Calgary Tower turns 40

You couldn’t pay most people to stand on a ledge 160 metres above the ground to clean the outside of the Calgary Tower’s windows. But Allan Zemp said he’d have done it for free.

CALGARY — You couldn’t pay most people to stand on a ledge 160 metres above the ground to clean the outside of the Calgary Tower’s windows. But Allan Zemp said he’d have done it for free.

If not for his age, the 70-year-old said he wouldn’t have retired 1 1/2 years ago from his job cleaning Calgary’s iconic symbol since it opened in 1968.

“I’d have done it for nothing,” Allan said about the job he held for 38 years.

“I just loved to do it.”

Today, Allan returns to the top of the tower, which opened June 30, 1968, to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

He said it seems like only yesterday he first climbed into the wobbling swing stage to begin his lifelong passion of polishing the exterior of the glass windows.

Allan had been running ABC Window Cleaners for eight years when he was offered the contract to keep the Calgary Tower sparkling.

He said he’d long overcome any fear of heights.

“You hadn’t better be afraid of heights if you’re going to go up there and do that,” said Allan. “Even on the calmest day, it’s windy.”

The outside of the windows, including the glass floor, are polished six times a year and it takes a two-man team about 12 hours.

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