History and Future
Built at the site of an 1852 suspension bridge
The facility is built upon the original granite block foundations of the bridge towers ! All traffic east and west once passed through the 22′ space.
The “Lancaster – Saint John Tourist Center” 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 !
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 in the form of a stainless steel and glass cantilever platform.
An all-electric 21 person elevator was added to make the rooftop easily accessible by all.
For 2020 the Skywalk attraction will welcome the addition of “Cliff’s Edge Terrace” which will feature glass floor panels extending over the cliff’s edge, provide a new perspective of the Reversing Falls Rapids and outdoor dining.
Future ideas include adding “CLIFFWALK”, a series of stairs and terraces hugging the cliff face to the waters below and a geodesic dome showing a “virtual reality” film teaching about life on the land and in the water of the Bay of Fundy.