Unlocking North Vancouver History

Wilderness on the Doorstep: Vancouver’s Mountain Playground

The Catwalk by Capilano Flume

The Capilano flume, which lasted from 1905 until World War I, was popular with people who enjoyed dramatic vistas while “walking the flume”–actually, its catwalk–on Sundays. Young daredevils also rode stretches of local flumes on the moving shingle bolts*, which must have been both exhilarating and dangerous. According to local lore, infants, animals and objects that accidentally fell in didn’t usually survive, and some people disposed of unwanted pets or garbage this way. Others illegally did laundry in the rushing water. The North Shore’s various wet and dry flumes were feats of engineering, built by Native and Japanese workers through steep and rough terrain–with quite a few perishing in the process. The Capilano flume clung to the sheer Second Canyon 60 m above the river; at 14.5 km, it was the longest in North America. Another major one ran out of Lynn Valley to the Moodyville waterfront.

*Shingle bolt: short log specially cut to length for the manufacture of shingles.

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Turn-of-the-last-century Sunday walkers pose on the 60-cm-wide catwalk along to the rushing Capilano flume, a water channel built to carry shingle bolts.

The Capilano flume extended from the Capilano Lumber Company’s mill on Seven Sisters Creek through the Capilano canyons, then joined another one to Burrard Inlet on Vancouver’s North Shore.

Construction of the Capilano flume began in 1905 and continued through 1906 in the trickier canyon stretches.

The Burrard Inlet Flume and Boom Co. built the flume for the Capilano Lumber Co.

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