From July 2003, when Vancouver was awarded the right to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, rarely was this event far from the minds or lips of most British Columbians. Perhaps never has an event consumed the public as the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. John Wilson ‘Jack’ Poole must be given due credit as one of the individuals most responsible for bringing this, the largest sporting event—or event of any kind for that matter—to British Columbia.
For two years, Poole led the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation as volunteer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ensuring that all groups involved in the bid shared a common vision of what the Games could be for Vancouver. Often the difference between hosting the Olympic Games and being a perennially passed-over candidate is the ability of a few unique individuals in effectively uniting the wide range of member partners, such as the various levels of government, the various sporting organizations, and the various communities and peoples where the Games will take place, each of which possess their own competing interests. Together with John Furlong, who later became head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), Poole would become largely identified as the face and name behind the successful Olympic bid.
Following the successful bid to host the Games, Poole co-chaired the 2010 Transition Committee, which completed the business of the Bid Committee in preparation of handing over responsibility of all 2010 Games organizational efforts to VANOC. Leading up to the Games, Poole served as chairman of 2010 Board of Directors to which he was unanimously elected.
Regarded as one of Canada’s most successful businessmen, Poole was a partner and/or owner of seventeen private businesses in Canada and the United States. He was a co-founder of Concert Properties, a Vancouver-based diversified real estate development company, and DAON Development Corporation in BC, which was the second largest real estate investment and development company in North America in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was profiled in Maclean’s, Canadian Business, The Wall Street Journal and many major newspapers across the continent.
While the majority of Poole’s background was in the business world, he was also the Founding Chair of the Molson Indy Vancouver and participated in a number of sports recreationally including golf and curling.
In 2003, Poole was honoured with the Order of British Columbia and, in 2006 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2004, he was the recipient of Tourism BC’s Tourism Industry Leader of the Year Award, both for his efforts with the 2010 Bid Committee.
Sadly, Poole was never given the opportunity to witness the Games he was so responsible for securing for Vancouver. He died of pancreatic cancer shortly after midnight on October 23, 2009, just hours after the Olympic Flame was lit at the beginning of the 2010 Winter Olympics torch relay, in Olympia, Greece.
To honour his work and achievement for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the former Thurlow Plaza overlooking Burrard Inlet was rechristened “Jack Poole Plaza” in his memory. The International Olympic Committee honoured Poole posthumously by awarding him the prestigious Olympic Order.
Even in his absence, the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games were an overwhelming success. Two months of celebration, drama, and glory alongside modern facilities, elaborate ceremonies, and gold medals have left a lasting legacy among the proudest moments in British Columbia’s rich history. The tireless efforts of those individuals such as Poole, who procured the 2010 Games for BC in the first place, must not be forgotten.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.