It was a day, an experience and – perhaps above all – a view she’ll never forget.
When Yarmouth teenager Michelle Saulnier was asked what she would like as a graduation gift – something to help her celebrate finishing Grade 8 at Maple Grove Education Centre and moving on to Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School – the 14-year-old chose the CN Tower EdgeWalk in Toronto.
Her wish became reality on a Wednesday in early July, when she got to take part in what is billed as the CN Tower’s “most thrilling attraction.”
It’s also in the Guinness world-record book as the highest external walk on a building, so everyone who does it becomes, in a sense, part of something unique and historic.
Participants in the EdgeWalk are 356 metres above the ground. That’s 116 storeys. (Picture Yarmouth’s Rodd Grand Hotel, then multiply its height about 16-and-a-half times.)
Saulnier had seen people doing the EdgeWalk and thought it looked pretty cool, something she would like to try.
“I said, ‘I cannot wait to do that.’ I was really excited.”
Already the adventurous type – having ziplined, for example, in a number of countries – Saulnier said she never had second thoughts about doing the EdgeWalk.
Video footage of her participation shows her and five other people, along with a guide, on the 1.5-metre-wide ledge that surrounds the tower. It was a clear day, the view breathtaking.
“I can’t even explain how beautiful it was,” she said. “That was the greatest thing I ever did ... amazing.”
To see the video, click here
Participants get to walk all around the tower. They also have a chance to go to the edge of the ledge, leaning backwards or forwards, a protective support system keeping them safely in place.
Saulnier hopes her participation will inspire others.
“I want to show people they can do this,” she said. “They can experience this beautiful moment.”
Participants in the EdgeWalk are attached to an overhead safety rail via a trolley and harness system. Their hands are free.
EdgeWalk participants must be at least 13 years old, making Saulnier one of the youngest to do it.
Safety precautions include checking people to see if they have consumed alcohol or narcotics.
Eyeglasses are the only allowable personal article – other than a person’s clothes – for Edgewalk participants, who are given a special walk suit to wear over their clothing.
The whole process – including getting instructions, putting their walk suit on and actually doing the walk – lasts about an hour-and-a-half. (The outdoor walk portion lasts 30 minutes or so.)
Shawn Saulnier, Michelle’s father – who was watching his daughter on a monitor in the restaurant area just below her during her EdgeWalk – said he was proud of her.
He admittedly was surprised when she first said she wanted to do it.
“We are different,” Michelle said, referring to her generation. “We are the 21st-century girls ... I love doing adventure.”
Facts and figures:
• The CN Tower EdgeWalk opened to the public in 2011 and that same year was recognized by Guinness World Records as the highest external walk on a building.
• The EdgeWalk is 356 metres high, 1.5 metres wide and 150 metres long.
• The CN Tower itself opened in 1976 and, to the top of the antenna spire at the tower’s peak, is 553 metres high.