DEMPSTER, Eleonore




Author Tags: Local History

The world famous Capilano Suspension Bridge was originally built in 1889 with hemp rope by August Jack Khahtsahlano and his brother for North Vancouver developer George Grant Mackay. The various bridges and owners that followed, attracting countless thousands of tourists, are all described in Eleanore Dempster's The Laughing Bridge (Impressions in Print Enterprises/Soules $9.95), published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the crossing. "In 1889, the Indians manoeuvred ropes down the east side of the Capilano Canyon, pulled the ropes across the river with horses, and then August Jack and his brother Willie dragged the ropes up the west side where they fastened them to two stumps," writes Dempster. "It was referred to as the 'laughing bridge' because of the sound the wind used to make when it blew through." Its owner in 1903, Bruno Stelzer, replaced the original hemp-and-cedar crossing with steel cables in 1902. At 250-feet high, and 450-feet across, it was the longest and highest suspension bridge in the world. After owner Edward Mahon added a teahouse in 1910, he re-constructed the bridge with secondary cables in 1914. It has remained one of Vancouver's primary tourist attractions ever since, attracting approximately 80,000 visitors per year. The current version was built in 1956 by owner Rae Mitchell, who sold ownership to his daughter Nancy Stibbard. In Vancouver Then And Now (2010) by Francis Mansbridge, he reports visitors have included The Rolling Stones, Marilyn Monroe, Margaret Thatcher and Kevin Costner.

[BCBW 2010] "Local History"