More than 50 years later, the Canada Games and the CBC seem inextricably linked.
Don Goodwin, who played key roles in both parties, was the one who first organized the arrangement in 1969.
Now, as the 28th Canada Games begin in Niagara, Ont., Goodwin will be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Honor at the event on Friday.
Goodwin died in 2018. Widow Rosemary Goodwin said the recognition “meant the world” to her.
“Don was never one to care about recognition,” she said. “Whenever he did something, he made sure it was great. And finally it’s over. And he turned and said, “What next?”
The first Canada Games were held in 1967 to mark Canada’s centennial. But there was no guarantee the event, which pits athletes from across the country in interprovincial and interterritorial competition, would go ahead.
Goodwin, along with colleagues Hugh Noble and Finlay Macdonald, are committed to ensuring that the Canada Games remain the “jewel in the crown” of a new landscape for Canadian sport.
Key to that success was Goodwin, an on-air personality and one-time head of CBC Sports, who combined his work and his passion. He was a volunteer for the Canada Games.
“So now when he was talking to somebody in the sports community, in the facilities community, in the sponsorships, everything, he could lead with the fact that CBC covers all of that. And that just made all the difference. It gave him credibility,” Rosemary Goodwin recalled.
Those 1969 games were held in Halifax, which was a problem, especially when considering the travel of athletes from the west coast.
But Rosemary says there was never a problem Don couldn’t overcome.
“He was just very direct. This is where we are. This is where we need to go. We’re just going to move in that direction,” Rosemary said. “And if there was an obstacle, you never let the obstacle stop you. The only question was, do we go around it, under it, over it, or through it?’
Despite huge technological advances over the years, Rosemary said the 2022 Canada Games retain the vision and heartbeat first created by Don in the 1960s.
“It does get a bit frustrating and it gets a bit complicated. But that’s what I keep telling my volunteers here. … On opening day, when the first bus arrives and those kids get off that bus into our facility and hit the tennis courts, it will be a joyous thing. And that’s what we’re here for,” said Rosemary, who continues to participate in the event.
Don Goodwin’s love of sports didn’t stop at the Canada Games.
He was the deputy chef de mission for Team Canada at the 1972 Summer Olympics before taking the lead role at the 1976 Winter Games in Austria. That year, he directed CBC’s coverage of the Montreal Summer Olympics.
He also served as Rogers Cup master of ceremonies for 35 years before being inducted into the event’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
Also inducted into the Canada Games Hall of Honor are star athletes Steve Nash and Brian McKeever, their classmates Stacey Alastair and Michael Stranger and builder Tom Quinn.
Goodwin’s legacy in the growing Canadian sport is undeniable. Now he will add another achievement by entering the Canada Games Hall of Honour.
“I think Don would say, ‘If you put the blinders on, see clearly where you’re going, and just stay focused, you can achieve anything you set your mind to,'” Rosemary said.
“I think he is a shining light and a beacon for us to follow.”