Roly McLenahan was a leader in the formation of New Brunswick’s Canada Games team as they ventured into their very first Games held in Quebec City in 1967. His belief in the Games and their impact went far beyond sport development.
McLenahan has been inducted as an athlete into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, but his legacy is much deeper than as an amateur and professional hockey player and coach.
In 1961, McLenahan became New Brunswick’s first Director of Sports. His role helped steer the provincial government’s efforts in the promotion and development of youth amateur sports in the province. When he began, there were only 15 or 20 provincial sport bodies in existence. McLenahan worked to bring the focus back on developing young athletes. During the 1960’s, using Federal and Provincial government grant money, Roly encouraged and supported initiatives that resulted in growth and improvement of sport, especially for youth.
During the mid 1960’s, McLenahan was instrumental in making the very first Canada Games in Quebec City in 1967 a reality. His belief in the Games and their impact went far beyond sport development.
Until his death from cancer in 1984, McLenahan witnessed the sport system, he helped create, grow to over 40 provincial sport organizations. Under his leadership, New Brunswick was the first province in Canada to launch a provincial games, and a New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame was created. In the 1970s’ and 80’s he was an active member of the Canada Games Council, a chef de mission for New Brunswick, and a strong supporter of the Games as a tool for sport excellence, sport development and national unity.
Shortly after he passed away the Interprovincial Sport and Recreational Council and the Canada Games Council combined to name the Canada Games Torch in his honour which is still in use today.
Certainly, McLenahan saw the role the Canada Games play in motivating young athletes to aspire to higher levels, but he will also be remembered and inducted for celebrating the influence the Games had on opening the eyes of participants to see that Canada was a large country bound by a love of sport.