Downtown and West St. Catharines connected by swing bridge over the old Welland Canal
Prior to the opening of the Burgoyne Bridge, residents, farmers, visitors, and commercial travelers approaching from the west could only reach the city centre by making their way down into the 12 Mile Creek valley, across the Welland Canal bridge (lower bridge), and up the other side along St. Paul St. West. This route was tiring and dangerous, particularly under icy conditions.
In January of 1912, the St. Catharines Standard reported that one commercial traveler arrived at the Grand Trunk Railway station on a wintery Friday evening and could not find transportation to take him to the business section of the city. He had no choice but to walk. After some time he found his way to the steep hills leading to the city centre. His energy and patience had been exhausted by the time he reached the top of the hill and later stated to the Standard that “My opinion of St. Catharines was mighty low, I tell you as I was climbing that hill, but when I reached the top and saw the brilliantly lighted street with so much signs of life and business, I say truthfully, my estimation dropped fully a hundred percent… to think that a city of such dimensions and such apparent progress could countenance such an approach.”
He did not know at the time but discussions about a high level bridge spanning the valley were well under way.