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History

Originally called the “Nuns’ Island Bridge”, the structure was officially named the “Champlain Bridge” in honor of Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec City in 1608.

On December 21, 1978, the Corporation became responsible for the management, maintenance and monitoring of the Champlain Bridge.

The bridge is officially closed to traffic in the summer of 2019 and its deconstruction began a year later in August 2020.

2020-2025
August 2020

Deconstruction work on the Champlain bridge begins in the Île des Sœurs sector.

2000-2019
November 2019

Before the deconstruction of the original Champlain Bridge starts, JCCBI offered unique guided tours to the public. These historic 90-minute tours were presented in collaboration with Heritage Montreal in November 2019. Visitors to the bridge could capture never-before-seen images and enjoy a memorable experience!

June 28, 2019

The original Champlain Bridge was officially closed to traffic, and motorists started travelling on the new Samuel De Champlain Bridge. A historical moment.

An emotional day as we say #byebyeChamplain

Spring 2019
November 2nd, 2015

The management of the north and south approaches of the Champlain Bridge and the federal section of Highway 15 was transferred to Signature on the Saint Lawrence, the consortium responsible for the New Champlain Bridge Corridor project. The transfer includes operations, maintenance and traffic management over these sections.

April 1, 2015

As part of the New Champlain Bridge Corridor project, for the north and south approaches of the Champlain Bridge and the federal section of Highway 15 are transferred from the Corporation to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada. To ensure a smooth transition, the Corporation continues to oversee the operations of these sections.

December 2014

Inauguration of the new Île des Sœurs bypass bridge

The construction of this temporary bypass bridge between Montreal and Île des Soeurs started in August 2013. The bypass bridge has the same number of lanes as the previous bridge as well as a wider bicycle path and a reserved public transit lane.

The bridge is no longer in service since October 2018.

Spring 2014

The super beam was replaced with a modular truss. This innovative and highly effective reinforcement method was then deployed on all 100 edge girders from 2014 to 2018.

November 2013

During an inspection in November 2013, a crack was detected on an edge girder towards the South Shore. The Corporation installed a 75-tonne prefabricated super beam to stabilize the cracked girder while maintaining traffic flow. To install the beam, four lanes of traffic had to be closed for two days.

October 5, 2011

The Government of Canada announced that the Champlain Bridge would be replaced with a new one.

1980-1999
May 4, 1990

The toll was abolished on May 4, 1990 at 12:00 p.m.

1989

Redecking of the Champlain Bridge

The first replacement in Canada of a concrete deck with a fully field-welded steel deck. The unique, durable and effective solution to lighten the structure won the Prix Méritas from the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec thanks to the exceptional quality of this large-scale project.

1982

The Corporation introduced a reserved against-traffic bus lane during rush hour. Although meant to be temporary, this bus lane was used to transport 30,000 people per peak hour until the bridge closed in 2019.

1960-1979
December 21st , 1978

In 1978, The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc. was incorporated and became responsible for the Champlain Bridge, the Jacques Cartier Bridge, and a section of the Bonaventure Expressway and Highway 15.

June 28, 1962

This toll bridge opened on June 28, 1962 without an official ceremony. At the time, the only approach to the bridge was from Wellington Street in Montreal. The Champlain Bridge had six lanes — three in each direction — and a concrete median.

The construction of the Champlain Bridge cost approximately $35 million in 1962. Including the approaches and Bonaventure Expressway, the total cost was approximately $52 million.

Photo credit (left) : Hans van der Aa
Photo credit (right) : Hans van der Aa

Photo credit (left) : Hans van der Aa
Photo credit (right) : Hans van der Aa

1940-1959
1958

In 1958, it was officially named the “Champlain Bridge” in honour of Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec City in 1608. 

At first, the structure was referred to as the Île des Sœurs Bridge, as it touched ground on this island. It was quickly renamed for the 350th anniversary of Quebec City.

Photo credit (left) : Hans van der Aa
Photo credit (right) : Hans van der Aa

1957

Construction of the bridge begins.

