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.”

Just Posted

Walk to end abuse for those who can’t

SOWINS’s Debbie Scarborough points to the lethal potential in intimate partner abuse

Evacuation orders lifted around Osoyoos Lake

An evacuation order lifted for 15 properties around lake

Flooding complicates summer fun, health authority warns

Avoid fast-flowing water such as creeks and rivers.

Record Okanagan cherry crop anticipated

BC Tree Fruit growers expecting crop of 12 million pounds due to ideal conditions

Oliver Woofstock to raise money for guide dogs

Visit Oliver Lions Park this Sunday for the Woofstock Pet Valu Walk for Guide Dogs

What’s happening

Find out what is happening around the valley this sunshine-filled May weekend

Unusually nasty odour repulses Chase residents

Village staff trying to get bacteria working in lagoons at sewage treatment plant

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Run for beer along Penticton’s Ale Trail

The second annual Penticton Beer Run takes place on June 2

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

Most Read