If you feel like a short walk and a view into British Columbia's
past, visit the Alexandra Bridge just south of Boston
Bar on Trans-Canada Hwy 1. Located only 21 km (13 miles) south
from Boston Bar and 11 km (7 miles) north of Yale, Alexandra Bridge
Provincial Park is the site of a historic suspension bridge that
crosses a narrow channel on the Fraser River.
The Halkomelum (Stalo) and Lower Thompson First Nations used this
natural river corridor as historic fishing grounds for over 12,000
years. The site proved ideal for the indigenous people for catching
the bountiful salmon migrating up the Fraser River. The salmon species
providing food for the natives included Chum, Coho, Pink and Sockeye
and Spring salmon.
As the Europeans entered Western Canada, explorer Simon Fraser's
expedition in British Columbia found his way down through the Fraser
River in 1808 and recognized the importance of this crossing point.
Later the site was used by the Hudson's Bay Company as part of the
Anderson Brigade Trail for travel throughout British Columbia's
gold fields in the Cariboo.
Alexandra of Wales
Eventually with the flood of people entering the interior of BC
because of the Cariboo gold rush the need for a permanent crossing
was required. Pioneer Joseph W. Trutch, under contract, built the
original bridge in 1861 as part of the Cariboo Wagon Road. The spectacular
suspension bridge was named after Princess Alexandra of Wales who
became the Queen of Edward V11.
Joseph William Trutch who lived from 1826-1904 was one of British
Columbia's first civil engineers and building contractor who helped
construct various infrastructure projects along the West Coast of
British Columbia. In time, Joseph William Trutch went on to serve
as the first Lieutenant Governor of the Province of British Columbia
from 1871-1876. There is a stone cairn in his honour on the west
side of the present-day Alexandra Bridge on Trans-Canada Hwy 1.
The Alexandra Bridge that stands in the provincial park was built
in 1925 to replace the original structure which ceased its useful
existence in 1912. Built on the original 1863 abutments, the bridge
is situated near Spuzzum by 2 km (1.3 miles) on the west side to
just below the site of the Alexandra Lodge on the east.
There is a short trail that you will have to take from the parking
lot down a slight hill to the abandoned Alexandra Bridge suspension
bridge. The Bridge Trail follows the original Fraser Canyon Highway
that dates back from the mid 1920's. To get to the bridge you will
also have to cross the Canadian National Railway (CN) right-of-way.
The Bridge Trail will take you around 15 minutes or so from the
parking lot to the bridge.
If you do take the walk to the Alexandra Bridge, just remember that
the walk down the hill might be hard on you if you are not in good
health. In addition, when you do have to cross the CN railway tracks,
the crossing is non-supervised with approximately four trains per
hour using the tracks. Just remember because of trains not being
required to brake, there is the possibility of a train coming suddenly
upon you. Please be safe.
Once you're at the bridge you will able to cross over to the west
side of the Fraser River. There are some incredible views through
the open grade honeycombed style bridge deck of the swirling rapids
underneath the Alexandra Bridge as the Fraser River flows through
a rock corridor. Once on the other side, you can walk along the
rocky shore for some excellent views of the bridge and the present-day
Alexandra Bridge, that opened in 1965.
If you do happen to be travelling east on the Trans-Canada Hwy 1
from Alexandra Provincial Park towards Boston Bar, you will pass
across the historic Alexandra Lodge. Long a site for weary people
travelling on the Fraser Canyon in the past, the Alexandra Lodge
has a long historic presence along Hwy 1. There is a small cemetery
near the old building that contains graves of past pioneers.
on Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park