Del Gingrich has worked in the St. Jacobs Visitor Centre for more than a decade; nearly every day, someone comes in with a question about the ‘Kissing Bridge’ in West Montrose. In that time, he’s come to learn much about the famous covered bridge.
Now, Gingrich has decided to put together all the knowledge that he has gained, compiling it into a book, The Kissing Bridge: The story of Ontario’s only covered bridge, and West Montrose, the quiet, charming village whose sides it connects.
“We get hundreds, maybe even thousands of people coming in and asking how they can find the bridge,” Gingrich explained of the impetus behind the book.
Rather than simply giving directions, now Gingrich can give them the full story contained in his book filled with history, traditions, anecdotes and pictures of the famous landmark.
“In a way I guess it’s a tribute to the bridge; something that has been an important part of our community for so long. There have also been many notable people in the little village of West Montrose over the years and even at the present time and this is an interesting account of them.”
As well as being employed at the visitors centre, Gingrich worked previously as a school principal and he now lives with his wife in Elmira. His previous book, A Quilt of Impressions, told the story of Old Order Mennonite children who attended schools where he worked.
Gingrich said the span’s allure goes beyond its being the only remaining covered bridge in Ontario.
“It’s the whole setting because West Montrose itself is this charming little village. You see the horse and buggy, and you can take a step back in time,” he noted. “There is a historic aspect to it: it is its own museum in a way. And then there is a romantic part of it as well – the bridge adds a lot to the charm and quietness of the area.”
Gingrich said he is extremely pleased about the publication of his latest book, as the bridge holds a very special place in his heart.
“I grew up in Elmira and we used to go biking over to the bridge and go on hikes through there as well. I have a personal connection because I know so many of the people from the area who used to live there and those who live there at the present time. Telling their story has been a great pleasure.”
The book will be available for purchase at Busy Bee Quilts in Elmira, The Stone Crock in St. Jacobs, Words Worth Books in Waterloo and the stores in West Montrose, Floradale, Wallenstein and Linwood.