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Historic Mattaini bridges to be demolished

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ELORA — A small, simple tombstone in this village marks Charles Mattaini’s final resting place.

It’s been heavily weathered since being carved in 1947, yet it might outlast the other massive monuments around Ontario that salute Mattaini’s time with us on this orb.

A retired bowstring bridge in Guelph now a pedestrian bridge over the Eramosa River.
A retired bowstring bridge in Guelph now a pedestrian bridge over the Eramosa River.

Nobody is swinging a wrecking ball at the small tombstone, but wrecking balls are threatening the beautiful bridges Mattaini designed and built throughout Southwestern Ontario. Many of those famous bowstring arch bridges are nearly 100 years old and having trouble carrying today’s heavy volume of road traffic across Ontario rivers.

They’re rapidly being replaced, but some heritage fans are campaigning to save the bridges; if not as active traffic bridges at least still standing beside their modern replacements as a footbridge over a river.

In one case a 66-ton bridge was picked up in one piece and moved 20 kilometres to the Wellington County Museum in Fergus. It’s now part of the 47-kilometre-long Elora Cataract Trailway that connects the Grand River to the Credit River and is part of the TransCanada Trail.

Charles Borromeo Mattaini was 19 when he immigrated to Canada in 1892 from Italy and brought with him an appreciation and knowledge of concrete and stone arches that he had acquired while carving tunnels through the Alps to connect Italy and Switzerland.

A biker crosses bowstring bridge moved 20 kilometres to be part of the Elora Cataract Trailway.
A biker crosses bowstring bridge moved 20 kilometres to be part of the Elora Cataract Trailway.  (Patrick Brennan/For the Toronto Star)

Soon after he arrived in Fergus, 18 kilometres north of Guelph, he started his own construction company. At first he made concrete garden statues, often of naked women, but had trouble selling them to his prudish Scottish neighbours. He said Irish immigrants did want them but couldn’t afford them.

Mattaini had never built a bridge when Wellington County sought bids to build a bridge over the Grand River. County councillors had never before seen the bridge design Mattaini submitted.

It had concrete arches soaring high above the bridge deck. Mattaini pointed out not only is it quite decorative, it also eliminates the need for supportive arches below the deck and therefore ideal for bridges where the riverbanks are not very high.

It was called a bowstring bridge because of its profile. The design was also often called a rainbow arch bridge, again because of its shape.

Mattaini’s firm eventually built close to 70 of his rainbow bridges around Southwestern Ontario, primarily in Wellington and Waterloo counties, but also in Peel, Grey and Bruce counties.

The arch bridges are popular with photographers and landscape painters because they’re often in a rural or natural setting.

Mattaini never patented his arch bridge design. He said it was a gift to the country that welcomed him to a new life.

He encouraged foremen on his various construction crews building bridges around the province to sign their names in the wet concrete. One bridge carries the name Marie Mattaini – Charles’ wife – who never went near the construction site. It was a joke and gift from her husband.

The construction crews often camped on the riverbanks where they were building a bridge.

Canada’s longest bowstring bridge — nine arches in Caledonia, Ontario.
Canada’s longest bowstring bridge — nine arches in Caledonia, Ontario.  (Patrick Brennan/For the Toronto Star)

Using Mattaini’s design the Randolph MacDonald Construction Company of Toronto built the longest bowstring bridge in Canada in 1927. It’s a nine-arch bridge stretching 213 metres across the Grand River in Caledonia, a few kilometres up stream from where The Grand empties into Lake Erie.

Even this historic bridge is scheduled to be demolished, although many locals are trying to find an alternative.

The seven-arch Freeport bowstring bridge on King Street in Kitchener was built across the Grand River in 1926 and still plays a vital role in the community’s life because it underwent a $3.5 million rehabilitation in 2003. When it was built in 1926 it introduced a new concept in road bridges – an attached pedestrian sidewalk.

Pat Mestern, Mattaini’s granddaughter, is a well-known novelist and blogger who lives in Fergus. She writes about her visits to some of her grandfather’s bridges to say goodbye, as they’ll soon have a date with a wrecking ball.

His construction firm did general construction work too. He built the Fergus Grand Theatre in 1926 and it is today one of the most popular entertainment venues in Wellington County.

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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