WWF-Canada’s CN Tower Climb for Nature comeback sees nearly 5,000 people raise $1.36 million

CN Tower Climb

TORONTO, April 16, 2023 – Nearly 5,000 people made the challenging journey up the CN Tower’s 1,776 steps this weekend as part of World Wildlife Fund-Canada’s annual CN Tower Climb for Nature fundraiser. Together they raised an incredible $1.36 million for conservation efforts that will help protect and restore nature, reverse wildlife loss and fight climate change.

“After a three-year hiatus, we weren’t really sure if people would still come out. But let me tell you, they did in spades. You could just feel how excited people were to be back and climb those 1,776 steps,” says Megan Leslie, WWF-Canada president and CEO, who also climbed the iconic tower alongside supporters today. “Every step they took, and every dollar raised, will support nature and wildlife in Canada.”

Also among those who climbed the tower’s 144 flights of stairs were TV host and WWF-Canada board member Melissa Grelo, reality TV star Blake Moynes (The Bachelorette), world renowned tower racer Shaun Stephens-Whale, and family members of Julian Backhouse, who has climbed it six times, despite a debilitating medical condition.

Blake Moynes (back, left of panda) and his team © Justin Kielly

Shaun Stephens-Whale clocks fastest time

The average finish time was around 30 minutes, with the most competitive climbers racing up the steps during Sunday morning’s Elite Climb Challenge.

The fastest climbers in their categories were Shaun Stephens-Whale, at 10 minutes and 31 seconds (he holds the record for WWF-Canada’s fastest ever climb at 9 minutes and 54.9 seconds, set in 2017) and Lexie Ward at 13 minutes and 51 seconds.

The inaugural Julian Backhouse Award

Liisa Ladouceur, Julian Backhouse and their teams pose with the Julian Backhouse Award certificate.
Liisa Ladouceur, Julian Backhouse and their teams celebrate together © Justin Kielly

Mississauga resident Julian Backhouse has Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects his physical strength and coordination. Although he uses a wheelchair most of the time, Julian has scaled the CN Tower for WWF-Canada six times, raising more than $14,000 for wildlife conservation.

Now facing cancer and in hospice care, Backhouse attended the event on Saturday to cheer on family members who came from across the country to honour his legacy. He also handed out the eponymous Julian Backhouse Award, given to a climber who has made an extraordinary effort to have a positive impact on nature and others; writer Liisa Ladouceur was the recipient.

Yesterday, Ladouceur climbed the CN Tower for the fifth time with her team — the first since recovering from cancer.

“Being able to climb 144 flights is proof that there’s something on the other side of chemotherapy and that, for myself and many other people, it gets better,” she says. “When [WWF] told me about Julian, I was obviously very inspired that someone with a physical challenge would take it head on and not let that stop them from achieving their goals. There were many times in the stairwell that I thought of him, and if he can do it, then I can finish.”

“It is surreal to get an award because I don’t consider myself an extraordinary person. I don’t do the climb for the time, I’ve never set a record time at the CN Tower Climb, but it meant something to me that the award is recognizing that I do this as part of a team.”

Footage, photos and interviews can be found here.

About WWF’s CN Tower Climb for Nature

WWF-Canada’s most significant fundraising event, the CN Tower Climb for Nature raises more than $1 million to protect habitats and species across Canada and around the world. Since WWF-Canada held its first climb in 1991, more than 135,000 people have stepped up for wildlife and helped deliver big conservation results. For more information, visit wwf.ca/cntower

About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada is committed to equitable and effective conservation actions that restore nature, reverse wildlife loss and fight climate change. We draw on scientific analysis and Indigenous guidance to ensure all our efforts connect to a single goal: a future where wildlife, nature and people thrive. For more information visit wwf.ca.

For further information 
Emily Vandermeer, communications specialist
[email protected], 519-616-1556