New Book on Quebec's Covered Bridges

Matthew Farfan

Image removed.Les Publications du Québec has just released a new book, titled Les ponts couverts du Québec. Produced in association with Quebec’s Ministry of Transport, the book is the first comprehensive study of the covered bridge phenomenon in the province.

Under the direction of Jean Lefrançois of the Ministry of Transport, this magnificent volume was written in large part by Gérald Arbour, a former president of the now-defunct Société québécoise des ponts couverts. The 215-page volume, which is available in hardcover and in French only, is lavishly illustrated with contemporary and archival photographs borrowed from the Archives nationales du Québec and from private collections. The result of nearly thirty years of research, Les ponts couverts du Québec is a beautifully-produced work. Amongst its pages, we discover how the covered bridge evolved in this province, beginning in the early nineteenth century. We learn of the various styles and techniques employed by covered bridge builders over the years and in different parts of the province. We come to know some of the key figures associated with Quebec’s covered bridge past. And we find that vast numbers of covered bridges were built by the Ministry of Colonization, beginning in the late nineteenth century, right up until the late 1950s, when the ministry abandoned the covered bridge as its official bridge-building technique.

Les ponts couverts du Québec is divided into chapters, including one which focuses on the “pearls” of Quebec’s covered bridge network. This chapter is really an invitation to readers to get out and visit these fascinating pieces of our heritage for themselves. A comprehensive list of all 88 authentic covered bridges remaining in the province, accompanied by maps indicating their locations, a glossary of terms, a bibliography, and an index, complete the volume. With all of the fascinating history and lore associated with the covered bridge in Quebec, Les ponts couverts du Québec is indeed a captivating read. Its splendid photography, however, elevates it into the realm of the “coffee table” book. An indispensable resource for covered bridge enthusiasts -- and for anyone who appreciates our built heritage -- Les ponts couverts du Québec sells for $34.95 at local bookstores.