincial government stepped in to complete the bridge in 1921.

Today's image was taken in 1921. It shows one of the sections of the bridge being floated into place. The ice piers can be seen extending along the left side of the picture.

All for now,
RGS

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