A Look Through the Years of the Canada Games: From BC to Cape Breton

Showcase for Canadian Athletes

Pick your sport, winter or summer, and you will find many of the best Canadian athletes were participants in the Canada Games. You may have seen the future hall of fame basketball player, Steve Nash of the NBA, or the hockey great, Sydney Crosby of the NHL, compete in these games when they were young athletes. These Canada Games occur bi-annually in a selected sites across Canada and leave lasting benefits.

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“A Celebration of Youth, Sport, Culture and Community” is the objective of the Canada Games. and the slogan is “Unity through Sport.”

To reach this objective, there is an important combination of key people involved.

Over 100,000 athletes have participated since the founding of the Canada Games in 1967, with at least an equal total of 100,000 young people trying out for the games, as well as volunteers, coaches and other community members supporting the planning and logistics of the events.

The goal of the Canada Games Council is to strengthen sport in Canada, not just by encouraging young athletes but through the following other results and benefits:

  1. Developing a certification program for coaches and game officials
  2. Huge capital investment in the selected venue for the games (a Cape Breton example around cross country skiing is mentioned below)
  3. Lasting economic and social benefits for the host site (Prince Edward Island, the 2009 holder of Canada Summer Games estimates over $81 million in economic activity as a result of the games. Over a $3 million surplus is being used to support development of young athletes.

On Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, there is a small but lasting benefit of the Canada Winter Games held over twenty years ago. In 1987, in Cape Breton County and near the little village of Cape North, the Canada Winter Games were held. An important sport was Cross Country Skiing and they were being held at North Highlands Nordic, just off the Cabot Trail.

To groom the Trails up to Game standards, a multi-hundred thousand dollar investment was made by Canada Games for a German trail grooming machine for North Highlands Nordic (which is now also a community based cross country skiing club). Groomed for the competition and for pleasure are 14 km in trails used for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The machine is nicknamed the “piston bully”.

Until 2010, the “piston bully”, operated by local volunteers, kept the trails in shape for tourists and local skiers. In fact, the area develops very young athletes called “jack rabbits” and has ski clubs from all over Nova Scotia visiting for ski races and other events.

Some of these young skiers will, like others before them, compete at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I highly recommend North Highlands Nordic (Cross Country Ski Club) which is open to the public and I highly recommend the Canada Winter Games this year in Halifax.

Where ever you find and attend the Canada Games in the future, winter or summer, you are in for the privilege of seeing at first hand “Unity through Sport.” This investment helped to create and maintain a fine, volunteer based community ski area which I recommend for avid and beginner cross country skiers alike. And I recommend the Canada Winter Games this year in Halifax, where athletics encourages community and good sportsmanship by all.

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