Engineer’s family donates important drawing

November 26, 2021

Past-CEO Steve Snider poses with a donated, historic sketch of the Macdonald Bridge.

A rare pen and ink concept drawing by one of the engineers that helped build the Macdonald Bridge was donated to Halifax Harbour Bridges recently.

The 1949 drawing of the proposed Angus L. Macdonald Bridge was created by Charles A.E. Fowler as he tried to get a feel for how the bridge uniting Halifax and Dartmouth would fit into the landscape.

“He was proud of the drawing. It hung outside his home office for years, so he would see it every day,” said his son Graham Fowler. “There were some copies commissioned for the bridge commissionaires at the time, but this was the original.”

Charles Fowler died in August 2021 at age 100. Born in 1921, he was raised and educated in Halifax. He was a graduate of Dalhousie University (BSc.), McGill University (BEng), and University of Manitoba (BArch). He deployed overseas to the European theatre as part of the post-WWII reparations effort.

After returning to Halifax, he joined his father at C.A Fowler & Co. which later evolved into Fowler, Bauld and Mitchell.

His architectural and engineer credits include Centre 2000 in Sydney and the Dalhousie Arts Centre- Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, but his daughter Beverley Charlton said he considered the work on the Macdonald Bridge as one of the more significant milestones in his career.

“We are thrilled to receive this drawing and we will make sure it is displayed appropriately,” said HHB General Manager and CEO Steve Snider. “There are people getting their driver’s licences today who don’t remember it was once a two-lane bridge.”

Fowler’s son-in-law Patrick Charlton said Charles was proud of the fact the bridge he helped build was sturdy enough to accommodate a third lane, a bikeway and a walking path.

Along with the drawing, the Fowler and Charlton families donated some small scale architectural drawings, photographs and a copy of the program from the day the bridge was officially opened.

The drawing now hangs in the hall of HHB main office just off the Macdonald Bridge.