Living—and working—on the cutting edge of Toronto's tourism industry.
Since Jenny “Puddin'” Pullon arrived in Canada from Yorkshire, England, she’s been working her way up—way up—in the local hospitality and tourism industry. With previous experience as a dance teacher, a cruise ship entertainer, and a CN Tower staffer, Pullon now makes a living dangling herself and others from the top of the CN Tower.
EdgeWalk, billed as “Toronto’s tallest urban adventure,” first opened four years ago and has been a popular attraction for tourists and locals ever since. Guides accompany groups of six heavily strapped-in guests to an outside platform of the CN Tower, where they can peer down into the Rogers Centre, gaze out over Lake Ontario, and even lean over the downtown core. Pullon says that she’s transitioning from the entertainment world into tourism. “When I moved to Toronto, it only seemed natural to apply to work at the CN Tower, and in my job I get to use my skills from both of my backgrounds.”
Our conversation with Pullon—about her lack of fear, the importance safety training, and what happens on the edge when it rains—is below.
Okay, first things first: your job seems really scary! So many people are afraid of heights (including me). What is it like doing a job that a good percentage of the population would just flat-out refuse to do?
I think it’s really important to find a job that makes you happy, even if that means you’re doing something a little different than most. I’ve definitely got a healthy respect for heights but I think that’s necessary for my job. It means that I won’t take risks, I won’t get complacent and I’ll keep the guests safe too. I really love my job. I’ve been with EdgeWalk since we first opened and I’ve seen it evolve into something really great for Toronto.
Tell me about a typical EdgeWalk. How long does it last? What do you do out there? How many people do you guide? What do you do in inclement weather?
EdgeWalk is a thrilling urban adventure that takes groups of six people around the roof of the CN Tower’s restaurant at 356 metres above the ground. We include your gear up and safety checks within the 90 minutes and 25 to 30 minutes of that time is outside on the EdgeWalk. You are harnessed and tethered to a secure railing system as guides encourage you through various activities including leaning over the edge hands-free. We encourage our guests to get their toes over Toronto, lean backwards and even lean forwards over the edge! You get the opportunity to try these activities more than once so that you can get really comfortable and capture that perfect photo for your memories. Not only that but you’ll get a full tour of the city which makes it great for visitors and gives an awesome view of Toronto for locals. It’s always fun to try and spot where you live from the top.
We actually hold a Guinness World Record as the highest external walk of this kind in the world! The experience goes rain or shine, the only weather extremes that will stop us are lightning and high winds. We have jackets, hats and gloves on site for inclement weather so we’re good to go anytime. We’re also excited this year because we’re now offering wheelchair accessible EdgeWalks too.
What’s the training like? I assume there have to be hundreds of safety protocols in place before you even step out onto the ledge.
We take safety extremely seriously. We need to make sure that the guests, the staff and the equipment is safe at all times. Every piece of equipment is checked every single day and all guests are checked for prohibited items before they are geared up. Also, before we let anyone out on the Edge, their harness will be checked at least four times by the team. We’re really proud of the steps that we take to ensure that everyone is safe. A lot of people, especially those who might be nervous, find comfort in the fact that we are constantly checking and double-checking all safety features of the EdgeWalk. It’s important that everyone who works in the team, even those who don’t go on the outside, understand that safety is our number one priority. We really pride ourselves in our work at EdgeWalk and while safety always remains high, we also have fun along the way.
What do you do if someone panics? How do you balance the rest of group with the person who’s uncomfortable?
We’re all trained to put people at ease as much as possible. We would never force someone to stay outside if they’re really nervous, especially to the point of panic. However we will do our very best to encourage someone to stick with it, and sometimes the other people in the group can help out with that. When you get the first person leaning the rest of the group will usually join in too. We can also cater the walk to make sure that each person leaves happy because everyone has a different comfort level. If you don’t want to lean, you don’t have to. If you don’t want to let go of the rope, you don’t have to. My best advice for someone is to just try, if you give up straight away you’ll regret it. Like I said before, we are 100 per cent safe and proud of it, you just have to remind people of that. I was nervous the first time I did EdgeWalk and that’s completely normal but once you’ve done your first lean out and you trust the system the rest of the walk becomes a lot easier!
As a guide, what’s the best part of the EdgeWalk experience for you?
I get to experience something new every day. EdgeWalk is a real bucket list experience and people come from all over the world to try it. I’ve been up there thousands of times but I get to experience it for the first time through the guest’s eyes. I’ve met so many interesting people, all participating for very different reasons. We help people celebrate milestones such as birthdays, engagements and even weddings. I’m very lucky to have such a unique, different job.