Rockland Bridge, 1981-2000

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Thaddeus Holownia

Rockland Bridge, 1981-2000


When I first visited the bridge in 1977, it was only open to foot traffic. I was immediately interested in the sub-structure holding the bridge in place. Exposed to harsh elements of rushing tides and ice in the winter these piers were quite an engineering feat. When in 1978 the bridge was lost, I subsequently discovered that the bridge had in fact been rebuilt three times since 1869. Tides in the Bay of Fundy are the highest in the world, and the destruction of the Rockland Bridge and its piers is a testament to the power of nature.

- Thaddeus Holownia


The Rockland Bridge over the Memramcook River connected the communities of Upper Dorchester and Taylor Village, New Brunswick. It was taken out by an exceptionally high tide and high winds on the morning of January 10, 1978. Although considered by many people at the time as not a particularly important architectural structure, it had served as a link between the two communities for over 100 years. It was the second longest covered bridge in New Brunswick. The four stone filled timber cribs and abutments which supported the bridge were unique and of interest as most such structures had been replaced by poured concrete piers. Constructed of hardwood timbers and placed on the riverbed, they were then sheathed in hardwood varying from four to six inches in thickness. 


Thaddeus Holownia explores the intersections of nature and humanity. Specifically, he deals with how humanity changes landscape, how the forces of nature mould human structures, and how the two coexist. His work calls attention to various ecological and political issues that are of growing concern. Holownia's practice uses altered landscapes to convey the precarious relationship between man and nature. To expose these landscapes he returns to a place over years, even decades, and creates a photographic catalogue of the transformation.

As a young artist, Holownia was part of Toronto’s hip and burgeoning art scene. He left Toronto in 1977 for a two-year teaching job at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Professor Holownia became Head of the Photography Department and is now Head of the Fine Arts Department. Enchanted by his surroundings, Holownia remained there and has never returned to living in an urban environment. His move to the Maritimes served to heighten his awareness of deeper moral and spiritual issues that are now the foundations of his ecologically conscious work.