Pandemic Bridge at Porter’s Island in Ottawa, Ontario

Porter's Island bridge, built in 1894, showcasing the original lattice railing.

Built in 1894 by Dominion Bridge Company, this defunct bridge still connects Porter’s Island to St. Patrick Street. It remains a rare example of a multi-span, pin-connected truss bridge in Ontario.

Ottawa’s first major outbreak of smallpox was reported in 1871. When the existing hospital infrastructure was deemed unsuitable for patient isolation, Porter’s Island became the new location. In 1894, an isolation hospital and bridge were constructed.

While the bridge remained intact, the hastily-built hospital fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1902. The island remained a quarantine area until the eradication of smallpox in Canada in the mid-1940s. Today, Porter’s Island is a retirement residence and long-term care facility.

The original 1894 bridge remains largely intact. The only observed alteration was pipe railings to replace the original lattice railings. A single panel of the lattice railing can be seen from the south end of the bridge.

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