The Manitoulin Connection: Swing Bridge Stories

EDITOR’S NOTE–This is the current installment of a series that will focus on Manitoulin’s iconic swing bridge which, in 2013, will celebrate a century of service as Manitoulin Island’s physical, year-round link with the mainland.

This series, which will lead up to festivities planned around next year’s centennial event, seeks to give early twenty-first Manitoulin people a sense of the construction of the bridge and the coming of a rail link to the North Shore.

Anyone with memories or anecdotes to share about the swing bridge may do so by emailing editor@manitoulin.ca or by phoning The Expositor office at 705-368-2744 and asking for Robin Burridge.

This week’s installment of The Manitoulin Connection was submitted to us by Ann McGregor of Birch Island.

by Ann McGregor

Owning a busy marina and campground and raising two young sons back in the late ‘70s created very active days for my husband and I. Living a few steps from the shoreline of McGregor Bay, our children’s safety was our main concern as they learned to walk. Our first rule was that when the boys were dressed in the morning that their life jackets were always put on. Donning their jackets was as routine as putting on their shoes. Their life jackets stayed on until bedtime when at the marina.

One warm summer day, I loaded the kids into the car for a quick trip into Little Current. As luck would have it, the bridge was in the process of opening so we joined the line of cars to wait for the bridge to close again. As usual when waiting at the bridge, my boys would open the back window and hang out to watch the boats travelling up and down the channel. (This was before the time of strict children’s car seats laws.) Ahead of us was a vehicle from Tennessee whose driver had gotten out to stretch his legs and watch the bridge and boats, as the tourists like to do. He looked our way and proceeded to approach us. In his Southern drawl he said, “Now boys, tell me whether it is the bridge or your mother’s driving that you don’t trust that would cause you to wear a life jacket while crossing the bridge?”