Living on the edge at the CN Tower

Richard Branson in red jumpsuit about to abseil down the Canada CN Tower
Image from the CN Tower Edge Walk
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 12 June 2019

I’ve always enjoyed the rush of adrenaline, and I’ve never been afraid of heights – a few trips around the world in a hot air balloon probably helped with that. Even as a child I would dream of flying, and I still have dreams where I’m spreading my wings to this day. So when the team told me how we were going to dangle off the side of the CN Tower, it sounded like an Edge Walk in the park to me. Then I got out there, wind blowing in my face and eyes looking at the 1168ft drop, and didn’t feel so confident…

It was the finale of a fantastic trip to Toronto, where I’d been fortunate to watch the Raptors scintillating play-offs game against the Warriors, introduce Virgin Voyages’ new destinations and Captain Wendy Williams, as well as catch up with the wonderful teams at Virgin Radio Canada and Virgin Mobile Canada. Before heading to the tower, I dropped in on Virgin Mobile and congratulated them on winning a prestigious best customer service award three years in a row. From their enthusiasm and team spirit, I’m not surprised – if you look after your people, they will look after your customers.

Richard Branson and Virgin Radio team completing the CN Tower Edge Walk in Canada 2019
Image from the CN Tower Edge Walk

But, hang on: shouldn’t a business look after its founder? And don’t I always advise people to keep their feet on the ground? Instead I found myself being strapped into a special outfit ready to brave the tallest tower in North America. Tom McAlpin, Virgin Voyages CEO (by the way, have you seen his Instagram?!), Captain Wendy, plus Nick Fox and Helen Clarke from Virgin Management, joined the fun. And a special mention to Virgin Radio DJ Jax, who was clearly petrified of heights but good enough to give it a go.

From the way she edged out onto the platform, I could see how scared she was. My heart was certainly pumping as I reminded myself of my own advice for handling heights. One of my tips is also the name of the documentary about my ballooning adventures: Don’t Look Down! 

I told Jax that if you were two floors up and fell, you’d be dead. What difference does it make if you’re 116 floors up?! Ok, that probably didn’t help her. But I reassured her, kept her talking, and she did a sterling job as we settled down to one of the more memorable interviews of my life, trying to answer Jax’s questions while we hung in mid-air.

It was a brilliant way to cap a superb few days in Canada, a country that has long been a beloved part of the Virgin family. A big thank you to our guide Steven, who gave up a job in a bank to become a guide and has done almost 3000 edge walks! I’m looking forward to my next trip, when I’ll try to keep my feet on the ground for once.