SKYWALK HISTORY & FUTURE
Beginning as a rooftop observation deck in 1954.
The “Lancaster – Saint John Tourist Centre” opened on August 16th, 1954 with much celebration. The project was a joint effort between the town of Lancaster and the city of Saint John whom united in 1967.
The facility was proudly introduced as “ultra-modern” and featured inclined glass windows and a rooftop observation deck. The entire roof is made of wooden boards placed on edge and fastened together to form a “milled deck”. Milled deck roofs are famous for their strength. That roof is supported by massive steel beams, some of which can be seen in the gift shop area. Those beams are fastened to steel columns anchored to a monolithic concrete and steel foundation supported by bedrock.
Rooftop access was originally provided via a staircase entrance at the outside wall near the fireplace. Walking a staircase located beyond the edge of a 110′ rock face would have been a scary experience in itself, even in 1954 !
In 1972 the “Chandelier Room” was added to the restaurant and a rooftop theatre built. The Chandelier Room is an octagon shaped room featuring magnificent wooden arches built to support the rooftop deck.
Since 1957 two previous restaurateurs (George Maniatis 1957-1992 and Theodore Faltsetas “Saki” 1993-2011) provided excellent food and hospitality … proudly representing Saint John … the site grew in popularity eventually becoming known as “Eastern Canada’s Greatest Tourist Attraction”. Advertisements declared the rapids “Illuminated at Night”.
In the last decade municipal priorities changed and the site went into disrepair. Then in 2015, Max Kotlowski, a native born “Saint Johner” who gleaned knowledge from travels away from home, started a complete renovation of the facility. The old theatre was replaced with a new larger theatre, the rooftop deck space was expanded and the observation deck was extended off the building with a stainless steel and glass cantilever platform.
An entirely electric 21 person elevator was added to make the rooftop easily accessible by all.
Future ideas include adding a geodesic dome with a special “virtual reality” film inside teaching about life in the land and waters of the Bay of Fundy. Also “CLIFFWALK”, a series of stairs and terraces hugging the cliff face to the waters below.