1932: Broadway Bridge opens, designed by Dean of Engineering
In the late 1920s, a
consultant to the City of Saskatoon’s Planning Board recommended that “a
downtown commercial area could be saved from becoming a slum by building a
bridge linking Broadway Avenue to it.”
C.J. Mackenzie, the Dean of Engineering, who had a strong interest in
city planning, lobbied for the project – but was told by the Mayor of Saskatoon
that if he wanted to see the project go ahead he should run for City Council
and speak from “the seat of power.” He
did run, and was elected, and during his term in office the project was
approved and the necessary bylaw was passed.
But it may only have been the advent of the Great Depression and federal
make-work projects that saved that Broadway Bridge project from taking several
years to be initiated. The project was
approved as a federal make-work project in November 1931 (with funding from the
city and provincial governments as well), and full-scale work began in late
December 1931 – piers needed to be built while the river was still frozen. Dean Mackenzie took a leave of absence from
the University to accept the contract to design and build the bridge, while his
engineering staff consisted entirely of recent College of Engineering
graduates. Over 1,500 men worked on the
job. Nicknamed the “Engineer’s Bridge”
or “Dean’s Bridge,” the Broadway Bridge was officially opened on 11 November 1932
and was known as one of the finest structures of its kind in Canada.
A few years later, the Dean’s
“bridge team” was responsible for the Ceepee bridge across the North
Saskatchewan River between Saskatoon and the Battlefords, later called the
Borden Bridge. For his master’s thesis,
the chief draftsman for the Broadway Bridge project, Beverley Evans, was
designing a reinforced bowstring arch concrete bridge which would be suitable
for this kind of crossing. The design
was accepted by the federal government as the basis for another make-work
project, and the Borden Bridge (along with the thesis) was completed by late
C.J. Mackenzie fonds, MG 56
1932a: Construction of the first arch, May 1932. C.J. Mackenzie fonds, MG 56, file 2-13.
1932b: The final stages of construction: removing the arch centering piles, December 1932. C.J. Mackenzie fonds, MG 56, file 2-13.
Kerr & Hanson, pp. 304-307.
1. Quotes from Macdonald, pp. 59-62.