West Montrose Covered Bridge (Kissing Bridge)
The West Montrose covered bridge is recognized as a historic site by Ontario's Archeological & Historic Sites Board. It is Ontario's last remaining covered bridge and has a 198' span across the Grand River. Visitors come from all over the world to see and photograph this picturesque bridge.
The roof over the bridge served to protect the large timbers and trusses from the elements, and this is also the reason the bridge is still standing after more than 100 years. Uncovered wooden bridges have a life span of only 10 to 15 years because exposure to rain causes unprotected joints to rot in summer and freeze in the winter; the hot sun causes the wooden planks to dry and curl. Applying oil and tar to preserve the floor made the surface slippery when wet. Horses fear rushing water and would often become spooked as they approached bridges. A horse will trot up to the opening of a covered bridge and clip-clop through, reassured by the side walls and the light at the end of the tunnel.
The bridge was built in 1881 and underwent major repairs in 1999. Light traffic is still crossing the bridge daily including horse and buggies. The bridge
is often referred to as "The Kissing Bridge" because it is enclosed and the soft light provides a feeling of intimacy for the romantic.
The blue sign erected by Ontario Heritage Foundation, to the right of the bridge opening reads:
This structure, the only remaining covered bridge in Ontario was designed by John Bear in 1880, on the authority of Woolwich Township Council, to replace an earlier bridge over the Grand River. Built a year later by John and his brother, Benjamin, the 198-foot bridge was covered to protect the wooden flooring and frame against the elements. Known locally as the Kissing Bridge, it later came under the jurisdiction of Waterloo County. In 1937 the province assumed responsibility for the Guelph-Elmira Road, including the West Montrose Bridge, and its floor and sub-structure were subsequently rebuilt and reinforced.