July 21, 2018 7:39 pm
Updated: July 23, 2018 2:52 pm

Edmonton company makes furniture out of Cloverdale Footbridge, gives people ‘a piece of history’

WATCH ABOVE: A local wood reclaiming company is transforming a piece of Edmonton history into pieces of furniture. The Cloverdale Footbridge was taken down two years ago. But as Julia Wong reports, Urban Timber is ensuring that that piece of Edmonton's past isn't forgotten.

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An Edmonton business is transforming pieces of the former Cloverdale Footbridge into furniture, a move the owners hope will help preserve the memory of the popular footbridge.

All the planks of the bridge, which was torn down to make way for the new Valley Line LRT, are now in the hands of Urban Timber, a family-run wood reclaiming company.

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READ MORE: Bombardier says it has been awarded part of Edmonton’s Valley Line LRT project

“I know that it’s a very emotional bridge and a lot of people in the community have an attachment to it,” said owner Darren Cunningham, adding he has fond memories of the footbridge and was emotional when it was taken down.

“We have a lot of wood that’s come from all over the province, all over the country, but this was by far the biggest emotional attachment we’ve seen. Our main priority in this project is to get the wood back in the hands of the people of Cloverdale.”

Protesters expressed displeasure over the footbridge being torn down at the official ground-breaking of the Valley Line LRT in April 2016. In Aug. 2016, a judge denied an injunction filed by a group trying to save the pedestrian bridge. Work on removing the bridge started in Dec. 2016.

Cunningham said the company is recycling the bridge planks and turning them into different pieces of furniture, like dining tables and coffee tables. The planks, which are 16 feet long, 10 inches wide and three-and-a-half inches thick, first have to be de-nailed then milled before they’re used to build the furniture.

All the bridge planks were given to Urban Timber to be reclaimed and recycled.

Julia Wong/Global News

“We hate seeing our forests being depleted. We like to know that our community buildings and dwellings, even though some of them have to be removed, can stay within our community,” he said.

“I hope [people] get comfort from seeing that piece of furniture in their home everyday and knowing they still have a piece of history.”

Co-owner Leanne Wlock said the company’s slogan is “Bring the story home.”

“We’ve taken the Cloverdale Bridge, something so sensitive to the community and essentially it’s sad, but now we can give it new life,” she said. “I hope that brings happiness and passion to other communities.”

The business recently finished an order of tables for Sea Change Brewing Company; the high-top and picnic tables and benches are custom-finished, and Wlock said the “imperfections” of the planks can be seen, such as its natural cracking and the nail holes.

LISTEN BELOW: Darren Cunningham speaks with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen

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A small label adorns each table identifying it as a creation from the footbridge. The label reads, “These tables were handcrafted using planks from the historic Cloverdale Footbridge.”

Each piece of furniture made from the footbridge will have a label like the one seen above.

Julia Wong/Global News

Brewery founder Ian McIntosh, who has memories of crossing the bridge to go to Folk Fest, said having reclaimed pieces of the bridge at the store was a way to connect with customers.

“We thought this was such an incredible way of doing that. If you’re sitting at the bar, having a pint, it’s a good conversation starter. I think a lot of people do connect and did connect to the Cloverdale Bridge,” he said.

McIntosh said it is unique to have a piece of Edmonton history in his store.

“It’s cool to have my hands on these tables and know how many people have walked across them. There’s a lot of stories in this type of stuff,” he said.

READ MORE: Is Edmonton’s Valley Line LRT designed with growth in mind?

Construction of the new LRT bridge, which will allow for pedestrian traffic, is expected to be completed next year; the Valley Line LRT is expected to start operating in Dec. 2020.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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