The Wallace Avenue Footbridge is located between Wallace Ave and Dundas St W in the Junction Triangle and West Bend neighbourhoods of Toronto.
Joining Two Neighbourhoods
Built in 1907, the bridge was constructed to give pedestrians access between the two streets in an area with a busy railway corridor running through it. The West Bend neighbourhood sits to the west of the railway lines and the Junction Triangle to its east. The overhead walkway was designed and constructed by the Ontario Bridge Company at the cost of $4,500.
A Rare Example of a Warren Pony Truss Bridge
The Wallace Avenue Footbridge is a multi-span, steel Warren pony truss footbridge. So what does that mean?
A pony truss bridge has two sides, is elevated, and its sides are not connected to each other at the top.
Warren is the style of the sides of the bridge consisting of a series of triangles set in opposite directions. For extra strength, verticals were added to support the top and bottom of each triangle (there’s a diagram below).
The Wallace Avenue Footbridge features a three-truss span and a wood deck. Steel bents support it on concrete footings. Most footbridges cross at a right angle; however, this one is unique because it crosses at an oblique angle. Its centre truss is taller and longer than the two trusses that flank it.
A Short-Term Solution
The bridge was supposed to be a temporary crossing until the railway underpasses at Bloor St W and Dupont St were completed in 1925.
Officials chose this style of pedestrian bridge since its construction was strong yet economical. Materials could be used efficiently and put together piece by piece, which helps keep the costs down.
Also known as the Wallace Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, it was never taken down because it was so well-used. The once temporary footbridge became an area landmark, and today, it continues to join the two neighbourhoods on both sides of the tracks. It’s also on the city’s heritage property list.
West Toronto Junction
In the mid-1800s, railway tracks were laid through the area. Several industrial businesses, factories and warehouses were established along and around the rail lines. The area was initially known as the Village of West Toronto “Junction” because of the rail lines that crossed each other near Davenport and Weston Rd.
The jobs brought in many workers, so homes and neighbourhoods, including those in West Bend and the Junction Triangle, were built for their families.
The village then became a town drawing more and more residents and businesses, including taverns and hotels. In 1908, the growing area became the City of West Toronto. Just one year later, West Toronto amalgamated with the City of Toronto.
The Junction Triangle & West Bend
Junction Triangle is named after the area’s triangular shape created by the three railway corridors that border its east, west and north sides.
The West Bend neighbourhood sits to the west of the curve of the railway line.
Realigning the Stairs
In 2017, the long staircase sloping from the bridge’s deck down to Wallace Ave was replaced. A new stairwell was installed on that east side to accommodate the Wallace Walk Townhome development and the new Sousa Mendes St.
Did You Know?
- The Wallace Avenue Footbridge was the first project designed by the Ontario Bridge Company. Frazer Matthews was the company’s Chief Engineer. During the bridge’s construction, C H Rust was the City Engineer.
- From the footbridge, there are great views of Toronto, the neighbourhoods and local sights. From the bridge deck, if you look to the east, you’ll see the Canadian General Electric water tower at 224 Wallace Ave and Ward St. Looking to the south is the Ideal Aluminum Products Limited ghost sign. It’s on the nearby Dundas West Arts Building at 2466 Dundas St.
- When the pedestrian bridge was built, the railway corridor had two sets of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) lines and one set of Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) lines. Today, two sets of those lines are used by Metrolinx, and the third was converted into the West Toronto Railpath.
- The West Toronto Railpath is a car-free multi-use trail for walking, cycling, running and more. It features various types of murals, sculptures and temporary art installations, as well as an ecosystem of hearty plants. It runs along a 2.1 km stretch of abandoned rail line in the Junction Triangle.
- Just north of the Junction Triangle and West Bend areas is The Junction neighbourhood. It was originally an area where Aboriginal trading trails met. Railway tracks were laid following those ancient routes.
- In the early 1900s, the citizens of West Toronto Junction were growing tired of the wild behaviour going on in their town. So in 1904, they voted to prohibit the sale of alcohol. There were a number of rejected plebiscites over the years, and after nearly a century, residents of the area decided the dry spell was over.
Wallace Avenue Footbridge Photos
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: Wallace Avenue Footbridge
- Heritage Toronto: Wallace Avenue Pedestrian Bridge
- Heritage Toronto (plaque)
- City of Toronto: Construction Notice Contract #: 15ECS-TI-02BE
- The Globe Newspaper Archives: Jan 5, 1904, pg 12
- The Globe Newspaper Archives: May 1, 1909, pg 18
- The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Feb 3, 1998, pg A11
- Friends of the West Toronto Railpath
- The Junction
- Structure Magazine: The Warren Truss
- Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & Toronto Public Library
- Street Photo: Google Maps
- Vintage Map: West Toronto Junction and Vicinity 1886 by Speight & Van Nostrand courtesy of Toronto Public Library
- Vintage Map: Atlas of the City of Toronto 1910 by Chas E Goad courtesy of Toronto Public Library