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Story behind Halifax Harbour's two forgotten bridges

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According to historian Blair Beed, more than 130 years ago in the Victorian era of the 1880s and 1890s, it was a busy time for Halifax during the boom of the industrial age.

"So they really needed more transportation links and they picked the railway as a way to do it," said Beed. "A bridge across the narrow part of the harbour was the way to do it."

At first the bridge was a major success.

"It was a busy bridge," said Beed, who added some Indigenous people at the time did not approve of the structure.

Based on 19th century lore a curse was placed on the harbour and on the bridge.

"Three times it will rise and three times will fall," said Beed of the supposed curse. "The first with wind, the second with silence and the third with lots of blood."

The first bridge disappeared during a major storm in 1891. It was replaced by a second bridge that quietly sank into the ocean in the dark of night in 1893. There were no injuries or lives lost.

The A Murray Mackay Bridge was built on the same site as the first two that were washed away.

"Though the MacDonald is the third built," said Beed. "They actually had a chief come and remove the curse at that time, in 1955."

Dartmouth historian David Jones pointed out that many still refer to both structures as the 'old' and 'new' bridges.

"We can now talk about the old, old bridge, and the old, old, old bridge," said Jones.

Jones said there is also a Dartmouth historic connection to the construction of the first train bridge.

"The first harbour bridge from 1884 was actually manufactured by Starr Manufacturing here in downtown Dartmouth," said Jones. "That is the company that is known all around the world for making skates."

Starr Manufacturing, said Jones, provided the steel for the first of the two long lost harbour train bridges.

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