Dominion Bridge Company

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The Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River, which the Dominion Bridge Company helped construct. Alexandra Bridge2.JPG
The Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River, which the Dominion Bridge Company helped construct.

Dominion Bridge Company Limited was a Canadian steel bridge constructor originally based in Lachine, Quebec. From the core business of steel bridge component fabrication, the company diversified into related areas such as the fabrication of holding tanks for pulp mills and skyscraper framing.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Steel alloy made by combining iron and other elements

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, and sometimes other elements. Because of its high tensile strength and low cost, it is a major component used in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, automobiles, machines, appliances, and weapons.

Bridge structure built to span physical obstacles

A bridge is a structure built to span a physical obstacle, such as a body of water, valley, or road, without closing the way underneath. It is constructed for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle, usually something that can be detrimental to cross otherwise. There are many different designs that each serve a particular purpose and apply to different situations. Designs of bridges vary depending on the function of the bridge, the nature of the terrain where the bridge is constructed and anchored, the material used to make it, and the funds available to build it.


Other Canadian plants were located in Amherst, NS, Toronto, ON, Winnipeg, MB, Regina, SK, Saskatoon, SK, Calgary, AB, Edmonton, AB, Richmond, BC and Burnaby, BC. In the 1960s and 1970s, Dominion Bridge expanded internationally and renamed itself AMCA International (AMCA name effective June 1, 1981). This name was later changed to United Dominion Industries. To keep name recognition alive, the company continued to call its Canadian division 'Dominion Bridge'. Between 1979-1988, the company's Lachine plant operated under the auspices of a subsidiary called Dominion Bridge-Sulzer Inc., which was co-owned by AMCA International and Sulzer Inc.

Amherst, Nova Scotia Town in Nova Scotia, Canada

Amherst is a town in northwestern Nova Scotia, Canada. Amherst is located at the northeast end of the Cumberland Basin, an arm of the Bay of Fundy, at 22 km south of the Northumberland Strait. Amherst is situated on the eastern boundary of the Tantramar Marshes 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) east of the interprovincial border with New Brunswick and 65 kilometres (40 mi) southeast of the city of Moncton. It is 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of the New Brunswick abutment of the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island at Cape Jourimain. Amherst is the county seat and largest population centre in the Cumberland region.

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe, an urban agglomeration of 9,245,438 people surrounding the western end of Lake Ontario. Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Regina, Saskatchewan Provincial capital city in Saskatchewan, Canada

Regina is the capital city of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The city is the second-largest in the province, after Saskatoon, and a cultural and commercial centre for southern Saskatchewan. It is governed by Regina City Council. The city is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Sherwood No. 159.

The Dominion Bridge facility in Burnaby, BC operated from 1930 until the mid-1970s at a 15-acre (61,000 m2) property located at 2400 Boundary Road. After being sold, this property was repurposed to become The Bridge Studios, the site of the largest special effects stage in North America.


In 1886, the company began to build a cantilevered bridge over the St. Lawrence River for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Because part of the bridge lay in the reservation of the Kahnawake and Akwesasne Mohawks, the Mohawks demanded jobs on the project. The company planned to use them as unskilled labour but they climbed all over the bridge, without fear, and asked to become riveters. They proved to have a remarkable aptitude for the work and by the end of the project there were 70 iron and steel riveters in the Kahnawake band, who went on to work on projects throughout Canada.

Canadian Pacific Railway Major class 1 railroad operating in Canada and the U.S.

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), also known formerly as CP Rail between 1968 and 1996, and known as simply Canadian Pacific is a historic Canadian Class I railroad incorporated in 1881. The railroad is owned by Canadian Pacific Railway Limited, which began operations as legal owner in a corporate restructuring in 2001.

Kahnawake Indian reserve in Quebec, Canada

The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory is a First Nations reserve of the Mohawks of Kahnawá:ke on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada, across from Montreal. Recorded by French Canadians in 1719 as a Jesuit mission, it has also been known as Seigneury Sault du St. Louis, Caughnawaga and 17 European spelling variations of the Mohawk Kahnawake.

Akwesasne Mohawk Territory

The Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne is a Mohawk Nation (Kanien'kehá:ka) territory that straddles the intersection of international borders and provincial boundaries on both banks of the St. Lawrence River. Most of the land and population are in what is otherwise the present-day Canada. A small portion is also in the United States. Although divided by an international border, the residents consider themselves to be one community. They maintain separate police forces due to jurisdictional issues and national laws.

In 1890 civil engineer for various railways James Ross replaced Job Abbott as president of the company. Although credited to the drive of Ross, vice-president James Pawley Dawes lead the developed via joint-venture the St Lawrence Bridge Company to construct the Quebec Bridge. George Herrick Duggan joined the Engineering Department in 1886, becoming Chief Engineer in 1901, and rose to become President of the company. Another notable employee was Philip Louis Pratley, a Persons of National Historic Significance.

James Ross (Canadian businessman) Canadian civil engineer, businessman and philanthropist

James Leveson Ross, of Montreal, was a Scottish-born Canadian civil engineer, businessman and philanthropist. He established his fortune predominantly through railway construction, notably for the Canadian Pacific Railway, of which he was the major shareholder, and advising Lord Strathcona on railway projects in Argentina and Chile. He oversaw the electrification of street railways in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saint John, Birmingham (England), Mexico City and São Paulo. He was president of the Dominion Bridge Company, the Mexican Power Company etc. He was Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the 17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars and Governor of McGill University and the Royal Victoria Hospital. He was an avid collector of the Old Masters and president of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. He owned several yachts including two named Glencairn and became the first Canadian to be made a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron. He funded the construction of the Ross Memorial Wing at the Royal Vic; the Ross Memorial Hospital and Nurse's Home at Lindsay, Ontario; and the Protestant Hospital for the Insane at Verdun, Quebec. He lived in the Golden Square Mile.

