On October 2nd, a final push from members of Canada’s Armed Forces helped conclude the tireless work of countless volunteers across the province by making The Great Trail 100% connected in Saskatchewan. The final segment in the province’s Trail connection – the Wakamow Valley Suspension Bridge – was built by Canadian Army Reservists from 38 Combat Engineer Regiment and 38 Canadian Brigade Group in September 2016 as part of a training exercise.
Designed by Wakamow Valley Authority staff, the suspension bridge is based on a bridge built in 1971 by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration at the Souris River Bull Station near Estevan. The purpose of that bridge was to give cowboys a ready means to cross the river. The Wakamow Valley Suspension Bridge now enables Trail visitors to move uninterrupted along a path that not only spans Saskatchewan, but ultimately the entire country.
Commanding Officer LCol Paul Davies describes project and Forces involvement
LCol Paul Davies, CD, P.Eng is the Commanding Officer 38 Combat Engineer Regiment (CO 38 CER), and was instrumental in the bridge’s development and construction. In this interview, he answers questions about the Wakamow Valley Suspension Bridge project and how the Canadian Forces helped.
How did the Forces get involved in this project?
Our involvement started in February 2013 when I approached the Saskatchewan Trails Association and offered our services to assist in constructing the Trans Canada Trail in Saskatchewan.
How have the Forces contributed to Great Trail projects elsewhere in Canada?
In 2003, the Trans Canada Trail and Canadian Military Engineers had a partnership called “Bridges For Canada.” This was a 3-year blitz on constructing bridges on the Trans Canada Trail. Units across the country took up the challenge and completed dozens of bridges.
How long did it take to complete the Wakamow Valley Suspension Bridge, and who worked on it?
The bridge’s construction was a partnership. Wakamow Valley Authority installed the concrete anchors through local contract and 38 Combat Engineer Regiment performed the actual bridge construction. There was some pre-assembly work done during the summer, but onsite work involved 12 days with crews varying in size from six to 35 soldiers. All soldiers were from 38 Combat Engineer Regiment, which has squadrons in Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
The Wakamow Valley Suspension Bridge stands as a result of rigorous volunteer efforts, engineering and construction expertise from the Canadian military, and donations from Canadians who wanted to see this important last piece of the Great Trail fall into place.
Wakamow Valley Suspension Bridge Specifications
Location: Spans the Moose Jaw River west of Highway 2 and East of the end of 4th Ave. SW. in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Length & Width: 6 feet wide, 144 feet long
Height: 32-foot-high timber bridge towers support the steel suspension cables that carry the weight of the timber bridge deck.
Funding: The bridge was funded by donations from Trans Canada Trail, the City of Moose Jaw and the Wakamow Valley Development Fund.
Canadian Army Reservists from 38 Combat Engineer Regiment and 38 Canadian Brigade Group, based out of Saskatoon and Winnipeg, with support from the Wakamow Valley Authority, began construction of a Pedestrian Suspension Bridge across the Moose Jaw River on Sept 15, 2016. All photos supplied by 2Lt Stacie Nelles, Public Affairs Officer, 38 CBG.