Crossing That Bridge: A Critical Look at the PEI Fixed Link


187 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-921556-39-X
DDC 388.1'32'09717





Reviewed by A.A. Den Otter

A.A. den Otter is a history professor at Memorial University of
Newfoundland and co-author of Lethbridge: A Centennial History.


The basic theme running through this book is that Public Works
Canada—the agency primarily responsible for pushing the construction
of a bridge across the Northumberland Strait from New Brunswick to
Prince Edward Island—neither fully assessed the social, economic, and
environmental implications of its proposal nor gave fair consideration
to alternative modes of spanning the water between the two provinces.

This collection of some 20 essays describes in some detail the
opposition to the P.E.I. bridge. While some writers discuss the process
by which the bridge became a reality, others attempt to assess the
economic impact of this gigantic undertaking. One essayist notes that
the bridge will displace more than 650 ferry workers, most of whom live
in P.E.I. Another deals with the possible environmental impact, and
concludes that bridge promoters paid very little attention to weather
patterns, particularly high winds, snow storms, and freezing rain; that
they know little about the bridge’s likely impact on the fishery; and
that they have not assessed its effect on ice formation in the Strait.

Predictably, the collection is unanimously, albeit openly, opposed to
the bridge proposal. But not all of the writers reject the idea of a
fixed link. While several note that an improved ferry service is the
most desirable means of crossing the Northumberland Strait, others
suggest that a rail tunnel would provide an economical, environmentally
sound, and safe alternative to the proposed bridge.

This book perfectly illustrates how a gigantic project, proposed by
private enterprise and eagerly adopted by government because it suits
its agenda, can take on a life of its own, over and above the objections
of a concerned citizenry. In the end, the reader is still left wondering
why a bridge was deemed necessary.


Begley, Lorraine., “Crossing That Bridge: A Critical Look at the PEI Fixed Link,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,