Canadian tightrope walker Jay Cochrane died Wednesday in Niagara Falls, at the age of 69.
Cochrane‘s philosophy of, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” sums up his life. “Jimmy” Cochrane was born in Saint John, N.B., in May 1944, but was raised in Sudbury.
At the age of 14 he ran away from home to join the circus which he was performing at the CNE in Toronto much against his parents’ wishes.
He referred to himself as the “Prince of the Air” due to his love of skywalking. His fervour to engage in this unusual line of work was really evident after a near-fatal fall in 1965 in Toronto. He was paralyzed for four years, but returned to his walks after his recovery amazing his doctors who had said he would never walk again. He has set world and Guinness records in many parts of the world.
In Shanghai, he set a world record for a night-time walk. He has successfully walked across the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and has crossed Disney’s Epcott Center. In 1995, his high-wire stretched a half mile at 1,350 feet above the Yangtze River in China, a walk which took him 53 minutes. That made him an iconic figure in China to the point that a stamp was struck with his image and a school now bears his name. He lived on a high wire in Puerto Rico for 21 days.
Some people might remember a few years ago, Cochrane returned to Sudbury and walked a tightrope from Sudbury Arena across Brady St. to Tom Davies Square.
Cochrane has done much charity work for sick and disadvantaged children worldwide. He hopes his feats will inspire them to triumph over their challenges.
For the last couple of summers, Cochrane has been performing daily skywalks across from the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls.