Ontario’s only covered bridge is undergoing some maintenance over the next two weeks as the Region of Waterloo teams up with the West Montrose Residents’ Association, the BridgeKeepers, to paint the interior of the historic structure.
The iconic West Montrose “kissing bridge” was built in 1881 across the Grand River on the road between Guelph and Elmira. Signs along Line 86 appeared this week indicating the bridge will be closed starting June 11 intermittently for two weeks for the maintenance.
Volunteers recruited through the BridgeKeepers organization are painting the interior with materials and supervision provided by the region.Organizers expect it will take 15 volunteers to get the work done by June 23.
“Over the years the inside has had a lot of wear and tear and all that white tongue-and-groove wood needs to be repainted,” said Tom Reitz, manager of the Waterloo Region Museum. “There is some graffiti and dirt that needs to be cleaned as well as the odd coffee stains here and there. The bridge just needs a good clean and a new interior paint job.”
As part of the cleanup, the BridgeKeepers are encouraging local artists to come out and paint the bridge on their own canvasses. Children are invited to paint miniature wooden models of the bridge supplied by the residents’ group.
“Local residents have always played a part in maintaining the bridge, and they take a lot of pride in doing so,” said Tony Dowling, spokesperson for the BridgeKeepers. “For the last three years the BridgeKeepers have done a spring cleaning on
the bridge, getting rid of the winter dirt, cobwebs and manure that built up. This year the region is doing that and we will be responsible for painting all the interior white wood that runs along the side of the bridge.”
“The bridge is the centerpiece of our community and although it’s owned by the Region of Waterloo, I think everyone in (West Montrose) thinks of it as their own.”
The Region of Waterloo has owned and maintained the bridge since 1998. Last year the region was thinking about adding load sensors and cameras to the bridge to protect it from unauthorized oversized loads from passing trucks but no decision has been made on that front as of yet, said Reitz.
People over the age of 17 who are interested in volunteering to paint the bridge can contact Tony Dowling at firstname.lastname@example.org.