Pakenham, Ontario, is a small town just west and north of Ottawa. Many towns and villages in Canada were named after British soldiers during The War of 1812. The town of Pakenham was named after General Sir Edward Michael Pakenham, who died in the Battle of New Orleans. There is a statue of him at the South Transept of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. His body was brought back to Pakenham in a cask of rum and buried in the Pakenham Vault in Killucan in Westmeath, Ireland. General Pakenham was known for his bad temper and a relative was recorded saying “The General has returned home in better spirits than he left.”
One of the most interesting structures in Pakenham is the Five Arch Stone Bridge. In 1901, the engineering firm of O’Toole and Keating built the only five arch stone bridge of its kind in all of North America. For the princely sum of $14,500. At the time, the bridge was built 268 feet in length, 25 feet width and 22 feet high. Each of the five arches are 40 feet wide and the piers are each 8 feet thick! The largest stone in the bridge is 9 feet long and 2-1/2 feet square, and weighs over 5 tons.
The bridge was refurbished by the province in 1984 and if you have never seen it, you are missing a gem.
Not only is the bridge a treat for the eyes but the bridge’s surroundings are equally magnificent. The bridge is located at one of the most beautiful places in the Mississippi Valley, built over spectacular rapids.
A reader pointed out, recently, that there is a five-arch bridge also in Avon, NY.
It was built in 1856 as a railway bridge. It is 200 feet long and 12 feet wide. It was used until 1841 when the tracks were removed.