Miramichi’s Centennial Bridge marks 50 years as ‘lifeline’ – New Brunswick

Today marks a special day for one of Miramichi’s largest residents. 

The Centennial Bridge — a stretching more than one kilometre across the Miramichi River — turns 50.

Built as a vital link between northern and southern New Brunswick, it’s been an equally vital bridge among communities that now make up the city of Miramichi.

“It marks my home,” said Thelma Williston, 89, who watched the bridge as it was built just outside her front door.

Thelma Williston, 89, says the noise from the bridge’s construction is a vivid memory. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

“They almost decided to build to where we had just bought our house, but thankfully they decided to move it down just one more street.” 

When the Centennial Bridge was opened five decades ago, connecting Douglastown and Chatham and replacing a ferry, it was part of Canada’s 100th birthday celebrations. 

This year, the steel bridge got a fresh coat of paint to ring in its own milestone birthday, part of a more than $80 million restoration project. 

But it’s well-worth the cost, according to Williston, who said the racket of the bridge construction stands out the most in her memory.  

Workers dangle from the Miramichi Centennial Bridge during its construction more than five decades ago. (Submitted by William Brennan)

“It was so noisy,” she said. “Because they had to drive that steel piling down into the bottom of the river. So that went on all summer. Nobody got too much sleep because that went on day and night.”  

William Brennan, a local historian and collector of Miramichi history, wakes up to the super-structure outside his window every day. 

“To Ski-Doo underneath of it in the winter and to boat under it in the summer, and to see this from a distance, it’s just the best part of the Miramichi to me,” he said. “And it’s home to me as well.” 

Brennan, whose Miramichi history collection, includes dozens of postcards of the Centennial Bridge…

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