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Beautiful Ambassador Bridge blocks (con't)

You see, these just aren't any old garden pavers.

They 're industrial grade and actually come from the Ambassador Bridge.

Once upon a time the bridge used them, almost like cobblestones, for traction to get trucks up the ramps.

They were eventually removed and replaced by asphalt.

But the bridge company decided to donate the thousands of blocks to the City of Windsor's Parks and Recreation Department.

There are still piles of them in the city's Mill Street warehouse, according to the nature centre's naturalist Paul Pratt.

Pratt said the bricks have been used extensively in Windsor's parks system and are quite visible, for example, in Reaume Park.

They have been also used to make walkways and border gardens.

They serve "a lot of purposes," he said.

"They're nice solid granite and so they're very attractive."

The blocks were originally embedded in sand for the bridge roadway.

In 1970 almost $1 million was spent to replace bridge decking and the blocks were removed at that time.

The blocks are a defining feature in the modern, almost sculpted-like new nature centre - which had its grand opening last June to coincide with the the 50th anniversary of the park - and serves as the introduction to the city's unique expanse of natural complexes that skirt Windsor's western limits - often identified as the Ojibway Prairie Complex.

Some 14,000 pavers were used, says Pratt.

The blocks are particularly attractive on the interior wall around the fireplace, as shown in the photo.

The blocks aren't of local origin but came from the Blair Quarry in Fairfield County, South Carolina.

Pratt says NORR Architects also found another benefit in using them.

They "doubled the points" for Gold certification as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building.

But "they also liked it for the character," he said.

"They fit well with nature."


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