VINTAGE VIGNETTE:Manitoba Rural Landmarks
The Senkiw School District suspension bridge was constructed during the 1930s by district residents to allow children living south of the Roseau River to attend school in the hamlet of Senkiw, situated about a mile north of the river.
The bridge replaced a “flying fox” hand-powered cable and basket mechanism which the children initially used to cross the river. The suspension bridge is one of only four known pedestrian suspension bridges remaining in Manitoba and it is the only one to be protected as a Municipal Heritage Site under the Heritage Resources Act.
This example is notable for its unique support mechanism, which was rebuilt in 1946 using salvaged farm implement parts, to allow the cables to be pulled taut and locked.
The bridge was part of a formally surveyed school district trail which permitted the children to take the most direct “cross-country” route from the bridge to and from Senkiw, and was used by the area’s school-aged children until the school closed in 1967.
The restoration of the bridge was spearheaded by the RM of Franklin Crow Wing Trail Committee and supported by the municipal council, local residents and area businesses. Funds for the bridge restoration were obtained from a variety of sources including among others: sales of inscribed bridge planks, community events and public donations at the local level; the Manitoba Millennium Fund at the provincial level; and from Rivers West Inc. – a Western Diversification Fund tourism development agency, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada at the federal level. The bulk of the labour involved in the project was provided by local volunteers.
A celebration marking the completion of the restoration project took place Sunday, Aug. 21, 2005 and attracted over 250 people. The Senkiw School Suspension Bridge and School District Trail are now components of the Crow Wing Trail portion of the Trans Canada Trail in Manitoba.