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

Tyler Dozzi breaks national record, ‘running like a madman’

Terrace runner sets new time in Boston in his last U20 race

Most intervenor requests in crucial natural gas pipeline case rejected

At stake is whether gas pipeline to LNG Canada plant should fall under federal jurisdiction

VIDEO: RCMP stop traffic with candy canes to remind drivers not to drink and drive

Police want to prevent any bad choices from being made this holiday season

Smithers council reverses CT scan vote

Council unanimously waives all off-site works for hospital renovation.

To get to the other side

Access Smithers, Seniors’ Advocate, and Smithers mayor say crosswalk lights to short.

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wins party no-confidence vote, but troubles remain

May won the vote of 317 Conservative legislators with a 200-117 tally

B.C. trustee’s anti-LGBTQ comments got him barred from schools

Barry Neufeld calls vote to leave him off liaison list ‘workplace discrimination’

Most Read