Message from the Chair


The year 1994 was a pretty special one in British Columbian sport. That was the year of Canada’s stunning upset men’s golf victory over the United States in the Alfred Dunhill Cup. It was the year of Lui Passaglia’s last second Grey Cup-winning field goal at BC Place, making history over Baltimore. It was also the year that saw Trevor Linden, Kirk McLean and the Vancouver Canucks make it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final before losing to Mark Messier and the New York Rangers.

Yet 1994 was also an important year in major, historical events held here in British Columbia. It was the year in which the XV Commonwealth Games were held in Greater Victoria. And for all of the excitement brought by the Dunhill Cup team, the Lions and the Canucks, it was the Commonwealth Games that truly made the year a transformative one.

Those Commonwealth Games helped establish Victoria as a national sport treasure; as one of the most important athlete development and training hubs in Canada. What happened that summer on the playing grounds of high performance sport was glorious. Yet it wasn’t as important as what was the follow: A migration of multiple national training centres and national team camps and headquarters to Greater Victoria.

The formal side of that was anchored in the Commonwealth Centre for Sport Development and the Canada Commonwealth Legacy Fund. The former — which later became the PacificSport Canadian Sport Centre Victoria and today part of the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific – provided the infrastructure for vertically-integrated training pods across athletics, cycling, rugby and swimming, among others. It also played a leadership role in establishing what is now the Pacific Institute for Sport Education (PISE) at Camosun College. The latter – which is now 94 Forward, the Greater Victoria Commonwealth Games Legacy Fund – provided an endowment fund that provided seed and operating capital for those national training centres. It was only the beginning.

Almost 40 years later – 39 to be exact – Greater Victoria boasts more national team training headquarters per capita, at least in summer sport disciplines, than any other city in Canada. It is the home of Rowing Canada, the national mountain bike team, Rugby Canada’s headquarters at Shawnigan Lake and Triathlon Canada, among others, including surfing. Those national team members and dozens of others who compete for Canada at the highest levels of international sport, choose to reside and train on Vancouver Island for a number of reasons.

The sport scientists at the Victoria campus of Canadian Sport Institute Pacific are one of them. The various training facilities are another. Above and beyond the constructed facilities are the natural amenities, including some of the best mountain biking training environments in the country and other iconic beauties such as Elk Lake in rowing. The climate – one of the few in Canada that accommodates year-round training at the highest levels – is certainly another. Quality of life is another, not to mention the views of the Olympic mountains to the south and the Gulf Islands to the east. It certainly helps that Victoria is a university town, with the University of Victoria, Royal Roads University and Camosun College all making the grade in a big way. It helps that CSI Pacific programs such as Gymworks and Foodstuff reduce key training and living expenses.

Yet arguably the most important of all these reasons why Victoria is such a national sport treasure is an intangible. That is the intangible of support. The Greater Victoria communities are largely aligned and united behind its place as a national training hub. That’s true of many of the 17 councils that govern Greater Victoria. And it’s true of the post-secondary institutions and many employers in and around town.

(Just one look at the sponsorship roster of the Greater Victoria 2023 Annual Summit of the BC Sports Hall of Fame this weekend (September 14th-16th) and that culture of support shines through: The Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, BC Games Society and PISE, along with the BC Sports Hall of Fame Foundation and Sport BC, plus the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame as co-hosts).

Add it all up and Greater Victoria is a good place to call home, especially if you’re a high performance athlete. That sport culture is a powerful draw and a strong galvanizing force. It becomes more deeply rooted every time another national team athlete elects to “retire” and stay in Victoria after his or her competitive career ends. Think of all of the Canadian high performers who have chosen to live in Greater Victoria since the XV Commonwealth Games in 1994 and it’s a robust number; perhaps second only to Calgary.

That position that Greater Victoria holds as a high performance training hub also makes it a spawning ground for stories; stories of high achievement, victory and triumph on the world stage. Those stories will be passed on from generation to generation, only strengthening what Victoria contributes to our national teams in general and our summer Olympic and Paralympic teams in particular

The fact that so many of the “defining moments” in BC sport history are Victoria-based is a testament to the national treasure it has become. Those stories can only help inspire the future, for Greater Victoria, for British Columbia and for Canada.

Tom Mayenknecht, Chair
BC Sports Hall of Fame

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and founder and host of The Sport Market sport business radio show, he is a strong advocate for KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder and founding Chair of the Paul Carson Sports Broadcast & Media Awards.