Canada Games Alumni Profile

Don Goodwin
6/11/20
Bill Potrecz, BP Sports Niagara

Spotlight: Don Goodwin

Without the late Don Goodwin, there would likely be no Canada Games.

Goodwin’s hard work and dedication were instrumental in getting the first Canada Winter Games off the ground in 1967 in Quebec City, but that was only the start.

Goodwin, who was an on-air personality and executive at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (better known as the CBC), used his influence to ensure the follow-up Canada Summer Games two years later in Halifax would build off the success of the inaugural venture. 

“It’s like turning a ship around in a swimming pool. It’s very difficult,” said Goodwin’s widow, Rosemary Goodwin. “If you can’t make a good start and make a big impact at the beginning, it’s very easy for everything to sputter and fade away. They knew after 1967 if they didn’t make a great job of the Canada Summer Games for 1969, it would probably be gone forever.”

Don Goodwin made a huge push to get the 1969 Canada Games in Halifax because that’s where he was working and wanted to be directly involved.

“When I reflect back on it, he was able to bring the CBC into the situation,” Rosemary Goodwin said. “He managed to walk that platform between the CBC and the organizing committee. He persuaded them to treat it like it was the Olympics which was enormous.”

Don Goodwin was successful in doing just that, persuading the CBC to broadcast the 1969 Canada Games on both television and radio, in both official languages.

“In every meeting they had, they could say (it would be broadcast) on national television. I think that was probably a really key ingredient,” Rosemary Goodwin said.

Don Goodwin, who died in 2018 in Niagara-on-the-Lake where he and his wife retired to in 1988, believed sport was an essential component of a well-rounded life.

“He was passionately involved in sport and recreation and fitness, the contribution it can make to society as a whole and how important it was for the national interest,” Rosemary Goodwin remembered. “We take that for granted today but in the 1950s it wasn’t that way. It wasn’t until 1960 that there was federal funding for sport. It created a framework to let the federal government put money into sport recognizing it should be part of the national fabric.”

Rosemary Goodwin believes her late husband would have been tickled pink to see the Niagara 2021 Canada Summer Games take place in his backyard.

“If Don were here today and was asked to advise, he would say to create a broadcasting arm that is going to make this into an entertainment event. I think there is a wonderful opportunity there,” she said. “From being on the executive committee, he understood the sports because he was a sports broadcaster all his life. It all had to be true and good and solid. That was huge but it had to be packaged as a show. That engages everyone. It engages the athletes to the community. Don was absolutely brilliant at that.”

Don Goodwin’s resume is chock full of impressive accomplishments beyond the Canada Games.

His commitment to the Olympic Games led to his appointment as deputy Chef de Mission (along with Dick Pound) for the Canadian team at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, before he eventually led the team as Chef de Mission for the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. As head of sports, he managed the CBC’s role of host broadcaster for the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and greatly expanded the domestic broadcast schedule. 

He also fell in love with tennis and was Master of Ceremonies for over 35 years at the Rogers Cup and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2014. He was also the Master of Ceremonies for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

This report was filed by BP Sports Niagara, which is owned and operated by Bernie Puchalski and Bill Potrecz.

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