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 The Narrows Bridge, Fitch Bay, Lake Memphremagog

(Photo and Text by Louise Abbott)

p-295 dsc01730-la-lightened-as-smart-object-1_vitoMore than a decade ago, Niels and I joined a subculture of "bridgers," or people who scout for covered bridges wherever they go in North America or anywhere else that has these remnants of the past.

I had conceived the idea of a feature on covered bridges in eastern Canada for Heritage magazine, and Niels and I had decided to take photographs together for the assignment. We travelled far and wide in Quebec and New Brunswick, the two provinces where covered bridges were once so prominent and where a considerable but diminishing number remain. We went to West Montrose, Ontario, too. There we happened upon Old Order Mennonites in horse-drawn buggies clattering through the only surviving historical covered bridge in the province as they drove to church on Easter Sunday. But for reasons that now elude me, we overlooked a covered bridge that we have since come to pass by regularly. It spans Lake Memphremagog at the Narrows, a channel that divides Fitch Bay into two distinct stretches of water.

In recent years, I have been collecting footage for a documentary on covered bridges in Quebec titled Driving into the Past. At last I shall have the chance to right the wrong. The Narrows Bridge will be included in the film. And so it should be: it is one of only two covered bridges in the province to cross the waters of a lake, rather than a river, although, as the appellation Narrows suggests, the span is not all that longninety-two feet (twenty-eight metres). The other such bridge runs from Nepawa Island to the shore of Lake Abitibi.

Driving into the Past will be available for screening in English or English with French subtitles in the autumn of 2018.

In the meantime, I have written a feature about the Narrows Bridge  for the 2017 edition of the Stanstead Historical Society Journal, which was published in June. I had to rewrite the original ending to my story because of some wonderful news: In  March of 2017, the municipality of Stanstead Township learned that the Quebec government intended to classify the bridge as a heritage property, calling it an architectural jewel and citing its age, its location over lake waters, its drystone abutments, and its Town lattice truss as distinctive features. The Conseil du patrimoine culturel du Québec, tthe provincial cultural heritage council, will study the matter and make a recommendation to the government on whether or not to finalize the classification. It may take up to one year before the decision is made public.


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