As of 2015, the number of covered bridges in Canada was under 200 total. The West Montrose Covered Bridge, also known as the “Kissing Bridge,” was constructed between 1880-1881. It happens to be the last remaining covered bridge in Ontario. The bridge got its unique name from the privacy afforded by the enclosed space for travelers.
This 198-foot long bridge spans the Grand River and was constructed of oak and pine by John Bear. At the time, it was supported by 15 wooden piles that allowed it to stand strong for several decades. Coal lamps were originally used to light the interior at night until electric lights were installed in 1950.
Over the years, the bridge has undergone several renovations to improve its sturdiness and to ensure its survival. Concrete and steel supports were installed, allowing the bridge to be enjoyed and used by pedestrians, bikers, and vehicles under three tons.
This area of Ontario was originally settled by Dutch and Scottish settlers from Pennsylvania. It’s believed that Andrew L. Anderson, a newspaper editor, named the village after his hometown of Montrose in Scotland. In 1865, West was added to the name to distinguish the settlement from Montrose in Welland County.
Today, around 257 people live in the community and Old Order Mennonites can still be seen driving their buggies over the bridge. Visiting the area can certainly feel like taking a step back in time. In August of 1960, the bridge was designated as a Provincial Historic Site. In 2017, it was officially added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places.
In 2019, the Canada Post released 480,000 commemorative postage stamps showcasing the bridge. Not long after, the bridge was closed due to a crack in a wooden support beam. It has since been reopened to foot traffic and was fully repaired in November 2019.
Know Before You Go
The area around the bridge features some lovely old cottages and there is a parking lot with limited spaces within a few feet of the south end of the bridge. North of the bridge is the small town of West Montrose, which features a general store, gift shop and church.
In Guelph, Ontario another covered bridge was built with traditional methods in 1992. It is for foot traffic only.