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High Level Bridge


Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The High Level Bridge is a massive steel truss multi-function bridge with a total of 28 spans, set on a combination of concrete piers and steel legs. The High Level Bridge is 777.24 metres long and the base of the rail deck is 47.55 metres above the North Saskatchewan River mean water level. It links 109 Street on Edmonton’s south side with 109 Street in Edmonton’s downtown.

Heritage Value
The High Level Bridge is significant as one of the four great steel truss bridges constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in Canada before World War One. The High Level Bridge was constructed between 1910 and 1913, and its design employs two distinct truss types, the Pratt Truss and the Warren Truss, for the steel substructure. The steel superstructure features two decks, one twenty feet above the other. The High Level Bridge, despite alterations and ongoing maintenance, retains its historical character and integrity of design and fabric.

The High Level Bridge has unique significance in western Canada for its original combination of four modes of transportation: train, streetcar, automobile and pedestrian. Streetcar traffic ceased in 1951, and the CPR stopped running trains over the upper deck in 1989. Vehicular traffic and a pedestrian walkway continue on the lower deck, while a tourist streetcar runs seasonally on the upper deck.

The High Level Bridge is also significant as a landmark and as an icon for the city of Edmonton.

Source: City of Edmonton (Bylaw 11114)

Character-Defining Elements
The original construction techniques, scale, design and visual impact of the High Level Bridge are expressed in character-defining structural elements that include:
- form and massing exemplified by 28 spans, including three massive center Pratt Truss spans (each 87.78 metres long), the seven Pratt Truss spans (each 29.26 metres long), and six tower spans (each 14.33 metres long) on steel legs that form the south side approach, two Warren Truss spans (each 39.62 metres long) on the north approach;
- four central reinforced concrete piers set in the river bed;
- original bridge superstructure that includes the lower traffic deck and the upper rail deck with existing arrangement of steel members and reinforced concrete;
- steel substructure below the lower deck;
- metals handrails flanking the length of the bridge on both the east and west sides;
- two decks each 11.89 metres wide and 6.10 metres one above the other;
- all black painted surfaces.


Street Address: 109 Street, joining the south and north banks of the North Saskatchewan River
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: 109 Street over the North Saskatchewan River from 91 Avenue to 96 Avenue
Contributing Resources: Structures: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
5 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.529235 -113.511533 Secondary Source NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1995/09/13

Historical Information

Built: 1910/01/01 To 1913
Significant Date(s) 1913 To 1984
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Technology and Engineering
Historic Function(s): Transport - Land : Bridge, Tunnel or Other Engineering Work
Transport - Rail : Station or Other Rail Facility
Current Function(s): Transport - Land : Bridge, Tunnel or Other Engineering Work
Transport - Land : Pedestrian Way
Architect: Philips B. Motley
Builder: John B. Gunn and Sons

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0031
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 54254
Website Link: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/planning_development/historic-resources.aspx
Data Source: City of Edmonton, Planning and Development Department, 10250 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 3P4 (File: HC-2175 ).
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