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Finlay Bridge

Medicine Hat

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Finlay Bridge is a traffic and foot bridge crossing the South Saskatchewan River, connecting the north (Riverside) and south side (Downtown) of Medicine Hat. Constructed of steel, concrete, and wood, this 900 foot span, officially opened on May 14, 1908

Heritage Value
The historical significance in the Finlay Bridge lies with the impact it had for the people of Medicine Hat and southeast Alberta in the first half of the twentieth century, its size, and its namesake and most vocal advocate, William Thomas Finlay.

Finlay Bridge officially opened on May 14, 1908. Although Medicine Hat’s two banks had been connected by a rail bridge since 1883 and a small ferry service originally operated by the North West Mounted Police, Finlay Bridge meant that Medicine Hat and Southeast Alberta were truly linked to the rest of the new province of Alberta.

Finlay Bridge is named for William T. Finlay: Mayor of Medicine Hat from 1900-1902, representative for Medicine Hat in the Territorial Government 1902-1905, and Medicine Hat’s first representative in the Alberta Legislature 1905-1910. As MLA and Minister of Agriculture, he advocated for many improvements to the region, perhaps most notably the bridge.

Structurally, Finlay Bridge consists of abutments on each bank of the river, 4 concrete piers (40 feet of which are above the bed and 25 feet which are below), and five steel arches (measuring 31 feet in height and are 180 feet length). The bridge as originally constructed was 28 feet wide with a wood deck and a wood sidewalk running along the west side of traffic. A six foot sidewalk was later added between 1908 and 1917 on the east side of traffic. At the time of construction, Finlay Bridge was the longest steel bridge in Alberta, and the second longest across the South Saskatchewan when built. The Traffic (Victoria) Bridge in Saskatoon which was completed months earlier and was modestly longer, however, is now closed.

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements include:

• Size

• Continuous use

• Riveted steel construction

• Cast-in-place concrete piers and abutments

• Five spans of curved chord Pratt trusses


Street Address: Forms part of 2nd Avenue NE and spans over the South Saskatchewan River connecting 2nd Street NE and 1st Street SE
Community: Medicine Hat
Boundaries: Forming part of 2nd Avenue NE and spanning the South Saskatchewan River connecting 2nd Street NE and 1st Street SE
Contributing Resources: Structures: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
50°02'34.91" 110°40'41.96" Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2011/12/19

Historical Information

Significant Date(s) 1908 To 1917
Historic Function(s): Transport - Land : Bridge, Tunnel or Other Engineering Work
Current Function(s): Transport - Land : Bridge, Tunnel or Other Engineering Work
Builder: John Chambers C.E. (Chief Engineer)
Context: Canadian Theme - Developing Economies

Canadian Sub-Theme - Transportation and Communication

Medicine Hat Theme - Transportation and Communication Crossroads

Notes - regional transportation centre

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0304
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link: https://www.medicinehat.ca/home/showdocument?id=10259
Data Source: City of Medicine Hat, Planning, Building & Development Services 580 First Street S.E. Medicine Hat, AB T1A 8E6
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