Lennox Passage (waterway)

Lennox Passage is a navigable waterway between Cape Breton Island and Isle Madame in Nova Scotia, Canada.[1][2] Small craft use the relatively protected Passage (also correctly referred to as a strait) traveling to and from St. Peters Canal at the village of St. Peter's and the Strait of Canso to avoid sailing around the east coast of Cape Breton in the open Atlantic Ocean.

Lennox Passage
Lennox Passage is located in Nova Scotia
Lennox Passage
Lennox Passage
Lennox Passage in Nova Scotia
LocationCape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Coordinates45°34′54″N 61°05′12″W / 45.58167°N 61.08667°W / 45.58167; -61.08667Coordinates: 45°34′54″N 61°05′12″W / 45.58167°N 61.08667°W / 45.58167; -61.08667
Part ofAtlantic ocean
Max. length10 nautical miles (19 km)

The Passage is approximately 10 nautical miles (19 km) in length from MacDonalds Shoal (near Janvrin Island) to Ouetique Island near D'Escousse with depths varying from 3 to 20 metres. The Passage is well-buoyed and marine interests should be aware that eastbound vessels leave the green buoys to starboard while making their way towards St. Peter's.

Lennox Passage Swing Bridge in 1936

Bridging the passageEdit

Chartlet of Chedabucto Bay, Lennox Passage, Lennox Passage Bridge and Isle Madame, Nova Scotia, Canada

Initially crossed by two ferries, (one from the present location of the bridge and one from Grandique Point to Grandique Ferry), construction of a swing bridge began in 1916 and was completed in 1919, connecting Isle Madame to Cape Breton. This bridge was horse-operated and according to Canadian yachtsman and author Silver Donald Cameron, a former resident of D'Escousse) in his book "Wind, whales and whisky" (page 14), was powered by Stanley Forgeron's rather temperamental horse in 1967 when Farley Mowat sailed through the passage aboard Happy Adventure on his way to Expo67.

In February 1970 following the grounding and subsequent breakup of the Liberian-registered tanker Arrow[3][4] on Cerberus Rock in Chedabucto Bay and the resulting spill of 77,000 to 82,500 barrels (more than 2 million gallons)[5] of bunker C oil, the decision was made by the Nova Scotia Government to construct two causeways between Burnt Point and Burnt Island [6] to stop the spread of the Arrow's spilled cargo into the lucrative fishing areas of the Passage as well as the coastline to the east.

Lennox Passage Bridge (from the east) in 2011

After the oil spill cleanup by the mid-1970s, the Government left one causeway in place because the 1919 bridge had rusted beyond repair and in response to the needs of marine interests built the Lennox Passage Bridge, a four-span, 98.5 metres (323 ft) bascule bridge with two concrete spans, a counterweight span and an electrically powered single-leaf bascule bridge carrying Nova Scotia Route 320.[7]

When closed, the bridge has a vertical clearance of 5.5 metres (18 ft) at high tide,[8] possibly as much as 7.3 metres (24 ft) at a very low tide.[9]

Bridge inoperableEdit

Beginning in 2010, marine interests were advised that the heat of the day in summer months may make it impossible for the bridge operator to lift the span, forcing vessels to either wait at anchor or make the voyage around the east coast of Isle Madame. The Nova Scotia Government advised the public that repairs to the structure were scheduled as an ongoing project beginning in 2015–2016.[10]

By 2018 the repairs had still not been carried out and it was announced that the Lennox Bridge was inoperable and pleasure craft with an air draft of over 5.5 metres (18 ft) at high tide[8][9] would not be able to pass through.[11]

In the fall of 2018 a tender to repair the lift bridge at Lennox Passage was awarded at a cost of $4.54 million to Allsteel Coatings Ltd. of Port Hastings.[12][7] The work had been scaled back slightly from the original vision after the only bid came back more expensive than anticipated.[12]

In 2019 a Navigational Warning was issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada advising the air draft under the Lennox Passage bridge was be reduced to 10 feet (3.3 metres) at high tide until September 5, 2019.[13]

In August 2019 in an interview, Lloyd Hall, district bridge engineer with Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, explained while it was originally hoped the work would conclude in time for the bridge to reopen for the 2019 boating season, the work now isn't expected to be finished until mid- to late-October 2019.[12]

In September 2019, the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure renewal announced that the bridge would be open for the 2020 boating season.[14][15]


  1. ^ "Maritime Boating.com". Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  2. ^ "Purchase charts for navigational use". 2019-07-11.
  3. ^ Nova Scotia.ca museum
  4. ^ greenislandlighthouse.com
  5. ^ "SupSalv.org page 5 of 114" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-17. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  6. ^ "Lennox Passage causeways built between Burnt Point and Burnt Island Fig. 40 page 101 of 114" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-17. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  7. ^ a b boudrot, John (20 August 2019). "Timeline for repairs extended, cost increase for Lennox Passage Bridge". The Port Hawksbury Reporter. Advocate Media. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b Chisholm, Allan P., P.Eng., NSLS, Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal A/Eastern District Bridge Engineer. Lennox Passage Bridge (Report).
  9. ^ a b Boudrot, Jake (2018-05-30). "Yacht Club Concerned With Condition of Lennox Passage Lift Bridge". Port Hawkesbury Reporter. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  10. ^ N.S. Govt. 5-year plan details
  11. ^ Martin, Wendy. "Broken bridge could send pleasure boats away from Bras d'Or Lake". CBC News. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  12. ^ a b c King, Nancy (15 August 2019). "Lennox Passage bridge repairs more extensive than anticipated". Cape Breton Post. SaltWire Network. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Air draft under Lennox Passage reduced to 10ft at high tide". Navigational Warnings (NAVWARNs). Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  14. ^ Boudrot, Jake (18 September 2019). "DTIR expects bridge to be open for boaters next year". Port Hawkesbury Reporter. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  15. ^ King, Nancy (3 December 2019). "Lennox Passage bridge completed but overbudget". Cape Breton Post. Retrieved 30 June 2020.

Further readingEdit

  • Wind, whales and whisky- Silver Donald Cameron- - Macmillan Canada, 1991; ISBN 07715-9138-1