At our July 2010 meeting, we learned about two Margarets. The first was Margaret Fitzimmons.
It was a perfect day to pay a visit to the Fitzimmons farm, near Markdale, Ontario to see the bridge, built single-handedly by Margaret (Mrs. Robert) Fitzimmons.
The Saugeen River runs through the farm and each spring, family members would go across the river to get the sap from the maple bush. In the spring of 1926, Margaret "was crossing the river on a fallen tree, carrying two pails of sap. The tree rolled and she lost her balance." She fell into the icy water and ended up under the log almost drowning.
She vowed to build a bridge; so, at the age of 61 years, Margaret began this arduous task. How did she do it? According to an un-sourced newspaper article,
Some wooden rollers and a crowbar were the means whereby large stones were rolled in to form a foundation. These served as stepping stones, until more rocks were fitted in place to form narrow arches spaced about 10 to 12 feet apart. Through these opening, the water may freely flow. For a smooth surface, flagstones were brought and fitted in the grooves and hollows. Many stones were rolled from a quarter to half mile before they could rest in the river.
It is said that she was known to work even by moonlight. For 20 years, Margaret worked on this project. The bridge still stands strong and sturdy, despite no mortar being used. It is about 187 feet long about six feet wide and five feet high.
Tanglefoot, a well-known musical group, wrote a song called Maggie that tells the story of Margaret Fitzimmons. To hear a short clip of the song, click here. Choose the sound icon beside the title.
Information from newspaper article and from Eminent Women of Grey County. Photo collage by Janet Iles