Job Abbott civil engineer

Job Abbott was an American-born Canadian civil engineer who helped pioneer the construction of steel bridges in Canada, including many for the Canadian Pacific Railway, such as the 3,400 ft Lachine Bridge in Montreal, Quebec.

Quebec Bridge Saint Lawrence River crossing bridge, between Quebec City and Levis, Quebec

The Quebec Bridge is a road, rail and pedestrian bridge across the lower Saint Lawrence River between Sainte-Foy and Lévis, Quebec, Canada. The project failed twice, at the cost of 88 lives, and took over 30 years to complete.

Minto Bridge in Ottawa, built in 1900 Minto Bridge Centre southwest end in 2015.jpg
Minto Bridge in Ottawa, built in 1900

In 1898 the Dominion Bridge Company was awarded the contract to design and build the Alexandra Bridge, one of Canada's most notable bridges. At the time of completion in 1901 the Alexandra Bridge was the fourth longest cantilever span in the world. [1]

Alexandra Bridge bridge in Gatineau, Canada

The Royal Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge is a steel truss cantilever bridge spanning the Ottawa River between Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. It is known locally as both the "Alexandra Bridge" and the "Interprovincial Bridge".

Dominion Bridge opened a manufacturing site in Toronto at Sorauren and Wabash Avenue sometime after 1910, which later became TTC Parkdale Bus garage until 1980 then demolished in 1990s to become what is now Sorauren Avenue Park. [2] This facility provided steel for the building of the Prince Edward Viaduct. [3]

With a lowest bid of $6,954,000, the company secured the contract to erect the steel superstructure of the Jacques Cartier Bridge linking Montreal to the South Shore on October 25, 1925. The last girder was placed on 10 July 1929, seventeen months ahead of schedule [4] In 1957 and 1958 Pratley returned to the bridge as the consulting engineer when the company jacked up the span from 40 feet (12 m) to 120 feet (37 m) to enable free passage of ships on the new St. Lawrence Seaway.

The company also raised the Honoré Mercier Bridge as part of the same programme. It had built the original bridge between 1932 and 1934 using steel caissons assembled by Dufresne Engineering from plates manufactured at Dominion's Lachine yards. [5]

The company's Canadian operations experienced a major decline after work was completed on projects for Montreal's Olympic Games in 1976. The Burnaby plant was shut down in the mid-1970s and the Toronto plant was closed in 1990. Furthermore, the company reduced the scope of its Montreal-area operations between the early 1970s and 1990: the satellite facility in Montreal's Longue-Pointe district was closed, two large shops in Lachine were acquired by Sulzer Inc. after the dissolution of Dominion Bridge-Sulzer Inc., and several buildings on the property of the Lachine plant were mothballed or torn down following the dissolution. Employment at the Lachine plant alone dropped from approximately 2,000 in the early 1970s to about 250 in 1990.

In 1993, the Cedar Group (led by Michel L. Marengere) acquired United Dominion Industries' Dominion Bridge subsidiary, which was then a four-plant operation (Lachine, Amherst, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Regina). Cedar Group kept the Dominion Bridge name alive, renaming itself 'Dominion Bridge Corporation' and bundling the four plants under a subsidiary called 'Dominion Bridge, Inc.' However, in 1998 the company made a disastrous decision to purchase the bankrupt MIL-Davie shipyard in Lauzon, Quebec. The Davie purchase drained Dominion Bridge of its cash reserves and pushed the company into bankruptcy.

Later in 1998, Groupe ADF Inc, a steel company from Terrebonne, Quebec, purchased the assets of the Lachine plant and restarted operations. Employees who had been laid off following the bankruptcy, many of whom had worked at the plant for over 20 years, were re-hired to work for a new company called ADF Industries Lourdes. In November 2003, ADF closed the Lachine plant due to declining fortunes in the North American steel industry, which had been losing ground to cheaper Asian competitors for many years. To date, the Lachine plant remains closed and ADF is looking for a buyer.

Of the other three plants that survived to 1998, two were never reopened following the Dominion Bridge bankruptcy. The third, in Amherst, was purchased in November 1998 by Amherst Fabricators Limited (part of the Cherubini Group of Companies). Amherst Fabricators rehired 43 former Dominion Bridge employees and conducted a $2.1 million expansion program to add 3,000 square feet (280 m2) to the paint shop, install new roofing over exterior crane rails, and purchase new fabrication equipment. The plant reopened in May 1999.

Recent developments

On July 9, 2008, a numbered company (3010864 Canada Inc.) that had been dissolved in 2003 was revived under the name 'Dominion Bridge Inc.' Michel L. Marangere is one of two listed directors (Search for a Federal Corporation - Corporations Canada - Industry Canada. [6] To date, there have been no public communications about the objectives of this company.


The company participated in the construction of the following:

A plaque on Moberly Bridge over the Athabasca River near Jasper, Alberta, which the Dominion Bridge Company constructed. Dominion Bridge Company plaque on Moberly Bridge.png
A plaque on Moberly Bridge over the Athabasca River near Jasper, Alberta, which the Dominion Bridge Company constructed.

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  1. Archived August 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. Ergonet. "Bridges and Structures -JC-Construction". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  5. Ergonet. "Bridges and Structures - HM-Construction". Archived from the original on 2010-12-25. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  6. "Corporations Canada - Online Filing Centre". 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  7. Riga, Andy (Sep 14, 2009). "Don't cry over guaranteed pure milk bottle - it's getting a makeover". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2009-10-29.