Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a simple suspension bridge crossing the Capilano River in the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The current bridge is 136 metres long and 70 metres above the river. It is part of a private facility, with a charge for admission, and draws over 800,000 visitors a year. North Shore residents often go to the nearby Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge instead, as there is no admission fee, although British Columbia residents receive a seasons pass with the price of admissions and a valid ID.

By the Numbers

  • Design Simple Suspension
  • Total length 136 meters (446 ft)
  • Height 70 meters (230 ft)
  • 800,000 visitors per year
  • Opening date 1888

History

In 1888, George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and land developer, arrived in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. As City Park Commissioner he was one of the people to set aside Stanley Park as a recreational area. He also bought and sold farm land in the Okanagan, founding the city of Vernon. Mackay purchased 24 square kilometres of dense forest on either side of Capilano River and built a cabin on the very edge of the canyon wall. Assisted by two local natives and a team of horses, Mackay suspended a hemp rope and cedar plank bridge across the river. Natives called it the “laughing bridge” because of the noise it made when wind blew through the canyon. The bridge and Mackay’s cabin became a popular destination. After his death, the hemp rope bridge was replaced by a wire cable bridge in 1903.

In 1910 Edward Mahon purchased the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Mahon built the Tea House in 1911, using cedar timbers stacked one on top of the other. Unsure of the bridge’s strength, Mahon reinforced it with additional cables in 1914.

“Mac” MacEachran purchased the Bridge from Mahon in 1935 and invited local natives to place their totem poles in the park, adding a native theme. In 1945, he sold the bridge to Henri Aubeneau.

In 1953 Rae Mitchell purchased the bridge property from Henri Aubeneau. A dynamic businessman, Mitchell aggressively promoted his attraction world-wide. Unsure of the 1914 cable strength, he completely rebuilt the bridge in 5 days in 1956, encasing the cables in 11.8 tonnes of concrete at either end. He developed the trails on the west side of the bridge and converted the Tea House into the Trading Post Gift Store. When Mitchell retired, business declined and Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park faced an uncertain future.

The park was sold to Nancy Stibbard, the current owner, in 1983. Annual attendance has since increased, and in May 2004, Treetops Adventures was opened. This new attraction consists of seven footbridges suspended between old-growth Douglas Fir trees on the west side of the canyon, forming a walkway up to 30 metres above the forest floor.

Other park features

As well as the bridge itself and Treetops Adventure, the park also features rain forest ecotours, award-winning gardens, nature trails, North America’s largest private collection of First Nations story poles, period decor and costumes, and exhibits highlighting the park’s history and the surrounding temperate rain forest. Guests can also witness a First Nations performance, featuring their traditional Regalia (ceremonial dress), masks, dancing and storytelling.

In 2006, a 300 year old Douglas fir tree toppled during a heavy snow storm. The tree fell across the western end of the bridge. Park officials closed the bridge temporarily while repairs were performed.

Popular culture

The bridge has been featured as a setting in episodes of several television series, including MacGyver, Sliders, and The Crow: Stairway to Heaven.

Attractions

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2 Reviews

  1. Kim, 6 years ago

    This is a great place to take anyone visiting the city!! Just the location it’s in with the forest and the scare of being up so high makes it a perfect tourist attraction. Although if you don’t want to pay the admission price Lynn Valley has a bridge that’s free.

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  2. Pete Reynolds, 5 years ago

    We went there a while back as a family and it was a blast. It is so beautiful in the treetops and it had just recently rained, so we had fun sliding down all the walkways. It was worth it.

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