Friday, November 18, 2016

Bridge over calming waters at Vancouver's Capilano Bridge Park

Cookie and Keller enjoy the view from high atop the trees on "Cliffwalk," one of several adventures at
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver, B.C. The bridge has attracted crowds for a century plus.

Tourists from around the world visit Vancouver's Capilano Suspension
Bridge Park to commune with nature via bridges, trails, tree houses.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park offers a full day
of adventures, climbs, walks, totems, history and birds.
WHEN A CLEVER Scottish engineer conceived of the idea of a bridge across the Capilano River in West Vancouver, B.C., people laughed. He'd admired the river, had fished for trout and salmon in it, watched raptors swoop down to take their dinner from it.  He wanted to share its wonders with his friends, so devised a bridge of hemp ropes and cedar planks.  People loved it!
The bridge was originally built in 1889 by Mackay, an enterprising developer and park commissioner in Vancouver. His hemp and cedar creation was replaced with a sturdier wire cable bridge in 1903. In 1910 Edward Mahon purchased the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which has been reinforced and updated through the decades and is now visited by nearly 900,000 adventure seekers a year.
A great horned owl is one of the stars of "Raptor's Ridge." 
WE WERE among hundreds to spend a lovely autumn day on the 450-foot long bridge, finding it indeed "reassuringly wobbly" as  the brochure promises.  We also got up close and Climb with us in Sydney, Auckland
personal with legendary birds of prey, listening to a fascinating naturalist-trainer describe his devotion to the great horned owl and Harris hawk in a delightful sanctuary for rescued birds, "Raptor's Ridge."  We even took the scary "Cliffwalk," a suspended walkway along sheer granite cliff faces several hundred feet above the river.
The gorgeous site was first admired by developer Mackay in 1888, when he purchased 24 square kilometres of old growth forest on both sides of the Capilano River just north of the city. Enchanted by the views, he was also an early-day environmentalist. He was 65 when he built a simple cabin at the southern edge of the canyon, hoping to stem the trend of logging which he saw all around him.
Determined to protect his beloved recreational property on the river's north shore, he took up residency and became a constant presence.
THE BRIDGE idea was his way of consolidating the two halves of his property. Vintage photos show the ladies hitching up their skirts to make the rickety walk. I was in jeans, but still found the experience daunting. The bridge sways and moves and kids jumped on it to frighten one another -- and me! "Heart-stopping," the guide predicted.  Not quite, but for this newly converted climber, now with six bridges under my climber's belt, I  admit it made my palms and forehead sweat.
Keller peeks out from behind a First Nations totem at the park.
It is one of several intricately carved totems telling native people stories.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a wonderful place for an outing by anyone who is moderately fit. It is much loved by locals and tourists alike and is, by many accounts, the most visited site in British Columbia, Canada. The well designed experience begins with a look at First Nations totems, then a wonderfully curated display of photos and memorabilia to bring to life the stories of the bridge and park's invention.  
Visitors commune with nature, high
atop the trees on various walkways
and bridges into the rain forest.

Butterflies delight tourists from around the world, in Canada's 
appealing Victoria Butterfly Gardens in British Columbia.

UP  NEXT: Butterflies enchant
Cookie wherever she travels, since one landed on her nose when she was three, on a visit to her great aunt Lilian's farm in Kansas. But we're not in Kansas anymore -- we're at Victoria, B.C.'s Butterfly Gardens, with more than two dozen types of wondrous butterflies, plus some carnivorous plants, gorgeous moths, noisy parrots, well fed tortoises and flamingos. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekends when we post another story about our nature- and arts-driven globe trotting


  1. We caught the first bridge climb these adventure rs dared. This is a grand and original idea. Climb on.

  2. I couldn't begin to do such a climb but tip my "scardey cat hat" to these intrepid, lively two.