23.08.2019 20:45

One more step towards restoring the Québec Bridge

QUÉBEC CITY, Aug. 23, 2019 /CNW/ - As one of the greatest feats of civil engineering in Canada, the Québec Bridge is a testament to the innovation and hard-work of Canadians. The over 100-year-old bridge not only connects communities and businesses on both sides of the St. Lawrence River, but is also a national historic site and a source of pride for Quebeckers.

Today, the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, and the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, along with the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Member of Parliament for Québec; Joël Lightbound, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Louis-Hébert; and Régis Labeaume, Québec City's Mayor, announced that the Government is prepared to acquire the bridge to complete its restoration in a timely manner.

With this in mind, the Government is appointing a special negotiator to negotiate with the Bridge's current owner—the Canadian National Railway (CN)—and other stakeholders. The negotiator will have the mandate to recommend options ranging from a transfer of property of the bridge with an adequate compensation, legislation to see the bridge restored by CN in the near term, or other options to achieve that goal.

Yvon Charest has accepted the role of negotiator, effective today, bringing a wealth of experience to this project, including as the former president and CEO of Québec City-based iA Financial Group.

As negotiator, Mr. Charest will consult with local communities and other stakeholders and present a final report of recommendations to the government for consideration in 2020.

Throughout this process, the Government will continue to work closely with CN to determine the scope of the project, and to ensure that the bridge is able to meet the region's long-term needs. The Government will also collaborate closely with other key partners, including the cities of Québec City and Lévis, and the Government of Quebec.


 "When people use the Québec Bridge—whether they are driving, cycling, or walking—they are reminded of what's possible when Canadians work hard, and work together. We know how important the bridge is to people in the region, the local economy, and to Canada's economy as a whole. That's why our Government is making its full restoration a priority, beginning with the appointment of Yvon Charest as negotiator to recommend a path forward."

The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance

"Since July 17, 2018, when I was appointed Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Québec Bridge has been one of my top priorities. After working with and engaging our different partners to find the best solution, we are moving forward to protect and restore Québec City's first link for future generations. The appointment of Yvon Charest is a critical step in implementing creative solutions."

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

"For over 100 years, the Québec Bridge has been the pride of our city and its citizens, in addition to being vital to the economy of our city and our region. Since 2015, our government has done everything in its power to reach an agreement involving all the parties concerned. We've made every effort to identify a viable solution that would ensure the longevity of this jewel of our architectural heritage. Today, we have taken a major step toward implementing a permanent solution that will enable us to move forward with the work required to restore our Capital's iconic gateway."  

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Member of Parliament for Québec

"As an engineering marvel and a heritage gem, the Québec Bridge has been a source of pride for over 100 years. This landmark testifies to the genius, valour and courage of the people who built our city. As Member of Parliament for Louis-Hébert and a proud Quebec City resident, I feel it's up to us to live up to this heritage and ensure it endures. Today's announcement is a major milestone that will ensure the Bridge's restoration and preserve it for future generations."

Joël Lightbound, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Louis-Hébert

Quick facts

  • Completed in 1917, the Québec Bridge is the longest clear-span cantilever bridge of its kind in the world—with a 549-metre free span between the two central pillars—and is considered a major feat of engineering.
  • It was declared a historic monument in 1987 by the American Society of Civil Engineering and the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering, and designated a national historic site in 1995.
  • The bridge was also the first in North America made with nickel steel, and the first to use the K truss method of compression.

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Biographical Notes
Yvon Charest, FSA, FCIA

Yvon Charest held the position of President and CEO of iA Financial Group for 18 years until his retirement in 2018. From 1996 to 1999, he was its Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), then became President and COO in 1999.

From 1992 to 1996, he was Chief Actuary at iA's National Life subsidiary. Before that, he held various positions in the actuarial, administration and marketing fields.

Mr. Charest also sat the Board of Directors of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, of which he was Chair from 2006 to 2007.

Mr. Charest has conducted several complex negotiations over the course of his career including, notably the selection of a manager for the new amphitheatre in Québec City.

Mr. Charest is also very active in humanitarian organizations. He has supported all of Centraide (United Way) Québec's activities since 2000. In 2013, he received the United Way Canada Board of Directors Award. In April 2012, Mr. Charest received the Ordre des mécènes of the city of Québec, and in July 2016, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In January 2018, he was appointed to the Académie des Grands Québécois.

Mr. Charest has a bachelor's degree in actuarial sciences from Université Laval and is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) and a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA).

The history of the Québec Bridge
A masterpeice of engineering, a historic structure and a strategic asset


On October 2, 1900, the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, placed the cornerstone of the Québec Bridge. A few years later, on August 29, 1907, the south section of the bridge collapsed and killed 76 workers, including 33 Mohawk workers from the Kahnawake community.

The rail bridge was designed to link the two shores and provide easier transit for the 11 railroad companies in particular between the railways in Quebec and the United States. The design included two tracks for trains and one lane of roadway. It was, and still is, the longest clear span cantilever bridge in the world, measuring 549 metres between its main pillars.

On August 17, 1908, the Minister of Railways and Canals tasked 3 engineers, including the Canadian H.E. Vautelet, with carrying out necessary changes to the bridge's basic design. This led to the use of nickel alloy steel to decrease the risk of fracturing. In 1913, construction began, and the central span was built in Sillery Cove from May to July 1916. On September 11, 1916, the bridge tragically collapsed for the last time killing 13 workers and injuring more than 14 others. To this day, the collapsed central span rests at the bottom of the river.


On September 20, 1917, the construction and installation of a new span were successfully completed connecting the two sides of the St. Lawrence River and the first locomotive crossed over the river to the south shore with two passenger cars carrying 400 passengers on October 17, 1917. The Prince of Wales officially inaugurated the Québec Bridge on August 29, 1919.


In 1929, a roadway was added to the two rail lines to accommodate the needs of residents in the Québec city area, and it operated as a toll bridge for cars from 1929 to 1942. In 1949, the federal authorities decided to change the configuration of the decks by repurposing one of the rail lines for car traffic. To meet the growing traffic between the shores, a third roadway was added in 1993.


The bridge is both an architectural gem and a national historical site. On May 23, 1987, the Québec Bridge was designated a Historical Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers to highlight the technical challenge of its construction at the beginning of the century. At the time, this honour had been awarded to only four other civil engineering works worldwide. On January 24, 1996, the Government of Canada designated the Québec Bridge a National Historic Site, recognizing it as the most important bridge in the history of Canadian civil engineering.


Today, the bridge continues to allow passengers and goods to move freely between the two shores and the rest of North America. Over 35,000 vehicles, including 270 transit buses, and approximately 8 VIA passenger trains and 5 CN freight trains cross the Québec Bridge every day.

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Web: Infrastructure Canada

SOURCE Infrastructure Canada

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