'Never seen anything like that': Ice cut into patterns by P.E.I.'s Confederation Bridge

When Paul Tymstra snapped a photo from 2,300 metres in the air, the pilot didn't initially realize how spectacular his picture really was. Since he posted his recent photo of ice patterns made by Confederation Bridge on social media, more than 800 people have shared it.

Picture taken from 2,300 metres in the air has fascinated viewers on social media

Pilot Paul Tymstra snapped this photo from his plane Wednesday afternoon. It shows ice cut into geometric patterns by Confederation Bridge. (Paul Tymstra)

When Paul Tymstra snapped a photo from the cockpit of his plane, which was nearly 2,300 metres in the air, he didn't initially realize how spectacular the picture really was.

"I only took one single shot and I didn't think too much of it. I see a lot of things," said Tymstra, who is a pilot and runs Sea Eagle Aviation, a flight school on Prince Edward Island.

Tymstra said he was in the middle of a training flight from Fredericton on Wednesday afternoon when he began preparing for descent to Charlottetown.

Just as the plane was crossing over from New Brunswick to P.E.I., Tymstra looked down at Confederation Bridge and noticed a huge pattern that had formed in the ice on the Northumberland Strait.

The concrete bridge is Canada's longest bridge, measuring 12,900 metres, and connects P.E.I. with mainland New Brunswick at Abegweit Passage, the narrowest part of the Northumberland Strait. Tidal currents in this area can reach more than 7 km/h.

"Just to the west of the bridge, it's all a solid sheet," said Tymstra, "but when it went underneath the Confederation Bridge, it's like it sliced it, and how it broke off so evenly, I thought 'wow.'"

'It's quite remarkable'

"As far as I could see, those squares were going on for miles and miles, and it's just a very interesting sight."

Tymstra said he quickly managed to take a photo on his phone and then continued his descent to Charlottetown.

It wasn't until he showed his wife later that evening that he realized just how unusual the pattern in the ice was.

"I've never seen anything like that anywhere, ever," Tymstra said. "It's quite remarkable." 

Tymstra decided to post the photo to social media, where it has been shared more than 800 times and liked by more than 2,000 people on Twitter.

People commented on the strength of Confederation Bridge, and its ability to withstand the force of the wind and ice.

Others noticed the formation of ice shared a resemblance to other tools.

Tymstra said he plans to keep on eye on the weather over the next few days in the hope of taking flight again and getting another glimpse at the ice patterns.


Nicole Williams

Video Journalist

Nicole Williams is a journalist with CBC Ottawa. She previously worked in P.E.I. and Toronto. Write in confidence to