YARMOUTH, N.S. – Funds are being used to make mechanical repairs to a beloved tiny drawbridge in Sandford, Yarmouth County, to make it operational and safe for commercial fishing vessels and the visiting public.
Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill joined local officials on Monday morning, Oct. 29, to announce funding for the drawbridge – which has long been dubbed locally as the world’s smallest drawbridge. But the bridge hasn’t been in operation for some time.
Earlier this fall, Develop Nova Scotia contributed $5,500 dollars, with additional funds coming from the Municipality of Yarmouth and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, for a total contribution of $14,800. The funds are to be used to make mechanical repairs to the winches, cables, pulleys and hinges.
Repairing the bridge will allow tourists and commercial fishermen to cross the bridge when “closed” and vessels to access the small salt water pond on the inside of the bridge as an area to complete necessary repairs to vessels when the pond drains at low tide.
“This is a welcome investment in one of Yarmouth’s most iconic pieces of infrastructure,” said Churchill. “Support for infrastructure projects, large and small, is very important for our local fishermen, tourism operators and our community.”
Patti Durkee, councillor for District 4 in the Municipality of Yarmouth, was instrumental in securing funding for the drawbridge.
“I am very thankful to the three levels of government who have recognized that the Sandford drawbridge, although small, has a large impact on this village.” said Durkee. “Many thanks to the harbour authority, Small Craft Harbours, Municipality of the District of Yarmouth and Develop Nova Scotia for providing the funding for this project.”
West Nova MP Colin Fraser said the federal government is committed to supporting the unique and wide-ranging infrastructure priorities of rural communities. He said investing in the drawbridge ensures that local fishers and businesses can efficiently use the wharf facilities and create further economic opportunities, “while ensuring that this unique structure can continue to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.”
According to information posted on the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association website, the Yarmouth County bridge, located at the Sandford Wharf, was originally built so that the fishermen and visitors could cross from one side of the Sandford wharf system to the other without having to travel back on the road.
As mentioned, for decades people have referred to the Sandford drawbridge as the world’s smallest. And if you search online for the world’s smallest drawbridge, you do find references to the bridge in Sandford. However, you’ll also find references and photographs of the Somerset Bridge in Bermuda, which is said to measure 32 inches/81 centimetres wide and is reputed to be the smallest working drawbridge in the world. According to information posted online, the panels of that drawbridge can be lifted by hand to allow the mast of a sailboat to pass through.
An embargoed media release about the announcement for the Sandford drawbridge that was sent to the Tri-County Vanguard newsroom on Oct. 26 referred the Sandford bridge as the world’s smallest, but a revised media release issued on Oct. 29, which included a correction to the monetary funding amount, had dropped a couple of references to the Sandford bridge being the world’s smallest, including in a quote attributed to Churchill.
But don't read anything into that, said Brynn Langille, manager of communications for the Liberal party, who was listed as a contact person on the media release. She said it was simply an error when the original release was revised.
“It wasn’t intentionally removed, it was just one of the edits of the drafts made but there should have been another one,” Langille said. “Zach Churchill definitely still stands by it being the smallest.”
Asked about the online references to the bridge in Bermuda as being the world’s smallest drawbridge, Councillor Durkee notes the planks on that bridge have to be pulled up by hand to be opened up.
“We still crank the chains to lift the whole bridge,” she said about the Sandford bridge.