Don Stuart Architect

Capilano Suspension Bridge - Canyon Deck


The old timber building beside the entrance to the Capilano suspension bridge has an interesting story. It was built sometime around 1908 by a team of Japanese carpenters from timber cut and milled in the canyon. The walls are all formed of 3 x 8 timbers- all sides fully bull nosed- laid flat, one atop the other, much like a pan-abode structure. It is a unique building, quite charming, and a wonderful blend of both techniques and cultures.

This building sits at the very edge of Capilano canyon. By 1994 there had been some sloughing off of soil and undermining of several of the outermost footings. Remediation was required. At the time, an additional issue for the owner was the constricted access, and subsequent underutilization, of the north end of the site.

A solution was developed to address both issues. A deck would be cantilevered out over the canyon edge beyond the existing building, running from the suspension bridge to the north end of the site. The deck footings would be created, and the structure put in place, at the same time the existing building footings were remediated. The deck beams would support both building and deck. The weight of the building overhead would anchor the cantilever of the deck.

As the beams were too heavy to be airlifted into place by helicopter, a plan was devised to slide them underneath the building from behind. This required creating tunnels through an existing crawlspace beneath the building to allow for passage of the beams.

Before any new footings could be placed along the canyon edge, the top of the canyon wall had to be stabilized. A substantial program of rock bolting and reinforcing was undertaken, and the footings then established. Posts were erected and the beams were slowly winched out from under the building and into position.

The deck is well used today and enjoyed by all. It allows visitors to walk a considerable distance along the edge of the canyon. Those too intimidated to cross the suspension bridge particularly appreciate it. Access to the north end of the site has been much improved, and it is now well used.


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