There have been several fatal bridge disasters over the course of Canada’s history, some during construction, others after the bridge was in use for some time. The following is a chronological account of the worst of these tragic events, including Canada’s most fatal bridge disaster: On 29 August 1907, when 75 men were killed while working on a bridge in Québec City. (See also Highway Disasters; Railway Disasters.)

Bridge Disasters

Of the several bridges that have been built at Point Ellice to cross the harbour of Victoria, British Columbia, a wood and metal four-span structure built in 1885 was too weak for tramlines that were later built across it. Shoddy maintenance actually weakened it further. On 26 May 1896, during celebrations for the Queen's birthday, one span fell out, taking a loaded streetcar with it. Fifty-five people died in this, the worst streetcar accident in North American history.

On 17 June 1958, during construction of Vancouver's present Second Narrows Bridge, one span collapsed into Burrard Inlet, taking 18 men to their deaths. It was later concluded that design errors had been made by two engineers who were among the dead.

Construction on the Québec Bridge, 11 km above Québec City, officially began in 1900. On 29 August 1907, when the bridge was nearly finished, the southern cantilever span twisted and fell 46 m into the St Lawrence River. Seventy-five workmen, many of them Kahnawake (formerly Caughnawaga), were killed in Canada's worst bridge disaster. An inquiry established that the accident had been caused by faulty design and inadequate engineering supervision. Work was resumed, but on 11 September 1916 a new centre span being hoisted into position fell into the river, killing 13 men. The bridge was completed in 1917 and the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) officially opened it on 22 August 1919.

Ottawa’s Heron Road Bridge also collapsed during construction, on 10 August 1966. The accident killed nine men and injured nearly 60. It was later found that the bridge was insufficiently supported while the concrete was being laid.

More recently, on 30 September 2006, the de la Concorde overpass, in Laval, Québec, collapsed, killing five people and wounding six others. Around midday, a 20 m section of the bridge fell to the highway below, crushing the vehicles beneath it. Poor design, construction and management of the bridge were at fault.