An August to Remember

Brass bandEDITORIAL: Only a few short weeks ago, the region was all a-buzz with preparations for the Canada Summer Games 2013 for which Sherbrooke had been selected as official Host City. Preparations which had started well over a year ago were winding down or should I say gearing up to the official opening on August 12 of this important celebration of the nation’s athletes. Even “trial runs” had been completed to help iron out any confusion or problems that might possibly occur. As Lynn Blouin put it, “we have worked hard not only to come up with a series of events and activities that we feel will be of interest to everyone but also have made sure that there would always be a PLAN B.”

In an effort to promote the region as much as possible, the events of the Canada Summer Games 2013 were scheduled to take place not only in Sherbrooke facilities (University of Sherbrooke and CEGEP de Sherbrooke) but also those in Coaticook (baseball), Magog (swimming, cycling, triathlon and baseball), Deauville (sailing and rowing), Lennoxville Golf Club and Bishop’s University (basketball and soccer). The Bishop’s University FencingCampus, in Lennoxville, was designated as “The Athlete’s Village”, where there were activities planned to keep everyone involved and entertained such as a Recycling Fashion Show and Talent Show featuring the athletes themselves.

With events spread out within a 30-minute radius, it was imperative that the logistics and transportation service worked without exception. A fleet of busses had been signed up to ensure that the athletes got to their venues on time and were picked up and returned to the Athlete’s Village after daily events. There were also shuttle busses that ran the circuit throughout the day so that spectators and supporters could attend as many activities as possible. These same busses were also used to transport athletes and other spectators to and from numerous nightly cultural performances that had been arranged in the Sherbrooke area during the two-week period, something for everyone’s taste. Plans also included a fleet of courtesy cars for use by dignitaries and media personnel, all in an effort to keep the traffic level down to a minimum. This last system also eliminated thousands of drivers who might otherwise have had trouble moving from place to place.

Canada Summer Games 2013 was also the first Environmentally-Friendly and Health-conscious event of its sailing competitionkind. Everywhere you looked, you would see an efficiently designed system for composting, recycling and garbage disposal. Snacks and meals were carefully planned to be as nutritious and varied as possible. Fresh water service stations were everywhere. Information signs and easily recognizable volunteers were in abundance so it was rare that anyone had to wait long for an answer to any question.

More than 6,000 volunteers, aged 10 to 86 years of age, signed up to be part of this amazing and memorable event – all of whom followed a special course in preparation for their various tasks and to set standards that were important when greeting the thousands of visitors who would be attending the Games. One of the interesting aspects about these volunteers was that they not only came from the Townships region but also from various places all across Canada.

The Canada Games have played a central role in the promotion of sport and physical activity in our provinces and territories, since their origin in 1967. Presented every two years (alternating between Winter and Summer Games), in a different province or territory, the Games have united more than 100,000 athletes. Adding to this number are the 4,200 additional athletes who came to compete for honours in 20 disciplines in 18 different venues at the Canada Summer Games 2013 Sherbrooke. 

newfoundland labrador cheering sectionSherbrooke is the first city in Quebec to host the Canada Summer Games. The towns of Magog and Coaticook will also be hosting competitions. The entire Eastern Townships community rallied together to ensure the success of this major event, which also served to promote the region’s cultural institutions and tourist attractions.

Volunteers are at the heart of the organization and success of such an exceptional national event, one that would leave its mark on the history of the Eastern Townships. The Host City and Organizing Committee put everything in place to ensure that this experience is a memorable one from both an athletic and a human perspective. In addition to the sports facilities that will remain, community development is also an integral part of the legacy of the Canada Games. As Host City, Sherbrooke will be establishing a foundation to promote sports excellence among Eastern Townships’ athletes.

When we think of an event as large and historic as the Canada Summer Games, we easily recall the names of larger companies/supporters we have seen on billboards but I, personally, was struck by the large number of smaller companies/ groups who played an equally important role. Whether it was the individual volunteer, physical therapists sharing their expertise, chefs/staff in the dining hall or café, the young man who created boutiqueover 4,000 caricatures of the athletes the first week, the designated team of ‘bloggers’ who did such an excellent job to keep everyone well-informed, the company that designed and supplied the incredible pins that proved invaluable in launching social ties - “ice breakers” among athletes (trading and collecting these pins was definitely a must) or the joint committee that came up with the concept of such an incredible mural which is now a part of Sherbrooke’s history as well as that of the Canada Summer Games 2013. 

Organizers did an outstanding job of encouraging as many local companies as possible to participate in this major event, one that people will be talking about for many years to come.