The Champlain Bridge Token


In 1958, the Nuns’ Island Bridge was renamed to the Samuel de Champlain Bridge. Built over five years, the new bridge is nearly four miles long with six lanes of traffic. The roadway became the busiest in Canada, with 57 million vehicles using it each year. The structure’s 67 spans of 170 feet each also mean that the St. Lawrence River could continue to act as a major waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the major cities of Canada and the United States.

At the bridge’s opening in 1962, there was a 25-cent toll that needed to be paid when crossing the bridge. The toll was used to finance the $35 million investment and was paid using a gold-colored metal token. Every family then had a new game: seeing who could throw the token the hardest and make the most noise hitting the toll basket. Stevie, the longshoreman, got a chuckle from seeing this game unfold in the car in the next lane. Suddenly, the little boy threw his token so hard that it bounced out of the basket and landed in the middle of the road, lost to traffic. The driver got angry and told his family that this was his last token. Stevie, a longshoreman at Hangar 16, always had lots of tokens since he crossed the bridge every day. So, he decided to help the family, throwing one of his tokens right into the toll basket in the next lane! The family warmly thanked the good Samaritan.


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