Peter Christenson standing by one of his staircases.

Carpenter builds ‘stairway to heaven’

Proof that art and creativity can come from just about anything, whether it's a chord or a hammer.

Sooke resident Peter Christenson always liked to work with his hands, giving in to his skills as a carpenter, but there was nothing in the middle to fill in between his job and his desire to play music.

Around 16 years ago, he finally found something that would bring the two worlds together: building staircases that become abstract pieces of landscape art on the side of a cliff, which later became known as Shoreline Design.

It’s one of the few jobs in the world that you start at the top and make your way down to the bottom, literally.

But while he doesn’t mind being vertical for most of the day, climbing mountains isn’t exactly what he does to relax.

“I’ll build you a staircase, but I’d much rather be in the studio playing music during my down time,” he said. In a sense, building the stairs is one dream that helps feed his other passion for music.

Christenson hopes to get more involved in the local music scene as well, considering he’s played nearly a dozen type of music instruments since he was a teenager.

And regardless if he’s holding a guitar or wood chisel, he’s managed to set himself apart as a craftsman.

It wasn’t without inspiration though.

Having started as a dock builder in Georgian Bay and Muskokas in Ontario, Christenson was first inspired by the idea when he was on a ferry heading over to Pender Island. He looked at the side of the Island, and thought, “Ah, what if I could do that?”

Fortunately, the niche caught on, as not many carpenters like hanging from a rope over a cliff to build a zigzag of stairs all the way to the bottom.

He’s also a Capricorn, which, given his ability to hang from sheer cliffs, has an ironic connection to the sign’s symbol, the mountain goat.

As he grew his business, he soon realized that it really took a mountain goat spirit to build such projects off of vertical drops straight down, even some that hang well over the edge.

“After the third guy called for a job with me, I asked him, what’s your sign? He said, Capricorn – I thought, come on in, give it a shot,” Christenson laughed.

There’s no room for mistakes either, like one staircase he built on Pender Island that hung over a sheer 76-metre drop.

“You wouldn’t want to forget your sandwich.”

On average, he builds a staircase on a 12- to 15-metre bank in around 12 days, with an incline comfortable enough to accommodate anyone from a two year old to a 92 year old.

He also takes a more traditional way of building the staircase, using galvanized pipes deep into the rock as the foundation instead of concrete and rebar.

In the end, it’s all about doing something you like, Christenson pointed out, being living proof that art and creativity can come from just about anything, whether it’s a chord or a hammer.

 

Just Posted

Province delivers notice of unauthorized occupation to Saanich tent city Camp Namegans

A Ministry of Transportation liaison to Camp Namegans delivered a “notice of… Continue reading

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

LETTERS: It’s time to stop looking for excuses

Re: Proposed fishing restrictions will be devastating: officials I understand how those… Continue reading

UPDATE: Woman hit by car in parking lot 93 years old

Driver of sedan backs into older adult walking through lot

Delivery truck downs power lines in Sidney

A tractor trailer delivering eggs clipped a low-hanging wire on Second St.… Continue reading

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Special forces unit to monitor Hells Angels ride on Vancouver Island

Enforcement unit says motorcycle club to hold 35th anniversary ride in Nanaimo

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Saanich Police investigate store robbery

Store video captures image of suspect

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read