Oh no, say its not so! Another classic heritage old Hamilton Township bridge at Bewdley has reached an age and condition that has raised questions about its future! Maybe you are thinking, where is this bridge called Sackville? This attractive little ‘bowstring arch’ bridge is located on what the locals refer to as the Swamp Road, and the rest of us call Cavan Road. It is located on Cavan Road midway between Oak Ridges Drive and Rice Lake Drive North leading into Bewdley Ontario. The easiest way to find it is north on Sackville Bridge Road from Oak Ridges Drive east of Bewdley Ont.
This bridge was built in 1899 to span Cold Creek that runs northbound into the Bewdley Marsh, and continues into Rice Lake. Though recognized as a heritage structure, it has not been officially designated as such yet.
The Hamilton Township Heritage Advisory Committee is currently working on achieving this goal. The bridge appears to meet most of the requirements for designation but finding the funds to carry on, is slowing the process. The problem here is that if the bridge is not officially designated as heritage, sometime in the not too distant future, major repairs will be required to save it from possible destruction. Without designation funds, the Township could face some tough decisions on its future. Two of the decisions are to completely replace the bridge (likely with a steel culvert) or make some very costly repairs (very unlikely). Other options might include closing it to east-bound traffic or closing it to all vehicular traffic!
This bridge was built of concrete, a five panel “rainbow through arch fixed” style. Its length is 41 feet with a roadway of 17.5 feet and one main span and it was built by W.C. Gibson of Port Hope, Ontario.
According to the Historic Bridge Browser, this small concrete bowstring arch bridge is the only example of its kind in Hamilton Township. Its Historical Significance rating on a scale of 1-10: National 7 and Local 7. This compares to the old historic Camborne Bridge (replaced in 2015) Camborne Ontario Bridge Update as National 4 and Local 5.
James Sackville (1845-1917) James was born on the Sackville farm and lived his life there. For many years he operated a very successful water powered saw mill here from a huge pond south of the bridge. He was known as a very religious man and a devout member of the Plymouth Brethren religious sect. James actually built a small frame church here and for some time led weekly services for the locals. In later years he converted the church into his dwelling, leading a bachelor’s life for some time. He was well known by the locals for establishing an apiary of some fifty colonies of bees that provided him with a very good living. In 1876, he married a Mrs. Porter from Port Hope and they lived in an attractive brick house (still standing) at Sackville. James also built a school, now demolished but his church still stands as a private residence on the north corner of Oak Ridges Dr. and Cavan Road.
Another notable area resident that played an important part of the Sackville saga was a Port Hope gentleman by the name of Joseph Scriven What a Friend We Have – Joseph Scriven . Like James Sackville, Joseph was a Plymouth Brethren member and preached in many local places, mostly around the streets of Port Hope. Joseph spent a lot of time living with the Sackville’s and was like a member of the family there. It was here that he supposedly penned his world famous hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. It was at the Sackville saw mill that Scriven drowned. Was he murdered or was it suicide? It was deemed likely that he slipped and fell into the mill pond and drowned in the sluice-way in six to seven feet of water at the dam.
In a perfect world, the Ranger would like to see the Sackville Bridge restored to its former glory regardless of cost. If funds cannot be realized to do this and it proves impractical to adopt other options mentioned above yes, as a last resort, close it to vehicular traffic. If necessary to save this bridge, at least find the resources necessary to make it safe for pedestrian only access, much like the historic bridge in Camborne. A great idea gleamed from the Heritage Committee website would see a small parkette built at the bridge. Then move the Joseph Scriven monument, now located only a mile away, to this site.
Was this monument (located at the corner of Oak Ridges and Rice Lake Drives) in the days of the high traffic volume of the former Hwy. 28 passing through here? It is now almost invisible, surrounded by an encroaching fence line and large trees. What is the connection now for this location?
Two of the Township’s most famous monuments (Joseph Scriven and maybe soon, the Sackville Bridge) together at Sackville because of their historic connections might even become a tourist destination for the area. Spend a few minutes at the bridge and appreciate the clean water and the vegetation (especially the abundance of wild mint) on the banks of the little known Cold Creek.