Wallace Avenue Footbridge – A Temporary Fix Becomes a Landmark

1915 - Looking southeast from Dundas St W and Abbott Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Notice there was a second staircase on the Dundas St W side of the bridge AND notice the direction of the Wallace Ave staircase
1915 – Looking southeast from Dundas St W and Abbott Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Notice there was a second staircase on the Dundas St W side of the bridge AND notice the direction of the Wallace Ave staircase (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1874)

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 a cost of $4,500.

2019 - Looking southwest towards the footbridge from the Wallace Ave stairwell over the railway corridor
2019 – Looking southwest towards the footbridge from the Wallace Ave stairwell over the railway corridor

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.

2021 - Looking east from the Wallace Avenue Footbridge towards the Canadian General Electric water tower at 224 Wallace Ave and Ward St
2021 – Looking east from the Wallace Avenue Footbridge towards the Canadian General Electric water tower at 224 Wallace Ave and Ward St

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.

2021 - Looking west towards the Bloor St W railway underpass and the West Toronto Railpath between Perth Ave and Dundas St W
2021 – Looking west towards the Bloor St W railway underpass and the West Toronto Railpath between Perth Ave and Dundas St W

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.

2022 - A south-bound Union Pearson (UP) Express train passes under the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Looking west from Wallace Ave and Sousa Mendes St. The staircase was realigned in 2017 to accommodate the new Sousa Mendes St
2022 – A south-bound Union Pearson (UP) Express train passes under the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Looking west from Wallace Ave and Sousa Mendes St. The staircase was realigned in 2017 to accommodate the new Sousa Mendes St

Realigning the Stairs

In 2017, the long staircase that slopped 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 deck of the bridge, 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 Junciton 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

