Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | January 29, 2014

Artifact of the Week. Ceremonial Scissors for Cornwall – Massena, International Bridge opening.

beattSilver presentation scissors used by Cornwall Mayor L.G. Lavigne to cut the ribbon for the official opening of the Cornwall – Massena International Bridge.


Mayor Thomas Bushnell of Massena, left, and Mayor L.G. Lavigne of Cornwall, right cut the ceremonial ribbon for the official opening of the Cornwall – Massena International Bridge, December 1st, 1958.

scan01491960s pamphlet for the Massena – Cornwall Bridge.  Okay, I know what you are asking.  This doesn’t look anything like Cornwall’s Bridge.  That is because it isn’t.  There are two bridges.  One linking Massena, New York one Cornwall Island, and one linking Cornwall Island with Cornwall.  The south or American span opened first.  The north or Canadian span opened on July 3, 1962.  It is this bridge that has just been replaced.

Here are some of the construction photographs of the construction of the Seaway International Bridge.  If you are really interested in the building of the bridge, the Cornwall Community Museum’s archives have the engineer’s daily photographs from August 31, 1959 to October 5, 1960.  These photograph were generously donated by K.D. Morawski, resident engineer responsible for the supervision of the construction of bridge’s piers.

scan0153                          November 25, 1959, the north bank is on the left.

scan0151                                                       January 9, 1961.


scan0152                                                             April 7, 1961.


The 1,642 metre long north span of the Seaway International Bridge opened to traffic on July 3, 1962.  The roadway is 8.2 metres wide and provided a 36.6 metre clearance from the canal below.

Many people question why the bridge was made so high?

It was built to accommodate an all Canadian Seaway.  If you go west to the R.H Saunders hydro station and dam you will see the start of Canadian locks in the levee.   This is an interesting example of Canadian chauvinism that cost millions of dollars and led to the construction of an unnecessarily tall bridge, as the Americans had long agreed that the Eisenhower Locks in Massena were open to Canadians.  At the beginning of negotiations there was some controversy over the location of the International Locks, but by the time the Cornwall Bridge had been started it was a dead issue.

©Cornwall Community Museum

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In The Wood House at the waterfront, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

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