Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge luncheon and
50th anniversary plaque dedication focuses on people
November 1, 2012 – The year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge came to a formal conclusion Wednesday with a commemorative luncheon and public dedication of the 50th anniversary plaque.
The day brought together more than 150 invited guests, including past and present staff and board members, as well as those representing local, provincial, state, and federal agencies and groups that have been part of the long legacy of bi-national partnership in place at the bridge. The luncheon featured an a cappella rendition of the U.S. and Canadian national anthems by International Bridge Administration (IBA) toll attendant Rachel Reinke, followed by a performance and invocation by Josh Homminga and Cecil Pavlat celebrating the Native American cultural influences in our community and our nations.
Formal introductions of officials representing both cities and agencies, from both the UnitedStates and Canada, were made by Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) Chair Scott Shackleton and Vice Chair James McIntyre.
State Rep. Frank Foster presented a special tribute signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, State Sen. Howard Walker, and himself.
”People in my community know what bridges do for them,” Foster said. “People in my community understand that bridges aren’t just steel and concrete, that bridges are lifelines for families, for friends, for commerce, for cultural opportunities.”
Sault Michigan Mayor Tony Bosbous discussed benefits the communities have derived from the bridge’s presence.
”The bridge without a doubt has certainly helped the growth of both Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario,” Bosbous said. “It’s great to be able to celebrate 50 years.”
In her comments, Sault Ontario Mayor Debbie Amaroso recalled a tour she took atop the bridge arches.
”It was really hard to describe the feeling of connectedness I felt,” she said. “Both lands, sewn together by this majestic structure, that tethered over the St. Mary’s River, the Locks, the rapids, and attached our two countries, our two cities, and our homes.”
Representatives for U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, and Gov. Snyder read messages expressing congratulations on the anniversary.
The formal gathering concluded with special recognition of McIntyre, long-time bridge authority board member and current vice chair. McIntyre was presented a bronze plaque in tribute to his 52 years of involvement in the bridge, which started when he was mayor of Sault Ontario from1960-1964. Since that time, McIntyre has stayed involved in the bridge by serving on the board of the St. Mary’s River Bridge Co. (SMRBC), the Canadian board of directors representing the federal government interests in the governance and operation of the bridge.
McIntyre served as president of SMRBC for decades, and was the first chairperson of the Joint International Bridge Authority (JIBA), the bi-national governance board established in September 2000 when the bridge construction bonds were retired. He has since served a number of one-year terms as the chair of the JIBA and its successor, SSMBA.
Micheline Dubé, the CEO of the Federal Bridge Corporation Ltd., the crown corporation that represents SMRBC in Ottawa, summed up Mr. McIntyre’s long legacy of untiring service and committed leadership to the bridge: “Jim is a real gentleman whose wisdom and passion for the bridge and the citizens we serve in our two great countries has had a profound impact in advancing our bi-national partnership. Today we celebrate the beneficial impact that a bridge, and a man, Jim McIntyre, have had on our bi-national community.”
Following the luncheon there was a public unveiling and dedication of a large bronze 50th anniversary plaque. Identical plaques will be installed at each end of the bridge.
”This has been a very memorable year for past and present bridge staff, board members, and representatives,” said IBA General Manager Phil Becker. ”We are all extremely gratified at the overwhelming positive response from our bi-national community for our efforts to make this truly a community based ‘Celebration of International Friendship.’”