Circa 1920 - Looking northeast from Dundas St W near Glenlake Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Notice the three staircases. The one on Dundas St W on the south side of the bridge still exists; however, the second on the north side has been removed. The third staircase on the Wallace Ave side
Circa 1920 – Looking northeast from Dundas St W near Glenlake Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Notice the three staircases. The one on Dundas St W on the south side of the bridge still exists; however, the second on the north side has been removed. The third staircase on the Wallace Ave side has been realigned (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 376, File 5, Item 90)
2022 - Looking northeast from Dundas St W near Glenlake Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge
2022 – Looking northeast from Dundas St W near Glenlake Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge
2021 - Looking east from the footbridge towards the Canadian General Electric water tower at 224 Wallace Ave and Ward St
2021 – Looking east from the footbridge towards the Canadian General Electric water tower at 224 Wallace Ave and Ward St
2019 - Looking southwest towards the footbridge from the Wallace Ave stairwell over the railway corridor
2019 – Looking southwest towards the footbridge from the Wallace Ave stairwell over the railway corridor
2022 - A mural by @Kizmet32 and @Francis.Pratt on a Wallace Avenue Footbridge support
2022 – A mural by @Kizmet32 and @Francis.Pratt on a Wallace Avenue Footbridge support
1915 - Looking southeast from Dundas St W and Abbott Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Notice there was a second staircase on the Dundas St W side of the bridge AND notice the direction of the Wallace Ave staircase
1915 – Looking southeast from Dundas St W and Abbott Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Notice there was a second staircase on the Dundas St W side of the bridge AND notice the direction of the Wallace Ave staircase (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1874)
2022 – Looking southeast from Dundas St W and Abbott Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge
2022 - A lamp on the Wallace Avenue Footbridge
2022 – A lamp on the Wallace Avenue Footbridge
2021 - Looking southwest from the pedestrian bridge towards the railway corridor and a northbound VIA train. In the background is the Ideal Aluminum Products Limited ghost sign on the Dundas West Arts Building at 2466 Dundas St W
2021 – Looking southwest from the pedestrian bridge towards the railway corridor and a northbound VIA train. In the background is the Ideal Aluminum Products Limited ghost sign on the Dundas West Arts Building at 2466 Dundas St W
1916 - The wood deck of the Wallace Avenue Footbridge
1916 – The wood deck of the Wallace Avenue Footbridge (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series, 84, Item 213)
2022 - Looking east along the wood deck of the footbridge
2022 – Looking east along the wood deck of the footbridge
2015 - The Wallace Ave staircase of the pedestrian bridge, prior to its realignment in 2017 to accommodate the new Sousa Mendes St
2015 – The Wallace Ave staircase of the pedestrian bridge, prior to its realignment in 2017 to accommodate the new Sousa Mendes St (Google Maps)
2022 - A south-bound Union Pearson (UP) Express train passes under the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Looking west from Wallace Ave and Sousa Mendes St. The staircase was realigned in 2017 to accommodate the new Sousa Mendes St
2022 – A south-bound Union Pearson (UP) Express train passes under the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Looking west from Wallace Ave and Sousa Mendes St. The staircase was realigned in 2017 to accommodate the new Sousa Mendes St
2019 - Wallace Avenue Footbridge with details of materials used for its construction
2019 – Wallace Avenue Footbridge with details of materials used for its construction
An example of a Warren Truss and a Warren Truss with vertical supports
An example of a Warren Truss and a Warren Truss with vertical supports
2022 - Looking south from the Wallace Avenue Footbridge towards the Ideal Aluminum Products Limited ghost sign. It’s on the nearby Dundas West Arts Building at 2466 Dundas St
2022 – Looking south from the Wallace Avenue Footbridge towards the Ideal Aluminum Products Limited ghost sign. It’s on the nearby Dundas West Arts Building at 2466 Dundas St
2021 - Looking northeast from the Dundas St W staircase of the Wallace Avenue Footbridge over the railway corridor
2021 – Looking northeast from the Dundas St W staircase of the Wallace Avenue Footbridge over the railway corridor
1932 - Looking north up Dundas St W from Glenlake Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Notice there was a second staircase on the north side of the bridge
1932 – Looking north up Dundas St W from Glenlake Ave towards the Wallace Avenue Footbridge. Notice there was a second staircase on the north side of the bridge (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 9506)
2022 - Looking up the staircase on the Dundas St W side of the Wallace Avenue Footbridge
2022 – Looking up the staircase on the Dundas St W side of the Wallace Avenue Footbridge
2022 - Looking south on the Dundas St W staircase of the footbridge. Mural by @Kizmet32 and @TimmiFuk
2022 – Looking south on the Dundas St W staircase of the footbridge. Mural by @Kizmet32 and @TimmiFuk
1951 - Looking southeast from Dundas St W and Abbott Ave towards the pedestrian overpass. Notice there was a second staircase on the Dundas St W side of the bridge
1951 – Looking southeast from Dundas St W and Abbott Ave towards the pedestrian overpass. Notice there was a second staircase on the Dundas St W side of the bridge (Toronto Public Library R-2068)
1910 - Goads Map showing the location of the Wallace Avenue Footbridge
1910 – Goads Map showing the location of the Wallace Avenue Footbridge (Toronto Public Library)
2021 - A map outlining the West Bend and Junction Triangle neighbourhoods. The Wallace Avenue Footbridge over the railway corridor provides pedestrian access between the two neighbourhoods
2021 – A map outlining the West Bend and Junction Triangle neighbourhoods. The Wallace Avenue Footbridge over the railway corridor provides pedestrian access between the two communities (Google Maps)
1886 - Map of West Toronto Junction and Vicinity outlining the West Bend and Junction Triangle neighbourhoods
1886 – Map of West Toronto Junction and Vicinity outlining the West Bend and Junction Triangle neighbourhoods (Toronto Public Library)
2019 - Wallace Avenue Footbridge plaque
2019 – Wallace Avenue Footbridge plaque
1923 - "The Diamonds" where the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) rail lines crossed each other. Looking southeast in West Toronto Junction
1923 – “The Diamonds” where the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) rail lines crossed each other. Looking southeast in West Toronto Junction (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1095)
1915 - Looking east on Bloor St W between Dundas St W and Perth Ave. Cars and a horse-drawn wagon are waiting for a northbound train to pass. The photo was taken before the 1925 construction of the Bloor St W railway underpass
1915 – Looking east on Bloor St W between Dundas St W and Perth Ave. Cars and a horse-drawn wagon are waiting for a northbound train to pass. The photo was taken before the 1925 construction of the Bloor St W railway underpass (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1155)
2021 - Looking west towards the Bloor St W railway underpass and the West Toronto Railpath between Perth Ave and Dundas St W
2021 – Looking west towards the Bloor St W railway underpass and the West Toronto Railpath between Perth Ave and Dundas St W
2019 - Looking northwest towards the Dupont St railway underpass and the West Toronto Railpath at Dundas St W, near Annette St
2019 – Looking northwest towards the Dupont St railway underpass and the West Toronto Railpath at Dundas St W, near Annette St
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