The National Harbours Board was put in charge of the project. At first, the bridge was called the “Nun’s Island Bridge,” as it crossed over Île Saint-Paul, which was also known as Île des Sœurs (or Nun’s Island).

August 17, 1955

The Honourable George Marler, the federal Minister of Transport at the time, announced that a toll bridge would be built over Île des Sœurs to the South Shore.

Philippe Ewart

Philippe Ewart was hired to work on the construction of the Champlain Bridge because of his expertise in traffic flow. This engineer had to coordinate this vast project to create a direct connection between Montreal and the road network leading to Sherbrooke.

Did you know that Philippe Ewart was both an engineer and an author?

In 1956, the National Harbours Board, which was officially in charge of the project, held consultations with stakeholders to decide on the exact location for the new bridge. Once the route was determined, the design and construction work was awarded to Philip Louis Pratley, who died suddenly a year later. His son Hugh Pratley took over the reins and, to better manage the project, partnered with a trio of engineers, one of whom was Philippe Ewart.

The work started in 1957 and the bridge opened to traffic on June 28, 1962. Quebec’s harsh weather conditions along with tight deadlines and a small work force put considerable pressure on the project. Thanks to sophisticated tools and an innovative use of girders, the Champlain Bridge became the source of great advances in construction techniques for multiple-span bridges.

After this experience, Ewart and his associates went on to write a number of books, including works on highway tolls and urban traffic.

Philippe Fougerolle

In 1844, French mason Philippe Fougerolle founded the company that still bears his name. The Fougerolle company worked on the design of many large-scale structures and was responsible for developing the construction of the Champlain Bridge.

What do we know about the Fougerolle company?

The company’s story started in France. After finishing work on the Canal du Nivernais, Philippe Fougerolle received the royal engineering seal to work on roads and bridges in Nièvre. With this recognition, Fougerolle received a stamp of approval that let him submit tenders for major projects. From the Mauvages Tunnel to the Tancarville Bridge, Fougerolle had a hand in the construction of many viaducts, tunnels and bridges in France.

Photo credit: Hans van der Aa

Many years later, and thousands  of kilometres away in Montreal, it was announced that a toll bridge would be built over the St. Lawrence River. The National Harbours Board invited representatives from Greater Montreal cities and governments to decide on the location of the structure. The design of the plans and specifications and the supervision of the work was handed over to the Pratley de Montréal consulting engineering firm. To enhance the project coordination, the Champlain Bridge construction project was divided into seven sectors, including the access ramps, metal structure and concrete deck. The Fougerolle company from France was hired to oversee the development of the entire project. Five years after the first construction contract was awarded, the Champlain Bridge opened to traffic in June 1962.

Roméo Valois

A graduate of the École Polytechnique de Montréal and the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, engineer Roméo Valois co-founded the Lalonde et Valois consulting engineering firm. Although the National Harbours Board was tasked with managing the construction of the Champlain Bridge in 1955, engineering consulting firm Pratley de Montréal was hired to create the plans and specifications and oversee the work. These engineers decided to partner with Lalonde et Valois to enhance the project coordination.

What do we know about Lalonde et Valois?

Valois partnered with a former classmate, Jean-Paul Lalonde, in a bold move to found his own engineering company in 1936. That year, the Quebec ministry of highways injected $50 million in the construction of roads and bridges. As the pair wanted to work on the problem of soil bearing capacity, a year later they acquired National Boring and Sounding, a company that specialized in the study of land that supports building, bridge and tunnel foundations.

The firm was able to expand its business even amidst the economic turmoil caused by the Second World War. Lalonde and Valois worked on major national projects, including over two hundred projects that dealt with major construction, school expansions, and renovations.

Photo credit: Hans van der Aa (May 5, 1961)

Quebec engineering comes into its own

Despite the heavy involvement of foreign engineers in major construction projects, the alumni association of the École Polytechnique de Montréal succeeded in positioning its graduates at the highest levels of the province’s civil service. After the launch of the $50-million transportation infrastructure program, Francophone engineers from Quebec moved into leadership positions for important infrastructure projects, such as the Champlain Bridge and the Honoré Mercier Bridge.

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