On May 31, 1997, the Confederation Bridge was inaugurated, connecting Prince Edward Island to mainland Canada. The construction of this work has greatly changed the lives of the people in this province.
A strong link
” In less than 24 hours, Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province, will be connected to the rest of the country, 124 years after joining the Canadian Confederation. “
” The Confederation Bridge is a masterpiece of engineering. It costs nearly a billion dollars. “
On May 30, 1997, Radio-Canada correspondent in Halifax, Solveig Miller, appeared before Newscast a narrative of the festivities marking the inauguration of the Confederation Bridge.
This bridge crosses the Northumberland Strait to connect Borden, located on Prince Edward Island, at a point near the village of Cap-Tourmentin in New Brunswick.
The Confederation Bridge is notable for its engineering excellence.
At 12.9 km of it, it is the longest structure in the world covering water caught on ice in winter.
It consists of 62 spans, some of which are 60 meters high to give way to boats.
As Solveig Miller reminds us, the possible construction of a bridge has been part of the imagination of county residents for decades.
As early as 1873, the islanders were promised continued association with the mainland to convince them to join the Canadian Confederation.
For over a century, access and exit from Prince Edward Island has been possible only by weather-permitted ferries.
In 1988, the population of the province accepted the idea, following an offensive referendum, of a permanent land connection to the continent.
This project will be carried out on May 31, 1997 when the Confederation Bridge is inaugurated.
Many politicians were there to break the ribbon.
Several festivities were organized to celebrate the event in which groups that had colonized the island participated, including the Acadian community.
A few months later, journalist Alain Picard traveled to Prince Edward Island to observe the changes brought about by the presence of the Confederation Bridge to its 135,000 inhabitants.
The journalist presents his report on the show Punto July 14, 1997 hosted by Achille Michaud.
It was first through the eyes and opinion of Josaphat Richard that Alain Picard made us discover the impact of the Confederation Bridge on the way of life of the people on Prince Island.-Edward.
At age 93, Josaphat Richard witnessed to island life.
Going to the mainland by ferry is sometimes difficult, if not impossible, especially in the winter.
Sometimes, the patriarch recalls, navigation to New Brunswick was delayed for several days during the cold season.
Josaphat Richard was highly skeptical about the construction of the bridge that would break the separation of his province from the rest of the continent.
But, in the company of his grandson, Donnie Arsenault, he crossed this famous bridge which he believed was only a chimerical idea.
The old man was amazed and convinced. He said, somewhat jokingly, that he could die.
The report also shows, through other testimonies, the impact of the bridge on living in the province.
Premier Pat Binns was delighted.
The bridge, according to him, is bringing prosperity especially thanks to the growth of the tourist sector.
This is an opinion shared by several economic players on the island and Josaphat Richard.
But other witnesses have a more reserved opinion.
The arrival of tourists disrupts a slower and very bucolic way of life. It will take some time to get used to.
Ten years after the bridge opened, the Halifax correspondent, Denis-Martin Chabot, says it has ruined the lives of islanders.
In a report presented on the show The National on May 31, 2007, several islanders confirmed the changes.
Geneviève Asselin hosted the show that day.
In particular, we hear Jeannette Arsenault praising the new land link.
The owner of the shop where figurines representing characters from the famous novel are sold Anne … the house of green gables saw its sales explode with increasing tourist arrivals.
On the other hand, the owner of an office supplies store is not like Jeannette Arsenault’s experience.
Increased competition, caused by easier access to businesses on the continent, forced Henri Gallant to make painful adjustments.
He had to thank the staff. But after 10 years, his business is profitable again, he says.
The appearance of the bridge created winners and defeated Denis-Martin Chabot’s finish.
We had to face progress.
The Confederation Bridge is now part of the collective imagination and landscape of Prince Edward Island.