It had never happened before.
History was made on the shores of Lake Ontario when Hamilton became the first Canadian city to ever host a mega-event, in this case, the very first British Empire Games.
The city known for steel and manufacturing, welcomed 400 amateur athletes from 11 teams who competed in six events. The diving and swimming competitions were open to men and women, while only men took part in athletics, boxing, bowls, rowing and wrestling.
Amateur athletes from around the British Empire and Commonwealth gathered to compete at what was known as Hamilton Civic Stadium.
Home to a population of more than 150,000 at the time, and the fifth largest city in Canada, boasted some 500 manufacturing plants, including two major steel manufacturers. Hamilton’s urban and parks planners of the day designed beautification and infrastructure projects to signal the city’s urban and industrial prosperity, while testifying to its natural beauty and industrial progress. Local boosters positioned Hamilton as a place ‘on the go’, with its grand new western entrance, its new 18-storey steel-skeleton skyscraper of Art-Deco and Gothic-Revival styling, its magnificent new Cathedral Basilica, Canada’s first Garden City suburb development, and its new university, McMaster, lured students from Toronto.
The city’s sports scene was also booming, with its professional Hamilton Tigers football team playing on the grounds of the Hamilton Amateur Athletic Association, the Hamilton Olympic Club’s cinder track having been used for 1928 Canadian Olympic Trials, and the recent revival of the city’s once-famed Leander Boat Club.
However, the Great Depression later that decade hit Hamilton hard. The simultaneous and prolonged decline in domestic consumption and international trade put a stop to residential and institutional construction for a decade.
The Games would evolve, in 1954 they became the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, in 1970 they were known as the British Commonwealth Games before changing the name again in 1978 to the Commonwealth Games.
More than 70 years after Hamilton first hosted the inaugural British Empire Games, it tried to bring those Games back to the city. bidding unsuccessfully for them three times between 1987 and 2005. Hamilton was Canada’s official bid city in 2003, but lost to New Delhi, India for the right to host the 2010 Games. The city bid again in 2005 for the 2014 Games, but lost in the domestic competition to Halifax.
We’re hoping to bring the Commonwealth Games back to it’s birthplace, a century after the first athletes took the field.