Dubbed “The Hottest Summer in Half a Century”, the 50th Canada Games was held July 28-August 13, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and co-hosted by the First Nation communities of Treaty No. 1, Treaty No. 3 and the Manitoba Metis Federation. Thirty U21 athletes and five coaches represented Ontario in the sport of rowing at this year’s games, joining over 4,000 other athletes and coaches from across the country from 19 sport disciplines.  While most of the Canada Games venues were in Winnipeg itself, rowing was hosted 200km east at the Kenora Rowing Club in Kenora, ON.

The ROWONTARIO contingent at the 2017 Canada Summer Games were very successful, contributing 7 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze medals to Team Ontario, who overall won 212 medals at the Games, finished in 1st place in the overall medal standing, and won the Canada Summer Games flag.

Gold

  • Single Scull (Male) – Trevor Jones (Peterborough)
  • Double Sculls (Male) – Trevor Jones and Gavin Stone (Island Lake)
  • Quadruple Sculls (Female) – Haley Chase (Laurentian), Emma Dockray (St. Catharines), Anna Maloney (St. Catharines) and Emily Stewart (St. Catharines)
  • Quadruple Sculls (Male) – Nick Everett (Brockville), Jared Naar (South Niagara), Ethan McAlpine (St. Catharines) and Dan Bullock (Peterborough)
  • Pair (Male) – Luke Gadsdon (Leander) and Hunter Amesbury (Leander)
  • Lightweight Four (Male) – Owen Voelkner (St. Catharines), James Sinclair (Leander), Nick Grubic (Leander) and Nick Nero (St. Catharines)
  • Eight with Coxswain (Male) – Luke Gadsdon, Hunter Amesbury, Jared Naar, Dan Bullock, Nick Everett, Ethan McAlpine, Matt Pamenter (Don), Patrick Gogan (UWO) and Kaitlyn Akitt (Leander)

Silver

  • Four (Male) – Owen Voelkner, James Sinclair, Nick Grubic and Nick Nero

Bronze

  • Pair (Female) – Claire Dirks (Havergal) and Lauren Gadsdon (Leander)
  • Eight with Coxswain (Female) – Claire Dirks, Lauren Gadsdon, Keira Allen (Don), Amanda Martin (St. Catharines), Rebecca Camplin (South Niagara), Lauren Kelly (St. Catharines), Mary-Jo Weir-Weiss (Ottawa), Jasmine Lehata (South Niagara) and Riley Raso (UCC)

Fourth

  • Single Scull (Female) – Haley Chase
  • Double Sculls (Female) – Anna Maloney and Emily Stewart
  • Lightweight Double Sculls (Female) – Abbey Maillet (Leander) and Alicia Piazza (St. Catharines)
  • Four (Female) – Keira Allen, Amanda Martin, Rebecca Camplin and Jasmine Lehata

As well as individual medals, provinces and territories compete for the overall Games flag, which is established by adding sport scoring points from all events.  Speaking in terms of just rowing, the Team Ontario men earned the most points, ahead of British Columbia.  On the women’s side, it was reversed, with Team B.C. finishing first with Team Ontario in second.

The ROWONTARIO Canada Games Program began in 2014.  Spearheaded by former Director of High Performance and Coach Development Mike Purcer, the development program aimed at providing participants the opportunity to train and compete with other high-performance athletes from Ontario clubs, with a focus on the 2017 Canada Summer Games.  Athletes were identified, monitored, and ranked through RADAR erg score submissions, performance at regattas, club and program visits, regular identification and development camps held across the province, and communication with clubs, coaches, and athletes themselves, until ultimately a combined ranking based on RADAR and on-water boat speed demonstrated at targeted regattas was developed and regularly updated.  Since 2014, various clubs across the province, from London to Ottawa, have hosted identification and development camps for potential Canada Games athletes and their coaches.  ROWONTARIO would like to acknowledge this partnership; the participation by and support from member Clubs and their coaches have greatly contributed to athlete development across Ontario, as was the mission of the 2017 Canada Games.

In August 2015, ROWONTARIO selected an initial pool of coaches tasked with developing potential Canada Games athletes via the various identification and development camps mentioned above.  As well as the five coaches who travelled with the team to Kenora, Dan Bechard (Western), Mike Petrychanko (St. Catharines), Matt Waddell (Western), Mark Welsh (St. Catharines) and Iain Wilson (Hanlan) were instrumental in defining and developing the Canada Games program along the way, along with countless Club and University coaches who worked with athletes directly in their respective programs before they were invited to the training centres.

ROWONTARIO would like to acknowledge the clubs who hosted Canada Games training centres in preparation for the games, and the five program coaches who worked directly with athletes leading up to and at the Games.  The men’s team training centre was hosted by Brock University Rowing in St. Catharines and was coached by Andrea Miller of Leander Boat Club/Brock, who was also the rowing team’s Manager, and assisted by Swede Burak (St. Catharines/Brock) and Pete Somerwhil (Brock).  The women’s openweight sculling program was hosted by the Sudbury Rowing Club and coached by Laurentian University head coach Amanda Schweinbenz, who was also named as Team Ontario rowing’s head coach.  The lightweight scullers were hosted by the Ottawa Rowing Club and coached by CAO Apprentice Coach Jamie Bell (Ottawa/Carlton University).  The openweight sweep program also trained out of Ottawa, and was coached by Kate Gorsline, also of Ottawa University. ROWONTARIO would like to thank Brock University Rowing, Sudbury Rowing Club and Ottawa Rowing Club for hosting the Canada Games training centres from May-July, the CORA Welland regatta for allowing the team to race exhibition, Laurentian University for hosting the pre-Canada Games staging camp, and every member club who contributed an athlete or a coach, and who welcomed them back in time to race in club colours at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.

ROWONTARIO would also specifically like to acknowledge our many funding partners that contributed to the development, growth, and eventual success of the program.  Thank you to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for supporting the development camps, thus alleviating the financial burden on participating clubs.  Thank you to the Canadian Sports Institute of Ontario for contributing Integrated Sports Team (IST) support at various development camps, which enhanced the high-performance training environment for both athletes and coaches.  Thank you to the Coaching Association of Ontario for the Apprentice Coach grant, providing financial support for coach training to develop more coaches to work with elite and high-performance rowers in Ontario.  Thank you to the Team Ontario Development Grant Project, which directly supported ROWONTARIO Canada Games development camps in Georgia, as well as at the 2016 National Rowing Championships.  Last but certainly not least, thank you to all ROWONTARIO member clubs who supported the program by developing athletes and coaches, contributing equipment or training facilities, or otherwise just supporting and celebrating our Canada Games athletes and coaches and their accomplishments.

The Canada Games are held every two years, alternating between summer and winter, and are considered a key event in the development of Canada’s young athletes.  Rowing was first included in the Canada Games in 1969, and has grown from five male-only disciplines to six disciplines contested by both males and females.  According to the official 2017 Canada Summer Games website, “The Canada Summer Games is a benchmark regatta for many provinces (and their sports ministries) confirming the ongoing development of athletes, coaches and umpires at the top provincial level.  The Games could be the highlight of the athlete’s career or it could be a stepping stone to the National Rowing Team.”  Many Canada Games athletes go on to compete as national, international and Olympic champions in their sport, and rowing is no exception.  Matthew Finley, Doug Csima, Steve Van Knotsenburg, Natalie Mastracci, Jill Moffat and Kirsten Barnes are just a few examples of Ontario rowers who competed at the Canada Summer Games on their way to U23, Senior national, or Olympic success.