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

Bill passes to make Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

Wally Webber elected to fourth term as Nuxalk Chief Councilor

Webber took the win with 174 votes out of a total of 389

Bella Coola expected to be hottest spot in B.C. today

Temperatures are predicted to rise to 18 C

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

IT’S OFFICIAL: Mt. Timothy sale complete

New owners looking toward year-round mountain resort facility

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

B.C. public insurance includes funding enforcement, driver licensing

Most Read