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Centre Falls - 1978

Centre Falls – 1978

Since at least 1947, there was a footbridge on site along a challenging section on the Centre Falls trail in Temagami (now part of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park). That changed in 2003 when the MNR removed the footbridge for liability and budgetary reasons. The path that must now be used predates the bridge but includes a very difficult and steep climb up and down the small ravine.

A direct message from Hap Wilson on the removal of the Centre Falls Footbridge in Temagami:

When I was a park ranger in Temagami back in 1978, one of my first jobs was to rebuild the footbridge at Centre Falls (then Lady Evelyn Waterway Park – pre Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Wilderness Park).

The old bridge, built in the early 1960’s by a dozen Junior Rangers and two foremen over a 2-week period, spanned the sixty-foot ravine beside the falls. I had a crew of four and we rebuilt the bridge in five-days in early May. Tar and rolled asphalt helped preserve the joints.

The bridge was still in good shape well into the new century; however, the MNR removed the bridge for liability reasons a few years ago, even though the couple of planks that had deteriorated could easily have been replaced.

It is a very difficult lift or drop through the ravine without the bridge. When the MNR took down the bridge they left all the spike-laced debris in clear site instead of dragging it back into the bush; when we built the bridge we made sure the old take-down material was cleared away.

If you think this iconic footbridge should be rebuilt again, let me know…I’ve seen a lot of trippers struggle through this dangerous cut in the rocks.”

~Hap Wilson, June 2013

To let Hap know YOUR VIEW, leave a comment below, email him at info@ecotrailbuilders.com or find other ways to contact Hap Wilson here: Contact Hap Wilson – Eco Trailbuilders

Rebuilding Centre Falls Bridge - 1978

Rebuilding Centre Falls Bridge – 1978

Hap and his crew working on Centre Falls Bridge - 1978

Hap and his crew working on Centre Falls Bridge – 1978

Rebuilding Centre Falls Bridge - 1978

Rebuilding Centre Falls Bridge – 1978


  • John Cockburn Posted June 8, 2013 2:23 am

    Rebuild the bridge – it was an esthetically please asset.

  • ian hanna Posted June 8, 2013 4:35 am

    i’ve done the portage both ways — i kinda missed the footbridge for historical reasons — it’s handy and looks good — i’m mixed about ‘improvements’ to trails in general

  • Jennifer Posted June 8, 2013 12:50 pm

    Generally against man made “fixes” on trails unless it improves safety. Sounds like this might be one of those occasions?

  • Paul Bisson Posted June 8, 2013 3:03 pm

    I believe the bridge should be re-built for insurance purposes..if this makes the trail safer why has it been removed,a step backwards by non-forward thinkers..there should have been public input before removing something that was there for so many years,these decisions can not exist on way,the users need input !!

  • Jackson L. Posted June 8, 2013 4:55 pm

    Please Re-build!!! I along with my brother and father have traveled along the trail and had extreme difficulty to carry up the cliff face. With the bridge there will be less risk of injury for novice trippers, Thanks!!!

  • John Posted June 8, 2013 11:50 pm

    The trouble with “improvements” is where do you stop? Many portages on the LER are highly dangerous- does that mean we have to make them all “safe”?
    It sounds harsh, but I’d say if you can’t do that portage without the bridge you probably shouldn’t be there.

  • Colette Descent Posted June 10, 2013 1:24 am

    From the photos, it is obvious that the former bridge was a gorgeous piece of inspired carpentry, as well as a much needed structure for navigating the trail safely. Without the bridge, that beautiful region will probably be less accessible to many, and I believe that would negatively impact efforts to promote nature conservation if people cannot access it to behold its wonder.

  • Rob Daisley Posted June 10, 2013 12:05 pm

    Rebuild the bridge, please. An historical exception should apply here, and it would help overuse of the Centre campsites.

  • David Lee (aka The Passionate Paddler) Posted June 25, 2013 1:24 pm

    I know this is a late, but I thought I’d give my 2 cents worth. I portaged that area with the bridge and without. Personally, I am all for the natural state of things. These pathways were traveled well before we ever came around, so in some sense, I don’t mind the challenge of it. However, especially as we are now paying to camp there, it would only make even more sense that the onus is on the MNR to maintain/provide safe passage on trails when necessary. Temagami is one of my favourite places to trip in ON, a lot of it because of it’s ruggedness. I certainly don’t want it to be ‘groomed’ like other parks, but I guess there are valid reasons for trail maintenance too! Thanks Hap for your books/maps! You’ve been an inspiration for my paddling endeavours. Hope to meet you some time! Cheers!

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