Mistissini Wooden Bridge: A Sustainable Solution for an Essential Road Link

"Why Wood is Making a Comeback as a Sustainable and Durable Building Material"

Fri 17 Feb 23


In 2015, the community of Mistissini in Quebec, Canada, faced a significant challenge when their only road bridge was deemed unsafe and required immediate replacement. The community needed a solution that would be strong, durable, and would not damage the local environment. This case study examines the Mistissini Wooden Bridge project and how it was developed, designed and constructed, and the results of this innovative solution.

The challenge

Mistissini is a remote town in Quebec, surrounded by forests, lakes, and rivers. The town had only one road bridge that connected it to the rest of the region. The bridge was a critical transportation link for the community, but it was deemed unsafe and needed immediate replacement. The challenge was to find a solution that would not only meet the safety requirements but also be environmentally friendly and sustainable.

The Mistissini Bridge in Mistissini, Que., one of the largest wooden structures in Canada, recently won two national awards at the 2016 Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards (Stantec)
The Mistissini Bridge is one of North Americas longest wooden bridges (160m).

The solution

After considering several options, the Mistissini community decided to build a wooden bridge. The community wanted to use locally sourced materials and promote sustainable development. They also wanted the bridge to blend in with the natural surroundings and reflect the culture of the Cree Nation. The bridge would need to withstand the harsh climate of the region, including heavy snowfalls and freezing temperatures.

Design and construction

The design and construction of the Mistissini Wooden Bridge were complex and challenging. The bridge was designed to be a truss bridge, which would provide the necessary strength and stability. The trusses were made from laminated timber, which is a strong and durable material that can withstand heavy loads. The deck of the bridge was made from Douglas fir, a dense and strong wood that is ideal for bridge construction.

The construction of the Mistissini Wooden Bridge was done using traditional methods, which involved using hand tools and local labor. The bridge was assembled on-site, which reduced transportation costs and minimized the impact on the environment. The construction process took several months, and the bridge was completed in 2017.

In 2017 the bridge received the TAC Environmental Achievement Award.


The Mistissini Wooden Bridge has been a resounding success. The bridge has become a landmark for the town and has been widely celebrated for its design, sustainability, and innovation. The bridge has also helped to boost the local economy by promoting sustainable development and attracting visitors to the area. The Mistissini community has shown that it is possible to build a safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly bridge that reflects the local culture and values.


The Mistissini Wooden Bridge is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the Mistissini community. The bridge has become a symbol of sustainable development and a model for other communities looking to promote environmentally friendly and culturally appropriate development. The Mistissini Wooden Bridge is proof that with the right design, materials, and construction techniques, it is possible to build a safe.


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