Day 241/365 of Steel – Gérard Macquet

The legacy of Belgian engineering in Canada.

Gérard Macquet, born December 5, 1859 in Bruges, was a Belgian engineer. He made a significant contribution to the construction of steel bridges in Quebec between 1887 and 1892.
After completing his studies in civil engineering in 1881, Macquet joined the Belgian Corps des Ponts et Chaussées.

Turcot Bridge built in 1889
Fig 1: Turcot Bridge built in 1889
Photo: Benoit Rochon

In 1887, the Quebec government launched a metal bridge policy, with the aim of encouraging the construction of steel bridges instead of wood, which was more fragile and less durable. At the age of 27, Gérard Macquet was recruited and appointed director of bridge construction.

Macquet set to work and decided to design riveted steel bridges instead of iron bridges. Instead of the pinned bridges, which were in use at the time, he introduced three new types of trusses, the Johann Wilhelm Schwedler truss, the Thomas Willis Pratt truss and the parabolic truss.

Tessier Bridge Which Spans the Sainte-Anne River
Fig 2: Tessier Bridge Which Spans the Sainte-Anne River

These structures are economical, strong and easy to assemble. Macquet also broke with the tradition of leaving the choice of structure to the contractors. He drew up detailed plans and imposed his decisions. From 1887 to 1892, Macquet built some thirty metal bridges. Six of these bridges still exist: Très-Saint-Sacrement (1889), Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier (1892), Hébertville (1892), Saint-Raymond (1889), Saint-Thomas (1892) and Saint-Eugène (1891).

Well maintained and not abused, these structures are very pleasing to the eye and practically indestructible. Witnesses to the know-how of our predecessors and remarkable pieces of North American industrial heritage, the Macquet bridges are a little-known heritage to discover and, above all, a heritage to preserve.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

You May Also Like

Day 19/365 of Steel – The Gherkin

On the 28th of April 2004, The Gherkin was officially inaugurated. Norman Foster (architect) and Ove Arup (engineering) created a true masterpiece in skyscraper engineering. The Gherkin is an example…
Read More

Day 2/365 of Steel – Roy Hofheinz

Roy Hofheinz was born on the 10th of april 1912. As co-owner of HSA (Houston Sports Association) he was the driving force behind the construction of the famous Astrodome. The…
Read More

Day 29/365 of Steel – Menashe Kadishman

Menashe Kadishman (21/8/1932 – 8/5/2015) I discovered Kadishman’s work during our visit to the Jewish Museum in Berlin.The Memory Void, one of the symbolic spaces on the ground level of…
Read More