Caribou Antler Sculpture - Canada Winter Games Northern Torches, 2007 by Shane Wilson

Our nation's Olympics for youth and a training ground for the real thing, the Canada Games were officially born during Canada's Centennial in 1967. The 2007 Canada Winter Games marked their 40th anniversary.

Held once every two years and alternating between summer and winter, the Canada Games represent the highest level of national competition for the next generation of national team athletes and future champions. The Canada Games also contribute to Canada's sport development system and create a lasting legacy of sport facilities, community pride and national unity.

The Canada Games have been hosted by every province at least once since their inception in Quebec City. In 2007, the Canada Winter Games moved north for the first time and was hosted by the three Territories in Whitehorse, Yukon.


Prior to each Canada Games, a Torch Relay is conducted to herald the beginning of the competition and knit the country in common purpose. As the Olympic Torch is lit from the sun in great Olympia, the Canada Games Torch is lit from the Eternal Flame, burning upon Parliament Hill in our nation's capital.

A truly staggering 100,000 km relay was undertaken to prepare for the 2007 Canada Winter Games. After being lit in Ottawa, the Canada Games Torch was flown to Alert, located on the north coast of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut - the "most northern permanently inhabited settlement in the world." On its way there, it was joined by the three 2007 Canada Winter Games Pan Northern Torches, created by Shane Wilson, and together they were flown over the North Pole.

In Alert, the Canada Games Torch lit the three 2007 Canada Winter Games Pan Northern Torches, each representing one of the Host Territories: Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The three 2007 Canada Winter Games Pan Northern Torches then headed to their respective Territories. Together, they visited almost all 83 communities in Canada's North, highlighted two unique places in each Territory with special Canada Winter Games Torch Challenges, and involved all forms of northern transportation.

The three 2007 Canada Winter Games Pan Northern Torches reunited in Whitehorse, Yukon to relight the Canada Games Torch, following which, all four torches lit the Canada Games Cauldron, signalling the ceremonial start of the of the 2007 Canada Winter Games, on February 23th, 2007.


The Canada Games Torch was renamed the Roly McLenahan Torch in 1985, in honour of the late Roly McLenahan, who was an original member of the Canada Games Council and demonstrated a life-long commitment to youth and their participation in sport.

The Roly McLenahan Torch is used to commence each Canada Games Torch Relay and must be used to ignite the official Games Flame during the Opening Ceremonies. There are two Roly McLenahan Torches: the original torch and a newer version. Both are metal, the former has a stitched leather handle (worn and somewhat loose) and the later has a wrapped leather handle (similar to that used on a bat or raquet). Both share a similar flared top with a receptical for a solid fuel source.

The three 2007 Canada Winter Games Pan Northern Torches were commissioned by Touch the North, Inc. for donation to the 2007 Whitehorse Canada Winter Games Society.

Each torch is unique, with a carved handle fashioned from caribou antler. Caribou antler was chosen because of its unique handle-like shaft, as well as the fact that caribou are universally present in all three of Canada's Territories. The palm and tine portion of the antlers, which normally point upward in their natural state, have been reversed to point downward and host the signature carvings.

Each carving contains three elements: an animal significant to the respective Territory, the Canada Games Maple Leaf logo with an addition of three veins to represent the three territories who have joined together to host the Games, and an element containing 13 parts to signify the Provinces and Territories that make up Canada.

The Yukon Torch features a raven overlooking 13 mountain tops of the northern boreal forest; the Northwest Territories Torch sports a polar bear clambering onto secure footing from an ice pan breaking up into 13 pieces; the Nunavut Torch displays the narwhal with tusk passing through the Canada Games Maple Leaf logo, swimming amongst 13 ocean waves.

The torch tops are fashioned from stainless steel and copper and hold a solid fuel source - a 'cupcake' of wax and woodchips that has a burn time of about 1/2 hour.

**For images, text and video coverage of the 2007 Canada Winter Games Pan Northern Torch Relay, click here. Use your browser's back button to return to this page.