1981 Canada Summer Games in Thunder Bay

August 9 – 22, 1981
Thunder Bay, Ontario
The Canada Games are designed, in part, to promote athletes into legendary proportions... Canadian champions, international stars, Olympians. And so they did, in Thunder Bay, in the Canada Summer Games in 1981. These Games brought upon everything the organizers could have hoped for, including an assault on the record books. Nine records were set on the second day of track and field and yet another nine records were broken on the first full day of the swimming events. Amongst all the record breaking, Ontario managed to retain the flag with Quebec at their heels and Nova Scotia took home the centennial cup.
Over 7,000 Thunder Bay residents volunteered to work on the Games. Many giving hundreds of hours of their valuable time to help make the 1981 Games a success. Surveyed in 1982, the year after the Games, 86 percent indicated that the satisfaction they received from being part of the Games more than compensated for the effort expended. It is safe to say that the volunteer legacy left behind by the 1981 Games was significant and has helped the community to grow.
Infrastructure Improvements
To enhance the quality of life for Thunder Bay residents a variety of infrastructure improvements were left behind. A grand new pool, a diving tower, a gymnasium squash and tennis courts, and an all-weather track were some of the amenities left behind by the 1981 Canada Games.
On the second day of track and field nine records were set, and in one race, the men’s 1,500 metres, all of the first five finishers coasted over the finish line under the previous Games record. In the women’s 1,500 metre, Allison Wiley of Toronto, posted a time of 4:22.56, and took almost 5 seconds off the old mark. The pool was also home to many new records, with records being set in nine out of ten finals on the first full day of pool events.
Did you know?
  • The Ojibway’s Great Spirit Nanabijou was a central theme in the opening ceremonies.
  • In 1970 the cities of Port Arthur and Fort William were married together to create Thunder Bay.
  • Using the minimum wage as a conservative estimate of the value of each individual’s time, the monetary value of these volunteers would be something more than $6 million.
  • The official mascot for the 1981Canada Games was Choklit Moose.