Capilano Suspension Bridge 1889

Our Story

Stories to Tell

guests on capilano suspension bridge 1911
story book

Inspired by the Past, Looking to the Future

The Park has a rich history, getting its name, Capilano, from the Squamish Nation’s Kia’palano, which means “beautiful river.” This was the name of a great chief who lived in this area in the early part of the 1800s. The Park’s story is about enterprise and engineering feats, an appreciation for the land and an eagerness to share its wondrous beauty with the world, and about respect for cultural traditions, and a commitment to environmental conservation.

Timeline
  • 1888

    George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and land developer, arrived in the young city of Vancouver. Mackay purchased 6,000 acres of dense forest on either side of Capilano River and built a cabin on the very edge of the canyon wall.

    original cliffhouse cabin 1900
  • 1889

    Mackay suspended a footbridge made of hemp rope and cedar planks across the canyon. Mackay enlisted the help of August Jack Khahtsahlano with a team of horses who swam the ropes across the river. The ropes were then pulled up the other side and anchored to huge buried cedar logs.

    guests on original capilano suspension bridge 1889
  • 1893

    The bridge, and Mackay’s cabin, became a popular destination for adventurous locals, who were dubbed the Capilano Tramps. They made a long journey by steamship before ‘tramping’ up the rough trail to Mackay’s property. After his death, the hemp rope bridge was replaced by a wire cable bridge in 1903.

    canyon view of capilano suspension bridge
    capilano tramps capilano suspension bridge
  • 1914

    Edward Mahon, who had arrived in Vancouver in 1888, purchased Capilano Suspension Bridge. In 1911, Mahon built the Tea House and continued to improve the property, reinforcing the bridge with additional wire cables in 1914.

  • 1934

    “Mac” MacEachran, a former forest ranger, purchased the Bridge from Mahon in 1935. Mac invited local First Nations to place their totem poles in the Park. In 1945, he sold the bridge to Henri Aubeneau and moved to California.

    mac macheachran with dogs at capilano suspension bridge 1934
    front gate of capilano suspension bridge 1930
  • 1953

    Rae Mitchell purchased the bridge property from Henri Aubeneau, aggressively promoting his attraction to the world. In 1956, He completely rebuilt the bridge in five days, encasing the cables in 13 tons of concrete at either end. He also developed the trails on the west side of the bridge and converted the Tea House into the Thunderbird Banquet Room.

  • 1983

    Nancy Stibbard purchased Capilano Suspension Bridge in 1983 from her father Rae Mitchell. Her goal, to elevate the Park from a mere stop-off to a world class destination attraction, was realized in less than ten years. Nancy’s incredible success has included induction into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame in 2000.

    Nancy Stibbard’s Forward-Thinking Vision

    Purchasing Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in 1983, Nancy has spearheaded the attraction’s development and phenomenal success ever since. Her commitment to exceeding guest expectations and to creating truly memorable guest experiences guides every aspect of her approach to business. 

    Nancy found initial success in retail, enhancing the merchandise at Capilano’s Trading Post. She opened new stores in BC and Alberta, then purchased and rebuilt two luxury accommodation properties in the Canadian Rockies. In 2014, Nancy added Stanley Park Pavilion and Prospect Point Bar and Grill and Gift Shop to the Capilano Group portfolio. In everything she does, Nancy aims to provide guests with a seamlessly enjoyable experience, achieving this through a commitment to theme, keen attention to detail and extensive team training.

    Nancy Stibbard owner of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

    Leading by Example

    Dedicated to environmental stewardship, the Capilano Group strives to be a leader in the tourism industry. Environmental stewardship promotes and encourages superior environmental performance at all of the Capilano Group properties. By seeking to reduce the impact on the environment beyond measures required by governmental permit or rule, we will produce a better environment, conserving natural resources and ensuring our long-term sustainability.

    Environmental Stewardship

    • Committed partner to the Metro Vancouver zero waste challenge
    • Treetops Adventure won the 2006 APEGBC Environmental Award for Design and Construction
    • On-site composting and contracted services for organic waste
    • Wildlife partnerships with Raptors Ridge
    • On-site restaurants are members of the Ocean Wise Seafood program
    • Converted to the most energy-efficient bulbs and ballasts
    • Planted over 2,000 trees and shrubs in our rainforest over the last three years
    • Working towards our long-term goal of becoming a carbon neutral operation

    Meet Our People

    Our great guest experience is made possible by our wonderful team—including the friendly people greeting and guiding guests through the Park, the talented artists creating spectacular displays, and those working behind the scenes.

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