poetry and prose about place

Ball’s Bridge’

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In southern Ontario, the Maitland River winds through fields and woodlands before it empties into Lake Huron at Goderich.


When we visited the area two summers ago, we discovered the Ball’s Bridge on the Little Lakes Road.


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Ball’s bridge was built over the Maitland River in 1885. It is a rare example of a two-span pin-connected Pratt through-truss iron bridge and one of the oldest wrought-iron Pratt bridges in the US and Canada. The bridge was built at a time when horse-drawn carriages and carts were its only traffic. In 2006 the bridge was declared unsafe for the weight of modern vehicles. In 2008, the bridge was saved from further deterioration and eventual destruction by the Friends of Ball’s Bridge.


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The poem below tries to capture the interplay of light and shadow as we crossed Ball’s Bridge and drove the local roads.


Ball’s Bridge, Maitland River


on the first day of fall

landscape is criss-crossed

in lattice and wire

spider web and the flight paths

of pigeon-flutter

to the high lines

of the iron bridge


rays of light

find solar panels

and the backs of turtles

sunning on river logs

the inter-lacing

of dark water and light

the shadows of metal and truss

intercepting wire



and winter wheat

embedded rows

a river and its valley

and a hawk follows

panels of air, first frost

and meltwater collects

on oval lily pads

yellowed leaves

rusted wire



This is the second metal bridge we have visited in Ontario. A few years ago we photographed the South Nation River Bridge, in Glengarry County, not far from Cornwall. That bridge has been removed, another loss from our built landscape. For the story of our visit to the South Nation River metal bridge click here


All my best,

Jane Tims



Written by jane tims

March 16, 2020 at 7:00 am

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