'The legacy of the Games': P.E.I. group spots vintage Canada Games jackets for fun

They were handed out by the hundreds to volunteers of the 1991 Canada Winter Games in P.E.I. as a cosy incentive to officiate, check tickets, coordinate parking and chauffeur busloads of young people to rinks and venues across the Island — iconic green-and-white colour block jackets, emblazoned with the Canada Games logo over the heart. 

Now, there's a Facebook group dedicated to spotting the ever-more-rare jackets called 1991 Canada Games Volunteer Jackets.

"It's turned into a bit of a sighting game," said Stu Dunn, one of the group's administrators, operations manager at Charlottetown's Eastlink Centre. 

He likens the game to the old Volksgagen-spotting game, punch buggy — only in this group, you snap a photo of the jacket-wearer and post it to the Facebook page.

They were everywhere

For years the jackets were ubiquitous on Island streets — worn by the original volunteers, handed down, or sold at yard sales or thrift stores. 

Although sightings have become more rare over the years, they're still not uncommon.

"I'm excited to see another sighting before they become extinct," wrote Billy McGuigan on the page. 

"It's all good online entertainment and also it's a way that we keep the legacy of the 1991 Canada Games alive," said page founder Aubs MacDonald, marvelling "it's just amazing that have the jackets are in such good shape after the 26 years." Anyone can join in the fun online, he added.

Although many people may not realize their photos are being taken, Dunn explains, "it's a very light-hearted page." If anyone were ever to complain about their photo being used, he said the photo would be removed. 

"Hopefully everyone sees the fun in it," Dunn said.

Part of the team

Dunn was the goaltender for P.E.I.'s 1991 Canada Games men's hockey team at age 16, and remembers the time fondly. 

Regretfully, he said, he no longer has his team jacket, but said it likely wouldn't fit him anyway. 

However one of Dunn's former teammates, Mark Quinn, posted a photo to the group wearing his 1991 team jacket. 

Issuing challenges

Members of the group can even win virtual medals, based on the number of jacket spottings they've photographed. One sighting equals bronze status, while you need five or more sightings to reach the platinum plus level.

They sometimes issue one another challenges, too.

"Got two McDoubles for anyone who can snap a pic of someone in a '91 coat operating a Zamboni," one poster wrote. 

You don't have to live on P.E.I. to be in on the fun, either. 

"Rumour has it there have been sightings of '91 Canada Games jackets here in Fort Mac. I'll be on the lookout and will report right away when it happens," wrote Shawn Kennedy in March from Fort McMurray, Alta. 

2023 Games coming

"Who would have thunk — people have joked that the jacket maybe is the legacy of the Games," mused Dunn.

The jackets were sponsored by Ultramar, with a patch on one arm -— Dunn notes the "sponsorship value would be through the roof," with all the brand exposure over the past 25 years.

P.E.I. will bid to host the 2023 Canada Winter Games, just five years from now. 

"We'll have to start a trend with the new jackets," Dunn said, adding he looks forward to being part of the 2023 games in some capacity. 

Dunn doesn't have one of the 1991 jackets, but would love to — he's willing to pay up to $50 for an extra large in mint condition, he said.  

The group's members have also posted all kinds of other 1991 Games memorabilia, including pins, buttons, team jerseys, programs and duffle bags. 

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