Rotary Bridge 1

Tara Rotary members gathered for a social distancing photo op at the site of the new Ann Street pedestrian bridge June 17. Hub photo

Hub Staff

The original Ann Street Bridge in Tara washed out in 1948. "That's the year they had tons and tons of snow and there was a flood," said Tara Rotary member Ben Rier.

Although the former Ann Street Bridge had been a car bridge, conversations began years ago within the small community east of Port Elgin to create a foot bridge that crosses the Sauble River and links up Ann Street with what is now the Tara Rail Trail and Park Road.

"There had been some interest in a trail of some kind in the community for years because there's a lot of streets without sidewalks," said Rier. What had long been a conversation and a wish for the community started to turn into a tangible plan about six or seven years ago.

"We got looking at the maps and figured out there used to be a bridge [at the end of Ann Street] and once the rail line was available to walk on we thought that would be a great way to link that all up and keep people off the streets and give people a chance to exercise," he said.

The portion of the Canadian National Railways rail lines system that ran through Tara were last used in 1987. The tracks had since been removed and a multi-use recreational trail was created in the community in 1998.

Between staffing changes at Grey Sauble Conservation and a new municipal water line put in under the Sauble River, the foot bridge project was met with a few delays along the way but both the municipality and Grey Sauble had been supportive from the onset, said Rier.

"[Arran Elderslie] Council agreed to lend us the money for a portion of it on a temporary basis," Rier said. "So once we had that in place we were confident we could proceed." From that point it was a matter of obtaining all the proper permits and securing contractors.

"We went and looked at other bridges in the area," continued Rier. "There is one behind the Grey Sauble Conservation office built by the same company and there's another one in Hanover," he said. Both bridges were built by Eagle Bridge Inc. out of Kitchener, the same company that built the new Ann Street foot bridge.

Finally in the fall of 2019 abutments were poured and by the middle of June, 2020 the bridge and adjoining trail was complete.

A substantial partner in the project was the Tara Festival of Crafts. Past President Roger Thorne along with Rier met with the festival committee early on in the project and committee members agreed to a $35,000 donation. "They were very, very significant supporters," said Rier.

Lallemand Bio-Ingredients, who operate what is known in the community as "the milk plant" came on board in 2017 with a $5,000 donation.

The Tara Horticultural Society has offered to plant and maintain gardens at the west entrance to the bridge and Rotary has received requests to place memorial benches on site.

"It's a real community project," said Rier.

Rotary has also secured a few grants to help cover the cost including one from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for $25,000 and one from OPG for $2,500.

Nelson Dawley from Hanover's Dawley Engineering, who is also a Rotarian in Hanover, provided all of the engineering services at no cost, an approximate $7,000 value; and GBL Construction who did the concrete work as well as Ron Nickason Plumbing and Heating who did a lot of the fill and trail work both donated a portion of their bill back to Tara Rotary.

Of the total $150,000 needed to complete the project, Rotary has secured approximately half and is now turning to the community for help. To make a donation to the Ann Street foot bridge, visit

You can access Ann Street at the cenotaph on Yonge Street, just south of the downtown core. The bridge sits at the end of Ann Street and crosses the Sauble River where it links up with the Tara Rail Trail. From there, users can head north and take the Rail Trail to Brook Street East or continue onto Park Road.

Rotary Bridge 4

The new Ann Street foot bridge crosses the Sauble River at the end of Ann Street and links up with the Tara Rail Trail and Park Road. Hub photo

Rotary Bridge 3

While there have been conversations around a pedestrian bridge in Tara for years, efforts from the Tara Rotary Club, coupled with community support, finally brought it to fruition in 2020. Hub photo

bridge installation

The new bridge was installed in May, 2020 with trail work being completed in June. Image supplied

Rotary Bridge 2

Rotary members line the new Ann Street foot bridge June 17. Hub photo 

Tara Bridge 1948

The former Ann Street Bridge washed out in 1948 following a hard winter and subsequent flooding. Image supplied

Tara Bridge 1919

The Ann Street Bridge in 1919. Image supplied