Lumber from demolished Cloverdale Footbridge reclaimed by furniture company

The beloved Cloverdale Footbridge may be gone, but parts of it will live on in Edmonton homes.

'We like to preserve our history. It's part of the passion of our business'

The Cloverdale Footbridge before it was demolished to make way for LRT construction. (Alanna Kyee/Instagram)

The beloved Cloverdale Footbridge may be gone, but parts of it will live on in Edmonton homes.

Spans of spruce, fir and hemlock salvaged from the demolished bridge are being transformed into furniture by Urban Timber Reclaimed Wood Co., a family-run business based in Edmonton.

The lumber will be transformed into coffee tables, dining room tables and smaller pieces like mirrors and picture frames.

Reclaiming the wood will allow people to bring home a piece of the city's past, said Darren Cunningham, the company's co-owner.

"We like to preserve our history," Cunningham said in an interview Tuesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "It's part of the passion of our business."

Passionate connection

Despite impassioned efforts to save the Cloverdale Footbridge, the popular pedestrian crossing was removed from Edmonton's river valley two years ago to make way for LRT construction.

Edmontonians still feel a strong connection to the bridge, Cunningham said.

He's received dozens of messages from prospective customers, who reminisce about everything from childhood bike rides across the bridge to river valley wedding ceremonies.

Cunningham has worked on dozens of projects using wood reclaimed from historic buildings — including planks salvaged from decommissioned freight trailers and old breweries — but has never seen a reaction like this. 

The bridge carries a lot of memories for people, he said. 

I don't think any Edmontonian wanted that bridge to go down.- Darren Cunningham

"In the eight years that I have been doing this, I have never seen an emotional connection as much as we have with the Cloverdale Bridge," Cunningham said.

"I don't think any Edmontonian wanted that bridge to go down."

Officials with the city and the company hired to demolish the bridge were keen to keep the lumber out of the landfill, Cunningham said, offering it to Urban Timber last year.

All 10 lifts of the 16-foot spans would be sent the company's manufacturing yard for free, as long as Cunningham was willing to cover the transportation costs — and take the entire haul, sight unseen.

"They came back to us and said, 'In order for this project to be a success, we need to you take every piece,' " Cunningham recalled. "We didn't get to grab the best 10 pieces. We had to take it all."

The lumber was mostly softwood and in rough shape, Cunningham said. "Thousands and thousands" of nails had to be removed from the timbers before they could be sent for milling.

One of the first pieces created from the reclaimed lumber is a set of tables now on display in the tasting room at Sea Change Co., a newly-opened brewery in south Edmonton.

Pleased with its first products, Urban Timber has started taking commissions from the wider public.

"We've got some pretty talented guys that work for us. We can basically turn the wood into anything," Cunningham said.

"It is a ton of work but we certainly think it's worth it."