The CN Tower is an unmistakable landmark in the Toronto skyline. Standing at 1,815 feet tall, the tower held the Guinness Book of World Records’ title for the world’s tallest tower for 34 years.
Ten years ago, Domtar’s Andrew Tremblay — dressed in his black running shorts and a Domtar T-shirt — sized up up the tower’s 147 stories and 1,776 stairs before taking his first try at the CN Tower Climb for Nature, a fundraiser put on by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada to help ensure a healthy, thriving planet.
“I’m afraid of heights,” said Tremblay, who has participated in the CN Tower climb for the past 10 years. “But WWF is a good partner to Domtar, and the people at WWF are good people. I do it for the Earth, I do it for the fun, and I do it because it’s a great challenge.”
What do you do at Domtar?
I am what the company calls a sustainable business advisor. My role is to talk to customers, users and stakeholders about how using sustainably managed wood fiber is good for the environment, the economy and nature. I engage, educate, empower and enlighten. I also help every major Canadian bank with paper procurement. I take people on forest tours. I work with the organizations Domtar partners with. I’m the face of sustainability for Domtar in Canada. I tell people I get paid to walk in the woods.
How does someone find such a job?
I started at Domtar 19 years ago in sales. When the company became an early adopter of Forest Stewardship Council certification as a means to assure customers that its wood was responsibly sourced, company leaders realized they needed the salespeople to understand the topic. My boss came to me and said, “You’re into the outdoors; why don’t you get educated and get involved?” I did, and I love it so much. The most peaceful place is walking through the woods. I’m an outdoors nerd and have been since I was a kid.
How did you get involved in the CN Tower Climb for Nature?
Domtar and WWF have been working together for a long time, and we recently extended our agreement with WWF-Canada to support global conservation programs and protect important forest ecosystems. In 2007, two weeks before the CN Tower climb, I got a call from WWF asking if I’d like to do the climb with their team and the then-president of WWF-Canada. I’m the only outsider on the WWF corporate team. I raised $750 in donations. I didn’t train for the event, but I’m a runner, so I thought it’d work out. That first year I did the climb in 18 minutes and 3 seconds. For me, it’s the tortoise-and-the-hare thing. I’m the tortoise; I walk, I pace myself, and I never have sore legs the next day.
Do you train for the CN Tower climb?
I did not have time to train that first year. But in the years since, I’ve done weight training, interval training on a treadmill, elliptical and stair-climbing five days a week. I do hot yoga once a week because it helps with my breathing going up the stairs. Last year was my hardest year because I tore my rotator cuff; I did the climb in 26 minutes. That first year was pretty easy, but I was a lot younger. Now my knees are getting older.
Do you know the total amount of money you’ve raised for the CN Tower Climb for Nature?
I raise an average of $1,250 each year. I’ve personally given a total of $1,000. All in all, I’ve raised $15,385 in support of WWF-Canada’s work. Domtar also sends 2,500 sheets of paper to schools throughout Ontario. The cool thing is that local kids draw pictures for the event, and those drawings get posted on the walls all the way up the CN Tower stairwell to motivate the climbers. So Domtar’s products are actually seen by the thousands people who take part in the CN Tower climb each year.
Do you support other WWF-Canada initiatives?
I’ve participated in WWF-Canada’s Sweater Day, which is a fun way for people to learn the importance of saving energy by lowering your heat. If all Canadians lowered their thermostats by just two degrees Celsius this winter, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about four megatons. That’s equivalent to shutting down a 600-megawatt coal-fired power station or taking nearly 700,000 cars off the road. I’ve also joined WWF-Canada’s Earth Hour, which asks people to turn off as much power as they can at a specific time in conjunction with seven continents, more than 187 countries and 24 time zones. It’s a great global community event.
How do you hope to make a difference?
WWF-Canada has many great programs to help ensure that forests are well-managed, that the biodiversity within them is protected and that the Earth continues to thrive. The CN Tower climb is a tangible way to support the shared mission of Domtar and WWF-Canada to achieve these goals. It also does a great job of educating people about the importance of conservation and how nature helps us learn more about ourselves. Every dollar that you raise for WWF counts. It’s important to me that my children and my peers see that one person can make a difference, no matter how small it is.