Mississauga man climbed more than 10,000 steps for charity but now family members join CN Tower fundraiser

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Published April 12, 2023 at 1:07 pm

julian backhouse cn tower climb
Julian Backhouse climbed the CN Tower six times. WWF photos

A longtime Mississauga resident is passing the torch to family members after climbing more than 10,000 steps over six years in the annual CN Tower fundraiser for wildlife.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) CN Tower Climb for Nature returns this weekend and Mississauga’s Julian Backhouse plans to be there once again.

Backhouse has climbed the tower’s 1,776 steps six times (one time virtually) — raising more than $14,000 for wildlife conservation.

WWF Canada will be giving out an award in Backhouse’s name to a climber who has made an extraordinary effort to positively impact nature and people.

After a cancer diagnosis, Backhouse won’t be climbing this year and instead will cheer on family members.

Backhouse tells insauga.com he first heard about the climb through a tenant who rented a room in his home and decided it would be a good way to strengthen his muscles.

In his early 50s, Backhouse, now 70 years old, was diagnosed with Wilson’s Disease, a rare condition that causes Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

People with Wilson’s Disease can have problems with speech, swallowing, and physical coordination, along with uncontrolled movements or muscle stiffness. Backhouse has difficulty walking and uses a wheelchair to get around but found he can climb stairs. He says his long arms help propel him up.

“I didn’t have any trouble climbing stairs,” he says.

He trained six days a week on the stairs in his 11-storey Mississauga condo building.

On that first climb, Backhouse had no idea how long it would take — he imagined it could take a day.

“I thought I had to bring my lunch,” he says.

As it turns out, he completed that first climb in about an hour and beat that time in following years.

This year Backhouse is in palliative care in Toronto but he plans to come out to cheer on his family. He expects around 13 family members at the climb including his siblings, nieces, and nephews.

The annual event became a family gathering over the years. His sister Katie Klarer came out every year since the second year. She flies out from California to join Backhouse.

In 2018, his four grandchildren joined him on the climb.

“That was my proudest moment,” he says.

julian backhouse cn tower climb

Although he completed the climb as a physical challenge, he also supports the WWF.

“It’s a good cause.”

This is the first in-person CN Tower Climb in three years, and the need for WWF-Canada’s most significant fundraising event is greater than ever, according to a press release.

“Globally, wildlife populations have dropped 69 per cent on average since 1970,” the release notes.

And it’s not just tigers, pandas and other far away species — here in Canada, more than 800 species at risk of extinction.

WWF-Canada hopes to raise more than $1 million for conservation efforts in Canada aimed at restoring and protecting nature, fighting climate change and reversing wildlife loss.

For more information on the climb, visit the website here.

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