I was delighted when a good friend asked me to take her on a tour of the Townships this past July. She had been in Canada for several years and lived in Sherbrooke this past summer but didn’t get much of a chance to tour the area. She had done some outings to Bleu Lavande and to the Coaticook Gorge (French only) but I wanted to show her the area as I know it. I decided to take her to a place I know very well, The Narrows in Fitch Bay. I have bounced my car down the 247 many a time to the turnoff for my husband’s family cottage . The road travels over rolling hills alongside Lake Lovering into the town of Fitch Bay, turns at the former Witch Bay (seriously), follows just above the town namesake. Just before the final big uphill for the turnoff, the bay converges through a beautiful marshland to its narrowest point where the new bridge continues the 247 and the old covered bridge. The Narrows Bridge was our picnic spot for the day. My husband and I spent many weekends and vacations through here, boating in the Summer or snowshoeing on the ice in Winter. As a side note, the dirt road the cottage was situated on was built by my maternal grandfather, back in the 1970s. Anyway, it was rather hot that day so we sat down at the water and jumped in the water right after. We bobbed in and out, moving out of the way so we didn’t get whacked by the passing boat traffic. No better way to pass the time.
The bridge was built in 1881 by Charles and Alexander MacPherson of Georgeville. The proposal put emphasis on superior building technique and materials but demanded the bridge be completed by June of the same year. Despite its short distance (92 feet), its importance could not be overestimated because it saved a lot of time on the way to Georgeville and to United States. Fitch Bay converges into Lake Memphremagog, which is 35 km at its longest point and spans the Canada-US border. The bridge is situated roughly 10km to the border, by boat or by car. There is a sign on the outside of the structure reminding American boaters that they need to check-in with Canadian Customs to avoid consequences. Its solid lattice style construction withstood almost a century of continuous use, until the construction of the modern bridge in the late 1970s and the subsequent deviation of the road. When the new bridge was slated for construction, the Narrows Bridge was going to torn down. Thankfully, a local campaign resulted in the preservation and renovation of the covered bridge. Remarkably, the lattice structure needed little work but a new tin roof and a coat of paint was in order. It is among the oldest covered bridges in the province and only one of two that span a lake. It looks like it could withstand another 100 years gracing the landscape.
http://www.pontscouverts.com/Pontscouverts2/Narrows.html (French but good collection of historical photos)