N-0000.193.135 | Centre tube, Victoria Bridge, Montreal, QC, 1859

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Centre tube, Victoria Bridge, Montreal, QC, 1859
William Notman (1826-1891)
1859, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Albumen process
21 x 26 cm
Gift of Mr. James Geoffrey Notman
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , bridge (558) , Construction (163) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

The first project tackled in the year 1859 was the erection of the centre tube. At 104 meters it was longer by 30 meters than the other twenty-four tubes, built so as to span the main channel of the river by a safe margin of twenty feet on either side. To meet the deadline of January 1, 1860 for completion of the bridge, James Hodges began work on the centre tube in the winter of 1858-1859, rather than waiting until April when the ice went out. Accordingly the cribs and scaffolding were built, not without a great deal of trouble, and all was ready for work to begin on the tube itself on January 31. The danger in this procedure was that the ice might break up before the tube was completed, and any consequent shifting of the temporary piers by the great pressure of the ice shove could damage the tube or cause it to fall into the river. There was also the bitterly cold weather to contend with.
For three days in a row, the thermometer registered -38º C. To push the work along, the gangs laboured alternately night and day. (...) The work progressed rapidly in spite of the fearfully cold weather, and the tube was completed in eight weeks, with one day to spare when on March 28 the ice went out.