With its four distinct seasons, Canada is one of the best countries for those who enjoy watching or participating in sports. From soccer and beach volleyball in the summer to alpine skiing and ice hockey in the winter, there is no shortage of activities to get involved in. Consequently, it’s no surprise that Canada has produced some of the world’s most talented athletes. From coast to coast, in professional leagues around the world, and the Olympics since the 1900 edition, Canadians are very well-represented. 

Aspiring athletes and sports fanatics interested in some of Canada’s top talent may find interest in the Canada Games. Held once every two years, this multi-sport event alternates between the Canada Winter Games and the Canada Summer Games and has played a significant role in the development of Canadian athletes, many of whom have gone on to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Games also have a positive impact on host communities, providing a boost to the local economy and leaving a lasting legacy of sports infrastructure. So kick back and enjoy the thrill of the games — who knows, you may just be witnessing some of the future’s best athletes before they get to the big leagues!

Where it all Began – The History of the Canada Games

The first edition of the Canada Games occurred in 1967 in Quebec City, Quebec, though the idea for the event goes back many years. In 1924, Norton Crow, the then secretary of the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada, proposed the idea but unfortunately received little support. Resurfacing many times over the subsequent years, it wasn’t until 1962 that the idea of a national sporting event became a near reality. A Québec lawyer, André Marceau, took the concept and coordinated with other sports authorities in Québec to bring it to life. While the first Canada Games impressively featured 1,800 athletes from all provinces and territories competing in 12 sports, it has since grown significantly, with more than 5,000 athletes competing in over 20 sports!

The event was originally intended to promote national unity and to provide an opportunity for young Canadian athletes to compete at a high level. These intentions remain at the core, though the Games have also grown to encourage the development of exceptional local sports facilities, the training of young athletes to international standards, and to promote competition between the provinces and territories.

Primarily, the Canada Games are a unique opportunity to showcase young Canadian athletes and the organization and volunteers behind the event on a national stage. Having been hosted in cities like Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Brandon, Saguenay, Cape Breton, Whitehorse, Prince George, and more, it has become a platform to promote the culture and diversity of Canada and the host communities. Ready to celebrate history and local culture through sport? Stay tuned for future installments of the Canada Games near you or plan a road trip with family and friends to cheer on your home province or favorite athletes. 

Moments in Time – Fun Facts from Games of the Past

Over the years, the Canada Games have created some memorable moments. Some thrilling, while others significant to local host communities. Each moment has been etched into history to reminisce on today and in the future. 

Whether you want to look back on fond memories of the past or be inspired for what’s to come, here are a few memorable snippets from the Canada Games over time:

From Ottawa to Saskatoon…by snowmobile: The Canada Winter Games of 1971 were held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Believe it or not, the Games official flame was brought from the nation’s capital of Ottawa, Ontario, to Saskatoon by snowmobile. You heard correctly. The 2,500-mile trip was coordinated by Bombardier Ltd. and included around 300 snowmobiles driven by their owners to make up the entirety of the route.

Mount Blackstrap Mountain: Prairies and alpine skiing don’t mesh. Saskatoon, the host of the 1971 Canada Games, has no mountains, so to accommodate sports like alpine skiing, they created Mount Blackstrap Mountain. This man-made mountain, one of the only man-made mountains in the world, has a vertical drop of 100m and a run of about 350m. Greg Athans, an athlete for team British Columbia, famously won gold in the slalom event here. 

Teamwork makes the dream work: Held in Lethbridge, Alberta, the 1975 Canada Winter Games were spread across 12 communities. The local residents, and even the Canadian Army were involved in communications and coordinating the transport of athletes via 32 school busses and nearly 100 passenger vehicles. Talk about teamwork!

Local inspiration: Hosts always showcase unique aspects of their cities, from architecture to culture, it’s all part of the experience. For example, the Canada Games of 1981, held in Thunder Bay, Ontario, featured a tribute to the Great Spirit Nanabijou at the opening ceremony. Installments of games over the years have featured a bison, beaver, Newfoundland dog, and a moose as mascots, highlighting some of the predominant local wildlife.

A first: The 40th edition of the Canada Winter Games took place in Whitehorse, Yukon in 2007. It was the first time the games were held north of the 60th parallel, providing a significant level of exposure for Canada’s Territories.

Game On: Winter or Summer

Each edition of the Canada Games provides athletes and spectators with adrenaline-pumping excitement from start to finish. Waiting four years between the next Winter or Summer edition can be difficult, but it’s worth it! 

In the winter, Canada Games sports include curling, figure skating, hockey, fencing, swimming, and more. In the summer, sports include baseball, track and field, soccer, volleyball, and wrestling, among others. 

If you’ve been to an edition of the games in the past, you know it’s a great place to see up-and-coming athletes. Over time, athletes who participated in the Canada Games have made the jump into professional sports leagues around the world. The National Hockey League is a popular destination, with athletes like Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, and Bob Gainey having gone on to have remarkable careers. Other significant names include Steve Nash, Hayley Wickenheiser, Cindy Klassen, and Andre De Grasse. 

Canada Games athletes must be between the ages of 12 – 18 at the time of the competition and should have placed well in provincial qualifying tournaments to be considered for participation.

Looking Ahead – 2023 Canada Games in Prince Edward Island

From February 18 to March 5, 2023, Prince Edward Island will host the latest edition of the Canada Winter Games, featuring a range of sports and disciplines for athletes and spectators from across the country. The Games will include traditional winter sports such as snowboarding and biathlon, as well as new events like mixed doubles curling and karate. With 3,600 participants, 20 different sports, 26 disciplines, and 174 events, the 2023 Canada Winter Games is set to be the biggest event in the province’s history.

There’s no doubt that this edition of the Canada Games will be high on the list for those looking at Prince Edward Island events to attend. If you decide to grab tickets, consider staying a few days before or after to take in the unique and charming character of the province, including picturesque landscapes, delicious seafood, and a vibrant arts scene. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or just looking for a relaxing vacation, Prince Edward Island has something for everyone to enjoy.

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