Champlain Bridge, Montreal

She drove through the Ville-Marie Tunnel, then up onto the Champlain Bridge. Gamache was silent, looking at the half-frozen St. Lawrence River far below. The traffic slowed almost to a stop once they approached the very top of the span. Lacoste, who was not at all afraid of heights, felt queasy. It was one thing to drive over the bridge, another to be stopped within feet of the low rail. And the long plunge. (How the Light Gets In, Page 22, Hardcover Edition)

Hovering high above the St. Lawrence River and nearly four miles long, the Champlain Bridge connects Three Pines with Montreal and features heavily into the works of Louise Penny.

Champlain Bridge

Named after Samuel de Champlain (remember his remains play a big role in Bury Your Dead), the intrepid explorer who founded Quebec City and New France. The bridge is a steel truss cantilever and was designed by Philip Louis Pratley. Pratley also had a hand in building the Quebec Bridge which also crosses the St. Lawrence and is the largest cantilever in the world.

Begun in 1957, construction took five years to complete and the Champlain now hosts six lanes of traffic and has nearly 50 million vehicles cross its span per year, making it Canada’s busiest bridge.

If you recall, our own Chief Inspector Gamache is afraid of heights and at 120 feet above the river, at its highest point, the bridge unnerves Armand; “…his hands were balled into fists, which he was tightening, then releasing. Tightening. Releasing.”

How the Light Gets In begins with a body being discovered and “brought up from the side of the Champlain Bridge” and sadly, like many bridges, the Champlain has seen its fair share of deaths but not nearly as many as its sister bridge, the Jacques Cartier, which has had as many as 16 suicides in a single year.

Champlain Bridge

The overall state of the Champlain plays a big part in the plot of the novel and this, like many of Louise’s themes, is more fact than fiction. The bridge has suffered heavy deterioration over the years and a 2010 study revealed that the bridge is “functionally deficient” thus a strategy was put in motion to replace it.

In 2014 the new plan for the replacement bridge was unveiled with completion scheduled for 2018. It will maintain its six lanes of traffic and add in a separate span for bicycle and pedestrian paths.

While many are referring to the new structure simply as the “New Champlain Bridge”, it has not been officially named.

What do you say we all lobby for it to be christened the “Louise Penny Bridge”?

Discussion on “Champlain Bridge, Montreal

  1. Leslie says:

    Wel…of course it should be the Louise Penny Bridge.

    What else would you call it?

    • Paul Hochman says:

      Truth, Leslie!

    • Susan Kelley says:

      I would vote for that. She needs some sort of long-lasting naming opportunity to commemorate the international effect of her books in bringing Canada to the readers. As a Floridian, I must confess nothing much about Canada(except bad news) ever reaches this far south.So her books have been very informative to me by placing history in an enjoyable readable context.

  2. Dorothy says:

    The Louise Penny Bridge sounds appropriate to me. I’m in!

    Next a Bistro we can enjoy too!

  3. As with all things, bridges age. Time to make it safe, a penny saved is a penny earned. Rename your famous bridge the Louise Penny.

  4. Fernando says:

    If not the LP bridge then the Armand Gamach bridge.

  5. Fredericka DeBerry says:

    The LP Bridge would be a wonderful name, but only after some serious repair work is done.

  6. Linda says:

    Love the Louise Penny Bridge idea! Hope your functionally deficient bridge doesn’t fall in the river like ours in Minneapolis did.

  7. Alba Endicott says:

    Louise Penny Bridge sounds like a perfect name. Canada has the best representative of the country in her. She has put Quebec on the map for millions of readers who may not have learned so much about it otherwise. And even for those of us who have visited it, she showed us a side of it we didn’t know and now long to return.

  8. Susan Mekinda says:

    Definitely should be the Louise Penny bridge. Her books brought these 2 US folks to Quebec and Montreal (so far)

  9. Karen I Ford says:

    Great idea. Armand and Louise are bringing many visitors to Quebec searching for all of the places Louise mentions in her books. Three Pines will always have my heart!!!!

  10. Deniz says:

    Nah, I wouldn’t want to name an eventually-will-also-deteriorate bridge after a wonderful author — much better to have a Louise Penny Cafe! Freshly-brewed coffee, warm croissants, local cheeses, a crackling fire in the fireplace, books on the mantel…

  11. Cathy Ziegler says:

    I went over that bridge last September when I went to Quebec and Montreal to retrace the steps of Gamache in “Bury your Dead” Fun trip with Solano County Library Assn. (California)

  12. Yes. The Louise Penny Bridge. She is a great Canadian talent and is bringing more tourists to Quebec which certainly benefits the economy. Her books make the readers want to visit all of Canada.
    Seriously, how can we non-Canadians promote the idea of the Louise Penny Bridge ? Whom should we contact and how ?

  13. Birgit Schultz says:

    I grew up on Nuns’ Island (Ile des Soeurs). We moved there in 1969, when the bridge was quite new. As a 10-year-old, I was always in awe of this bridge. It had toll booths into which my dad would drop change. I spent a lot of time in its shadow, walking my spaniel along the shore of the river. Reading about it in Louise Penny’s books brings back many memories.

  14. Nancy Whittemore says:

    Definitely re-name it the Louise Penny Bridge. She deserves the recognition. After reading and re-reading the whole series, How the Light Gets In is still my favorite…so far. Keep them coming.

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