Photo of the collapse of the Quebec City Bridge
Photo of the collapse of the Quebec City Bridge
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Quebec Bridge Collapse

When the huge uncompleted span of the St Lawrence cantilever bridge near Quebec fell into the river on August 29th last, one of the greatest engineering undertakings of the century became a disastrous failure and its awful collapse cost the lives of nearly 100 of its builders..

For some six years this enormous bridge has been under construction and the progress made upon it being watched with wonder by the whole engineering world, for some of the features of its design were of such remarkable character as to be the subject of universal discussion. The design of the bridge specified a total length of 3,000 feet between the anchorage piers and included two five hundred foot anchor spans, extending from the anchor piers to the main piers of the towers, and the two five hundred and sixty foot cantilever arms, reaching out to hold between them the tremendous central suspected span, six hundred and seventy feet long.

High above the St. Lawrence River, on a hot August day in 1907, a worker named Beauvais was driving rivets into the great southern span of the Quebec Bridge. Near the end of a long day, he noticed that a rivet that he had driven no more than an hour before had snapped clean in two. Just as he called out to his foreman to report the disquieting news, the scream of twisting metal pierced the air. The giant cantilever dropped out from under them, crashing into the river with such force that people in the city of Quebec, 10 km away, believed that an earthquake had struck.

The Quebec Bridge Disaster:
The Titanic of Bridges

The collapse of the Quebec Bridge in 1907 (a component of the Canadian Transcontinental Railway Project) was a big event in both Quebec and Canadian history, with 76 deaths and a great let down for this was to be the world's greatest bridge. (A foreshadowing of the Titanic disaster, one might say.) With respect to 'the Nicholson Family Saga' it likely put an important spin on things. Although the event is not mentioned in the letters, Norman went to work on the railway in September 1907 (coincidence?) and Margaret's fears for his safety were likely increased greatly by the event. It also impacted on them in another way. It affected the Quebec Budget for 1912. It is not likely they knew any of the Mohawk men who died in the accident.