Latch­ford home to short cov­ered bridge

North Bay Nugget - - NEWS - By Bill Steer Back Roads Bill ex­plores the back roads and back wa­ters of North­ern On­tario Satur­day’s in The Nugget. Bill Steer is the founder of the Cana­dian Ecol­ogy Cen­tre, www.cana­di­ane­col­ He teaches part time at Nipiss­ing Univer­sity and Canadore

Its slo­gan is The Best Lit­tle Town by a Dam Site!

Latch­ford has about 400 peo­ple and is rich in her­itage. I stopped by its Mu­seum of Mem­o­ries on a Satur­day. The con­ge­nial long­time Mayor Ge­orge Lefebvre made the time dur­ing a horse­shoe tour­na­ment and pro­vided more in­for­ma­tion. He has been the mayor for 42 years and knows his “stuff.

The first gem is the In­dige­nous fam­ily photo taken circa 1890 hang­ing on the south wall on the sec­ond floor of the mu­seum.

The in­scrip­tion from former Chief Gary Potts of Bear (Mako­min­is­ing) Is­land, Lake Temagami de­scribes this as a “smok­ing tent” for wild game. The photo orig­i­nally hung on the wall of the A.B. Gor­don Mill taken by C.C. Farr, founder of nearby Hai­ley­bury.

Check out the fos­sils from Daw­son Point, and the lightbulb in­ven­tor Thomas Edi­son’s pres­ence as a nearby mine owner.

When you look around, you find the world’s short­est cov­ered bridge on Mowat Av­enue.

“It came to be be­cause we uti­lized ex­ca­vated fill from the trench es re­cov­ered dur­ing the in­stal­la­tion of wa­ter and sewage in 1975. It was pre­vi­ously a swamp. So utiliz­ing a win­ter works pro­gram grant and local un­em­ployed work­ers, we cre­ated the world’ s short­est cov­ered bridge de­signed by then Coun. Ce­cil Con­roy.”

Then there is the ded­i­cated high­way bridge.

“Queens Own Ri­fles Branch 344, Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Toronto and Sgt. Aubrey Cosens Branch 629, RCL, Latch­ford sup­ported by the Town of Latch­ford lob­bied the gov­ern­ment of Bill Davis to name the bridge af­ter Sgt Aubrey Cosens who had en­listed from Latch­ford and won the Vic­to­ria Cross (one of 16 won by Cana­di­ans in the Sec­ond World War),” Lefebvre says.

“That gov­ern­ment re­fused be­cause no provin­cially owned struc­ture was ever named for any­one other than a politi­cian. But when the David Peter­son gov­ern­ment took over, Branch 344 pres­i­dent Gus Goutowski de­ter­mined that Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Ed Ful­ton’s father was a mem­ber of the Queens Own. The Sgt. Aubrey Cosens VC Bridge in Latch­ford be­came the first provin­cially owned struc­ture ever named for any­one other than a politi­cian. The crowd that day was es­ti­mated to be in the range of 3,000.”

You might re­mem­ber when the High­way 11 bridge col­lapsed?

“It was Jan­uary 2003 and Latch­ford CAO Lynn God­den heard a loud bang and looked out her of­fice win­dow to watch the south­bound truck, the last to drive over the bridge. Af­ter traf­fic was re-routed through Que­bec and down High­way 144, in a cou­ple of weeks there was a tem­po­rary bai­ley bridge in place. But it was into 2006 be­fore the Sgt. Cosens was open to traf­fic.”

There is a re­con­structed dam span­ning the Mon­treal River.

“The orig­i­nal dam was com­pleted in time for nav­i­ga­tion sea­son in 1912 which was the last year the big boats car­ried freight and pas­sen­gers be­tween Latch­ford and Elk Lake. The dam was in­tended to aid nav­i­ga­tion through Pork Rapids and the old dam and the dredg­ing of Pork Rapids (in­cluded in the con­tract) cost a lit­tle north of $23,000 and the con­tract was signed by Wil­frid Lau­rier, later to be­come Sir. The new dam cost well north of $25 mil­lion.”

What is the story be­hind the com­mu­nity’s slo­gan?

“My Grade 1 teacher, Edith Ra­bil­lard, en­tered the slo­gan in a con­test in 1967 and was the hands­down win­ner. We have used it ever since and were one of the first towns to add a slo­gan to our en­try pop­u­la­tion signs when the prov­ince al­lowed that.”

Go for a tour and call Lefebvre at 705-648-8298.

Bill Steer Photo

Latch­ford is home to the world’s short­est cov­ered bridge.

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