Athletes from every province and territory in Canada are seen during the closing ceremonies at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George

‘Once in a lifetime’ Canada Games come to a close

'Once in a lifetime' Canada Games come to a close after 17 days of competition

By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – The Canada Games are viewed by many as a way to bring the country closer together.

Ask one of the young athletes who travelled to this city in northern British Columbia and they will probably tell you it was mission accomplished.

The multi-sport event wrapped up Sunday night with the closing ceremony, signalling the end of a 17-day run that included 2,400 competitors from all 10 provinces and three territories.

“Everything was just a blast here,” said Alberta men’s hockey captain James Hamblin. “Meeting all the different people from around Canada, that was just spectacular. This only comes once in a lifetime and I think we really cherish that.”

Established in 1967 to help celebrate Canada’s centennial and promote unity, the Games feature athletes aged 12 to 35 and alternate every two years between summer and winter editions.

“It’s really cool to represent your province and be with the best athletes in my sport in Canada,” said Quebec snowboarder Oceane Fillion. “It’s really nice. We met people from other parts of the country and I can practice my English.”

A number of elite Canadian athletes have competed at past Games, and fans here in all likelihood witnessed at least a couple future household names.

“It’s almost like a mini Olympics,” said B.C. hockey player Justin Almeida. “It has that kind of feel. It prepares you for bigger and better things. Hopefully one day I’ll be there. The experience is awesome.”

The event included years of planning by this city of some 90,000 people, and Games CEO Stuart Ballantyne said hosting has helped boost the psyche of the entire region.

“Lots of people didn’t think they could do it. They thought that they had bitten off a lot more than they could chew,” he said. “In the end you don’t eat it all at once. You take a little bit at a time.

“There’s a definite elevation in the confidence of the city that they can do something. They’re proud to have had their city talked about across the nation. This is what the magic of the Canada Games is all about.”

It was also about performances, and there were many impressive ones. Quebec finished atop the overall medal standings with 141 (62 gold, 39 silver, 40 bronze), followed by Ontario’s 112 (47 gold, 40 silver and 25 bronze) and B.C.’s 88 (22 gold, 33 silver, 33 bronze).

There was also a camaraderie in the athletes’ village and an energy at the outdoor cultural events that many competitors experienced for the first time.

“It’s so incredible,” said Ontario women’s curling skip Megan Smith. “You have all these different sports and you have everyone cheering you on. You’re part of a bigger team. It’s something I’ve never experienced before.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Midway mill shutdown expected to last 8 to 10 weeks

Vaagen Fibre Canada cites low inventory, road restrictions as reason for shut down

Castlegar march ensures missing, murdered aboriginal women not forgotten

About 60 people took part in the Valentine’s day memorial

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Castlegar ski legend fêted in Switzerland

Felix Belczyk invited to 90th anniversary celebrations of international ski event

Timberwolves seek fresh lacrosse recruits

New season of the ‘fastest game on two feet’ begins this spring

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read