Ted Woodley and the 356-metre Wish

CN Tower EdgeWalk is nothing for 90-year-old Tansley Woods resident

By Kristian Partington

Ted Woodley easily recalls the news clips in 1976 when a 10-ton Sikorsky helicopter carried the final piece of the 102-metre broadcasting tower to the peak of the CN Tower and a brave steel worker fixed it into place. It was the final act in a monumental feat of engineering, and anyone who’s spent any time in the Toronto area seems to have a connection to the iconic tower.   

Ted and two team members wearing jumpsuits leaning backward over the edge of the top of the CN tower
Ted, Jamie and Curtis comfortable at the top of the Toronto skyline.

Nearly 40 years after he watched those news stories, Ted had the opportunity to view the tower from a different perspective when he linked himself to a tether system at 356 meters above ground and circled the main pod of the tower during the CN Tower EdgeWalk. At 90 years old, this was a wish fulfilled – an exhilarating chance to grab hold of life and dance with her high above the bustle of the world below.

Actually, to hear Ted tell the story, it really wasn’t a big deal. Calm and cool, he had no problems conquering the walk.

“I’m not afraid of heights and when I saw other people doing it I thought, boy, I would sure like to do that,” Ted says. “It was just a desire in my heart because I knew I could do it, but I thought nope, it’s impossible for me to do it at my age.”

But for the team at Tansley Woods it seems anything is possible and within a few months of submitting his wish through the village’s Make a Wish Program, he was on the edge of the tower with assistant general manager Curtis Ferry and personal support worker Jamie Rigatto.

“I felt very relaxed,” Ted recalls. “I had no troubles looking straight down or looking away. We were a half hour on the walk and I did everything.”

Curtis was quite impressed with how calm Ted was. Jaime was conquering a fear of heights but for Ted, it was a walk in the park.

“He did it like it was nothing,” Curtis says. “He had no problem.”

For Curtis, the opportunity to share such a memorable experience with a resident is a great gift. Life is busy and it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day operations within the village, he says. An event like this is a reminder that life is just waiting for everyone, no matter their ability or age, to grab hold of it and go.

“It’s our mandate,” he says. “We want to provide life experiences . . . and with this, you’re out there and you can just fully engross yourself in the activity that that resident is doing and you can enjoy it with them rather than kind of sitting back and watching them enjoying it.”

Ted is the type of guy who likes to keep busy around the village; he helps deliver the mail, works in the general store and sits on the residents’ council. He’s active and in good shape, he says, and he “very much enjoyed” the chance to test his limits at the CN Tower.

“It’s been a thing I’d like to have done for years but thought it was an impossibility,” he says. “I’d tell people that if they have a wish, put it in, because it’s great to accomplish something that you’ve always wanted to do.”