Don Goodwin, who brought together CBC Sports and the Canada Games, headed for Hall of Honour

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Don Goodwin will be inducted into the Canada Games Hall of Honour on Friday. (Submitted by Rosemary Goodwin - image credit)
Don Goodwin will be inducted into the Canada Games Hall of Honour on Friday. (Submitted by Rosemary Goodwin - image credit)

More than 50 years later, the Canada Games and CBC seem inextricable from one another.

It was Don Goodwin, who played key roles in both parties, who first orchestrated the arrangement in 1969.

Now, as the 28th Canada Games get set to begin in Niagara, Ont., Goodwin will be posthumously inducted into the event's Hall of Honour on Friday.

Goodwin died in 2018. Widow Rosemary Goodwin said the acknowledgement "means the world" to her.

"Don was never a person who gave a fig about recognition," she said. "Whenever he did something, he made sure that it was fabulous. And then at the end, it was over. And he turned around and said, 'What's next?'"

The first Canada Games were held in 1967 to acknowledge Canada's centennial. But there was no guarantee the event, which pits athletes from across the country in inter-provincial and inter-territorial competition, would continue.

Goodwin, along with colleagues Hugh Noble and Finlay MacDonald, strove to ensure the Canada Games would remain the "crown jewel" of a new landscape for Canadian sport.

Submitted by Rosemary Goodwin
Submitted by Rosemary Goodwin

Key to that success was Goodwin, an on-air personality and one-time head of CBC Sports, marrying his work and his passion. He volunteered for the Canada Games.

"So now whenever he was talking to anyone in the sports community, in the facilities community, in sponsorships, everything, he could lead with the fact that CBC is covering all this. And that just made all the difference. That's what gave it credibility," Rosemary Goodwin recalled.

Those 1969 Games took place in Halifax, which posed a problem especially when considering the travel of west-coast athletes.

But Rosemary says there was never an issue Don couldn't overcome.

"He was just very direct. This is where we are. This is where we need to go. We'll just move in that direction," Rosemary said. "And if there was an obstacle, well, you never let the obstacle stop you. The only question was, are we going around it, under it, over it or through it?"

Despite vast technological advances through the years, Rosemary said the 2022 Canada Games maintain the vision and heartbeat first established by Don in the 1960s.

"It does get a little bit frustrating and does get a little bit complicated. But that's what I keep saying to my volunteers here. … On opening day, when the first bus arrives and those kids pour out of that bus into our venue and hit the tennis courts, it's going to be a joyful thing. And that's what we're here for," said Rosemary, who remains involved with the event.

Submitted by Rosemary Goodwin
Submitted by Rosemary Goodwin

Don Goodwin's love for sports didn't end at the Canada Games.

He served as deputy chef de mission for Team Canada at the 1972 Summer Olympics before taking on the top role at the 1976 Winter Games in Austria. That same year, he led CBC's broadcast coverage of the Summer Olympics in Montreal.

He also served as master of ceremonies at the Rogers Cup for 35 years before being inducted into the event's Hall of Fame in 2014.

Also being inducted to the Canada Games Hall of Honour are star athletes Steve Nash and Brian McKeever, fellow alumni Stacey Allaster and Michael Stranger, and builder Tom Quinn.

Goodwin's legacy in growing Canadian sport is indisputable. Now, he'll add one more accomplishment by heading into 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 accomplish anything you set out to do,'" said Rosemary.

"I think he is a shining light and a beacon to follow."

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