By Zach Peters
Though it has been nearly 50 years since Doreen Botterill originally received her Bison adorned jacket, she still remembers how honoured she felt on that day back in 1967.
Botterill, who was 20 at the time, was already a well decorated speed skater. She had been named the Manitoba Outstanding Junior Athlete in 1961. She had represented Canada at the Winter Olympics in 1964 in Innsbruck, Austria. And she had been honoured as Manitoba’s Athlete of the Year in 1965. But none of that overshadowed the honour of putting on her Manitoba competitors jacket for the first time ahead of the inaugural Canada Winter Games.
“Sterling Lyon presented me with our Canada Games jacket,” said Botterill. “I had spent my whole life growing up in Winnipeg, so I was - and am - proud to be a Manitoban, and was proud to put on that jacket and represent my province at the games.”
And did she ever represent her province well. Botterill won all four of the women’s speed skating events that winter in Quebec.
Botterill says she enjoyed the Canada Games format, because even though she competed as an individual in her races it was all about the team point total.
“There’s this focus on doing the best you can for more than just yourself, it’s for your province,” she said. “So I was certainly proud that I could get the maximum points possible.”
For Botterill the 1967 Games, and the Canada Games as a whole, are not only about team but also all about family. Botterill’s sister and father were both alongside her at the 1967 Games; her sister as a fellow athlete and her father as a coach. Botterill’s daughter Jennifer also represented Manitoba in ringette at the Canada Winter Games in 1995 in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Botterill remembers going to Grande Prairie to watch and says she took great joy in seeing her daughter compete.
“To be a Canadian athlete yourself is certainly an honour, but then to see your children representing your province - and country, well that takes being proud and honoured to a whole new level.”
Botterill says she doesn’t know what happened to that Bison adorned jacket she once wore proudly, but she still has the speedskating program from the inaugural Canada Games, and a few pictures from the newspaper her mom clipped for her. Botterill says it’s important to have some small keepsakes like those, even if you can’t keep everything.
“Yes, here’s that picture of me, Sterling Lyon and my jacket. What an honour.”