'Heart and soul of the town': Hartland celebrates iconic covered bridge

·2 min read
Hartland's covered bridge is marking 100 years with a cover. The community held a celebration on New Brunswick day, opening the bridge to foot traffic. (Submitted by Gaby Mann - image credit)
Hartland's covered bridge is marking 100 years with a cover. The community held a celebration on New Brunswick day, opening the bridge to foot traffic. (Submitted by Gaby Mann - image credit)

Crowds, vendors and musicians gathered across the Hartland covered bridge on Monday to celebrate its 100th anniversary with a cover.

The northwest New Brunswick town closed off the bridge and most of Main Street to traffic, allowing people to explore the inside of the landmark on foot.

Gaby Mann, Hartland's manager of tourism, said a steady flow of people gathered on the bridge to admire the wooden structure over the St. John River.

"This is a unique kind of excuse to actually wander through and actually look at how the bridge is constructed," she said. "You kind of forget that that thing was built without power tools."

With a 391-metre covered span, the Hartland bridge is the world's longest covered bridge and New Brunswick's most popular.

The bridge was built in 1901 after a group of private citizens wanted an alternative to using ferries to cross the river. Its grand opening was held on July 1, 1901.

At Monday's celebration, local historians put up photos of the bridge over the years. It was initially built without a cover, but a roof was added in 1922 to help protect it from the elements.

Submitted by Gaby Mann
Submitted by Gaby Mann

Hartland's bridge is one of a declining list of covered bridges in New Brunswick. The province lists 58 as remaining.

The New Brunswick Day celebration drew over 2,000 people to Hartland, according to estimates from organizers.

Shirley Dickinson, one of the organizing committee's four members, said it was important to the community to hold a big celebration for the anniversary. Planning began in February.

"Our bridge is our heart and soul of the town," she said.

Submitted by Frank Liu
Submitted by Frank Liu

Over 100 vendors set up shop with a range of goods and food inside and outside of the bridge, classic cars were on display. Live music performances from fiddlers and line dancers took place throughout the day.

Dickinson, a lifelong Hartland resident, said the crowds around the bridge helped make the small community feel "booming."

"People are out and about, it's a festive day here. It's really exciting to see people connecting, families getting together," she said.

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