The Little Current Swing Bridge carries Highway 6 across a narrow channel separating Manitoulin Island from the much smaller Goat Island, forming the only land access. This bridge consists of two 70-foot deck plate girder approaches on the north end (Goat Island) and a single 60-foot deck plate girder approach on the south end (Manitoulin Island), with a 368-foot through swing bridge span.
The swing bridge sits 17.5 feet above the water, and provides a 160 foot opening on either side of the central pier for water passage.
Construction on the bridge foundations was commenced in 1912 by the Algoma Eastern Railway, and the bridge itself was constructed in 1913. Originally this was a railway-only bridge, the bridge stayed in the open position at all times except when a train needed to pass. Passenger traffic to the island was available only by ferry until 1946, when the bridge was improved to allow both rail and vehicle traffic. Train service to the island was subsequently truncated in the 1980s, with railway service ending at Turner on the Goat Island side, and the bridge now serves only vehicle traffic.
Currently, the bridge strongly favours highway traffic, staying in the closed (motor vehicles can pass) position at all times, except for the first fifteen minutes of each daylight hour during the summer, when it opens to permit boating traffic. At night and when the shipping channel is closed during the winter, the bridge stays in the closed position at all times. Originally powered by a gasoline engine, the mechanism was upgraded to electric motors in 2003. Due to the single vehicle lane, it is equipped with traffic signals, the only installation of such on Manitoulin Island.
This bridge, one of the only swing bridges in Canada, has been designated an Ontario Heritage site.
For more information regarding the operation of Little Current Swing Bridge, please contact the information line at 705-368-2969.