Excerpt from Bridge of Lights: My Walk Across Winnipeg’s Arlington Bridge and the City it Connects
“It’s April 8, 1911 and Winnipeg’s newest bridge is nearing completion. A Manitoba Free Press headline reads: Bridge of Lights, New Arlington Viaduct Will be a Night Sight for Winnipeggers. The writer continues:
The new Arlington street bridge across the C.P.R. yards when completed will be one of the night sights of the city as the result of the decision of the board of control yesterday to instal ornamental lighting standards on each side of the bridge roadway. The poles on each side will be seventy-five feet apart, and each will carry big incandescent globes. By alternating the lights, this will mean a big light every 37 feet across the bridge.
Sadly, the lighting never came to be. But, in the idea of glowing globes, there is a glimmer of recognition that this bridge has a purpose well beyond transporting traffic from one side to the other. This bridge of steel, crossing a broad river of rail tracks, connecting neighbourhoods on either side, serves a broader civic function.
On July 29, 2016, I embarked on my own exploration of that larger purpose. My plan was to walk the length of Arlington Street, starting at its Assiniboine River source, heading north across the Bridge of Lights and on to its terminus, eight kilometres later, at Enniskillen Avenue.
The street has been cobbled together over time from various, individually named thoroughfares. It was always Arlington Street from the Assiniboine River to Notre Dame Avenue. With a slight dogleg, it then transitioned into Brant Street until running into the C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway) Yards. On the other side of that impenetrable barrier of rail tracks lay Brown Avenue, which continued north to Inkster Boulevard and eventually on to Enniskillen Avenue. At the time the bridge was being designed and tendered, it was known as the Brown and Brant Street Bridge. In 1910, the name was changed to the Arlington Bridge and, so too, the street names on both sides of the bridge were amalgamated as Arlington Street.”