Over the past number of decades in all areas of Western Canada there has been a remarkable hosting of sports competitions of all kinds, held under a wide variety of authorities, but all, in their own individual sport rights, worthy, effective and official.
These have been local and area competitions, regional and provincial games, some featuring many sports, some held in the winter season, some in the summer, and some staged indoors with others, outdoors. Some of the competitions had varied recognition and sanctions from national sport governing bodies, while others didn’t. Most of the competitions had age restrictions, scholastic or geographic restrictions of some kind. It was inevitable that people concerned closely with the development of athletes and sport, started to take a long critical look at what was going on in Western Canada.
This concern led one provincial government to engage in one-on-one talks with its sport federations, which led to larger group talks then formal meetings and conferences that viewed, reviewed and over viewed the total situation. The crunching conclusion – the existing sport competitions just were not developing athletes of national and international caliber and were not providing adequate outlets for greater recognition of many sports and athletes. That conclusion was not a criticism of the benefits of existing sports programs but recognition simply that athletes just were not progressing along the continuum to achieve national and international results.
The various provincial games of 1972 combined to form the idea of staging major multi-sport games in Western Canada, based on the highly demanding rules and regulations of international Games, which would attract the greatest number of Western Canadian athletes for open competition. By 1973, the final refined idea was a major program that would provide Western Canadian athletes with an opportunity to train for and participate in high standard competition as well as create an interest in some lesser-known sports on the part of younger athletes.
The Western Canada Summer Games were officially launched in Regina, Saskatchewan in August 1975, in a pre-Olympic Games year, along with the decision to hold the Games every four years, one year ahead of the Olympic Games, and using the same 23 summer sports disciplines.
In 1983, the Yukon and Northwest Territories applied for membership to the Games and debuted with a total of 23 athletes between the two territories.
Following the 1987 Games, a review of the Games was conducted and it was agreed that the purpose of the Western Canada Summer Games should be to provide developing athletes with an opportunity to compete in competitions that support provincial/territorial plans and which might lead to greater competitions at the national level (i.e. Canada Games, National Championships etc.).
The 1990 Western Canada Summer Games held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, saw provincial/territorial team sizes grow to in excess of 700 athletes and coaches participating in 31 sports with the focus shifting from the original pre Olympic showcase of the “Best in the West”, to a more broad approach that allowed each individual sport to determine an age group for their sport. This approach proved to be beyond the financial capacities of the provinces/territories to sustain, and the mix of categories was deemed difficult for hosts to market and for provinces/territories to rationalize their involvement.
At the 1995 Games in Abbotsford, B.C., team sizes were reduced to approximately 500 athletes and coaches participating in 23 sports, with many of them focusing on developmental age groups. During the Ministers meeting in 1995, direction was given to the Western Canada Games Council by the Ministers to further reduce the teams to a limit of 400 participants, and to determine a fit for the Games. Alberta and Yukon withdrew from the Western Canada Games following the 1995 Games due to lack of clear fit for the Games. The Northwest Territories increased the size of their team and brought a record 152 athletes to participate.
By the 1999 Games in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, team sizes had been reduced to approximately 400 and more sports were fitting into the model of developing athlete’s age eligible for the next Canada Games (especially in the case of Canada Summer Games team sports). For these reasons, Alberta agreed and was reinstated in the Games. The Yukon Territory was also welcomed back to the Games family.
In June 2003, Nunavut debuted as the third Territory to participate, and brought the total membership of the Western Canada Summer Games to 7 jurisdictions.
The current rationale for the Western Canada Summer Games is to bi-sect the Canada Summer Games cycle (the Technical Packages are aligned two years younger than the Canada Summer Games ages where possible) and provides an opportunity for top age-class athletes to test their athletic talent against the best in the west.
The following is a list of the Games hosted to-date:
|1995||Abbotsford, BRITISH COLUMBIA|
|1999||Prince Albert, SASKATCHEWAN|
|2003||Selkirk, Stonewall, Gimli, and Beausejour, MANITOBA|
|2007||Strathcona County, ALBERTA|
|2011||Kamloops, BRITISH cOLUMBIA|
The following hosting rotation has been approved by the Ministers:
|2015||Wood Buffalo, Alberta|