The Canadian odyssey began in a light snowfall in St. John ’s, Nfld., last Nov. 17, when two former Olympians proudly raised the three-pound torch for the first time and carried it down historic Signal Hill. Ferd Hayward, 76, who as a race walker in the 1952 Helsinki Games became the first Newfoundlander to compete as a Canadian in the Olympics, shared the honor of carrying the Olympic flame for its first kilometre with the legendary figure skater Barbara Ann Scott-King,
58, a gold medal winner in the 19U8 Games at St. Moritz, Switzerland.
That was the beginning of an unprecedented 88day 18,000-km relay through 10 provinces and two territories that has captured the imagination of Canadians. A sampling of the people who carried the torch for one kilometre each along the route to the opening of the Calgary Winter Games on Feb. 13:
MIKE MacDONNELL, 18,
St. Peter’s, N.S.: A member of the provincial cross-country ski team, the athlete was so enthralled by the experience of carrying the torch near his home on Cape Breton Island on Nov. 20 that, after passing it on to the next bearer, he kept on running with the relay for another 45 km. Explained MacDonnell: “I had planned on going on a 10-km training run anyway, but I was just so caught up in the excitement that I kept on going.”
IVAN COLEMAN, 38, Wilmot, P.E.I.: When Coleman, a minor-hockey coach, beaver leader and father of three, learned that he had been picked to run near his home on Nov. 25, it quickly became a family affair. His sons—Peter, 9, Scott, 7, and Christopher, 6—all clamored to run along with him. “And of course they did,” said their mother, Jeannie, 37. But she also dashed alongside, snapping pictures for a scrapbook souvenir of their turn with the flame. Said Jeannie: “That was our family’s
way of showing how terrific we think the Olympics are for Canadian youth.”
BRUNO LEVESQUE, 4, Gerry Levesque, 29, Jacquet River, N.B.: The youngest participant in the relay, Bruno says that it was “fun, fun, fun” to carry the torch. His father, Gerry, who owns a fitness
club and works in operations for Noranda Inc., submitted 100 applications each for himself and Bruno in the draw—“my wife, JoAnne, didn’t enter because she was pregnant”—and they were both picked to run on Dec. 1 near Edmunston, N.B., 300 km from home. “We trained for three months before the run,” says Gerry. “At first, Bruno couldn’t do it because he wasn’t pacing himself. He thought it was a race, so he’d run real fast and conk out. But he gradually got the hang of it.” At the end of his successful kilometre run, Bruno handed the torch to his father for his turn. Now, fresh from his triumph with the Olympic flame, Bruno has big ambitions. Said the young, three-foot, sixinch torchbearer: “I play hockey next
year—then the Olympics. I can skate faster than a zooming bullet.”
DONALDA GARNER, 39, Balgonie, Sask.: As a result of filling out her application incorrectly, Garner ended up being assigned to run on Dec. 3 outside Quebec City, 2,000 km from her home
in southern Saskatchewan—illustrating how the torch cavalcade could bring together Canadians who otherwise would not have met. The mother of two sold seven goats, a horse and some exotic poultry to pay for the trip. Then she and her parents stayed six days with the family of a local torchbearer, Pierre Fafard, and they got to know one other through their knowledge of a few words of one another’s language. After her own run, Garner joined Fafard for a few metres during his turn, and they held the torch aloft together. “The Fafards treated us not just like family, but like royalty,” said Garner. “I can always rebuild a herd, but the chance to carry the torch only comes once in a lifetime.”
KRISTI LAMBERT, 16, Orleans, Ont.: Lambert, a high-school student, carried the torch onto Parliament Hill on Dec. 16—an experience that she says she will treasure for the rest of her life. She also says that she will never part with the $150 red-and-white tracksuit that she, like all the torchbearers, got to keep. “People are saying they have been offered $3,000 for their suits,” said Lambert. “But I would never sell it.”
HEATHER FREER, 24, Petrolia, Ont.: Just nine hours after a brisk walk with the torch outside of nearby Sarnia on Jan. 2, Freer, already three days overdue in her first pregnancy, gave birth to a sevenpound, three-ounce daughter, Alyssa. “I didn’t know I was in labor,” said the clerk typist, who went to a restaurant and bar with her husband, Jay, and friends to celebrate after her turn with the torch. “I thought I just had a few cramps from the excitement and the walk.” Only four hours later, when Freer reached her parents’ home in nearby Brigden, did she turn seriously to thoughts of labor. She went to Sarnia’s St. Joseph’s Hospital and had an uncomplicated delivery. “My doctor had told me to walk very slowly,” admitted Freer. “But I couldn’t help speeding up with all the excitement going on.”
DAVID DOUCETTE, 15,
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.:
When Doucette carried the torch on Jan. 10 at White River, on the shores of Lake Superior, he cradled a framed picture of his younger brother, Jason, in his left arm. Jason, a superior athlete who excelled in league hockey, baseball and track, drowned last July 30 at the age of 12, four months after being chosen as a torch-runner. “If Jason could have seen me,” the Grade 10 student said of his run, “he would really think it was exciting and even maybe be a bit jealous. But I know he would be proud.” David had the support of his family as he prepared for the event and, on the day, his mother, Tarja, ran along
the roadside with a warm half-smile, but with tears flowing down her cheeks. David, himself a Bantam AAA hockey player, says that the run has helped to ease the grief of his brother’s death.
AMANDA HYWORREN, 18, Winnipeg: An admitted nonathlete, the Grade 12 student decided that the torch run was “a once-in-a-lifetime chance and a good way to commemorate my 18th birthday.” Accordingly, with the help of three friends, her parents and grandparents, she submitted what was probably the most entry forms of any applicant—16,280 in all. She
had a rubber stamp made with her name and address on it to make the task easier, but she had to sign every form and mark down the day when she wanted to run— Jan. 14. And because she was under 18 and needed parental consent, her mother had to sign all of the forms, too. Said Hyworren, whose father videotaped her run 240
km east of home in Kenora, Ont.: “I will be able to show that to my grandkids and say that that’s what I did on my 18th birthday.”
TIM MclSAAC, 29, Winnipeg: Mclsaac, a blind swimmer, was one of two disabled athletes chosen to carry the torch in Manitoba. He has participated in international games for the disabled seven times and is scheduled to go to Seoul for the next round starting in October, directly after the Summer Olympics there. Mclsaac said that he had to concentrate so much on what his two guides were telling him during his run in Brandon, Man., on Jan. 16 that he did not have much of a chance to reflect on the experience at the time. “But I think it was worthwhile and fitting of the organizers to include disabled athletes,” he said. “It is as close as I will come to being part of the ablebodied Olympics.”
DOROTHY GEORGE, 61,
Saskatoon: A retired physical-education teacher, George has been active in sports all her life. She said that it was “quite a thrill” to carry the flame up to the Saskatoon city hall on Jan. 18. She had to make her way through an enthusiastic crowd for her last few metres, but she said that hearing familiar voices calling her name made it a particularly memorable and worthwhile experience. “Seeing all the children’s wide-eyed, little faces was just wonderful,” she recalled. “For many of them, seeing the torch was almost better than seeing Santa Claus.”
ANN LATIMER, 29, Ye! lowknife: In Northwest Territories' capital on Jan. 19, Latimer strapped her four month-old daughter,
Sharlene, to her chest, bundled in a pink snowsuit against the -35°C cold. Then, as she jogged along Franklin Avenue with the torch aloft, the single mother waved to the parkaclad crowd. “It will be a memory for Sharlene,” said Latimer, who works as a secretary. “Maybe one day she will be in the Olympics.” □
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