A walk above it all at Goderich
The twin attractions of the natural beauty of its setting and its sense of history has always made Goderich a popular tourism destination. For a new perspective on both, however, visitors should make a trip over the Menesetung Bridge and along the Tiger Dunlop Heritage Trail.
bridge and the trail is spectacular in all seasons looking out over the river, the harbour and the town from a perspective that can’t be gained anywhere else in the area.
When you tread the sturdy boards of the Menesetung Bridge you’re walking where steam locomotives once hauled trains laden with grain down to the Goderich harbour for loading on lake freighters, or carried heavy loads of rock salt from the Sifto Salt Mine or road graders from Champion Road Machinery eastward to customers throughout North America and beyond. Until 1988 the bridge served to carry CPR freight trains high above the Maitland River. The last steam train crossed the bridge as part of an historical excursion in 1977.
The CPR was the second railway line to come to Goderich, a rather Johnny-come-lately, arriving in 1907. The railway line ran through Blyth and Milverton on to Guelph.
The line was discontinued in 1988, but a number of determined Goderich residents saw the abandoned bridge as a glorious opportunity. They successfully persuaded local officials to get involved and delay the demolition of the bridge until they could raise public support.
Carved into boards on the bridge you will see the names of the many people who came forward with donations to keep the bridge intact and to turn it into a safe pedestrian crossing. To them we owe the thanks for a spectacular view, looking down on the Maitland far below, watching the seagulls actually fly under us as we stand by the railing on the bridge. We can watch fishermen wade in the waters of the river and golfers swat their golf balls across the green of the
Maitland Golf and Country Club. The bridge has become one of the most popular attractions in Goderich, both for local people and visitors.
But rewarding as Menesetung Bridge is, it’s just the gateway to more dramatic scenery and a trip back to the very beginning of white settlement of Goderich and Huron County. The abandoned CPR right-of-way has been turned into the Tiger Dunlop Heritage Trail. The trail clings to the high northern bank of the Maitland River and every few feet offers a different perspective of the river valley, the elevators and ships in the harbour and the tall spires of Goderich’s many churches. You’ll need more time (an hour or so) to take in the trail than if you just visit the bridge, but it can be a rewarding trip.
Culmination of the hike down the trail, about a mile to the east of the bridge, is the tomb of Tiger Dunlop. When the Canada Company was formed in the 1820s to open the Huron Tract (including most of Huron and Perth and parts of adjacent counties) Tiger Dunlop was appointed Warden of the Forest. Visiting Goderich, he fell in love with the area where the river called Menesetung by the local Indians, emptied into the lake. He built a house on the north bank of the valley overlooking the lake, river and the town he helped to build. From there he oversaw the opening up of the entire Huron Tract. In 1841 he was elected to the colony’s legislature after a raucous election. He died in office and his body was brought home and buried on the river bank. You can view the tomb and enjoy yet another spectacular view.
The Tiger Dunlop Heritage Trail connects to the Maitland Trail and the Goderich-to-Auburn Rail Trail. To get to the Menesetung Bridge take the North Harbour Road in Goderich from Highway 21.