Making connections in nineteenthcentury Ontario.
Digging through ancestral papers, we came across this photo of working men pausing for a proud moment upon a bridge they were helping to build. The fashions and telegraph poles suggest the latter part of the nineteenth century.
My husband’s kin lived then in Ontario’s Newcastle and Bond Head areas, and the Clarke family included several generations of carpenters — so a relative may be among them.
As a Clarke descendant and twenty-first-century construction carpenter, my husband, Kelly Clark Reid, has also built regional bridges and infrastructure — so the image resonated with us. And we were intrigued by the many nearby barrels, which perhaps contained explosive material needed to blast through the rock.
Contacting local historians helped us to learn more. Beverly Jeeves of the Newcastle Village & District Historical Society explained: “The bridge is called the ‘Subway’ here in town. Its location is on Mill Street South, just south of [Highway] 401 at our exit.
“It looks very different now, as they just added a pedestrian walkway next to the opening for vehicles. The railway tracks are still used today for CN. Just to the east of the railway is ‘Hunter Creek,’ and there is a small bridge above the creek. It is obscured by the Hunter House and not easy to access.”
Sharing family history helps to expand the history of our communities. We encourage others to share their personal archival treasures with local historical groups.
Submitted by Anne Elspeth Rector, her family’s historian and the wife of Kelly Clark Reid. They reside in Belleville, Ontario.