Why Prince Edward Islanders are still wearing this Canada Games jacket 32 years later
Keep your eyes peeled over the next two weeks and you might just see one of the most iconic pieces of clothing for Prince Edward Islanders: the green-and-white jackets, emblazoned with the Canada Games logo over the heart, that were handed out to volunteers in 1991.
Yes, these nylon jackets have been around for 32 years, and are still going strong.
One place you will find them is at the heart of a 1991 Canada Games memorabilia display put together by Don Murnaghan at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.
The Charlottetown Hockey Memorabilia Room features hundreds of hockey artifacts that Murnaghan has collected over the years.
But he is excited to have pulled together an impressive collection of items from the 1991 Canada Winter Games.
He started by reaching out to the 500 members of a Facebook group dedicated to the 1991 Canada Games volunteer jackets, made by Shain of Canada.
"I called a number of people and I said, 'I'm hoping to put on a 1991 Games display, would you be willing to loan or donate your items?' And I've had an excellent response," Murnaghan said.
"We have just about all the key items from the 1991: the iconic jacket, which you see everywhere, the sweaters, the pins in particular — those are collectors items.
The idea of getting it out there and letting people see the items I think was exciting for those people
"The Walkman has the original march in song for the '91 games, so that's unique as well. The idea of getting it out there and letting people see the items, I think, was exciting for those people."
The jacket is the obvious centrepiece of the 1991 displays.
"I think perhaps the fact that there aren't many left, and it's a unique jacket, it's associated with the Games," Murnaghan said.
"The people who have them, they love to wear them. I mean, you'll see them all over Charlottetown or all over P.E.I. and they wear them with pride. It's quite interesting."
One of the hardest items to find was the little Games mascot, a small plush beaver.
"That was difficult. Some people had them, but they decided that they didn't want to part with them," Murnaghan said.
"One mother had one for me, but the daughter was so upset that we were taking this for a display that she did not want to part with it, which is kind of cute."
Stu Dunn started the Facebook group dedicated to the 1991 volunteer jackets.
He's also the operations manager at the Eastlink Centre, where the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games will be held, and he was a goalie for the P.E.I. men's hockey team in 1991.
"Actually, I started on my own personal Facebook. I was posting the sightings of the jacket and it just became so popular that we decided to open it up to other users, and it kind of took off from there," Dunn said.
"It was just hard to believe that the jacket has existed this long. Believe it or not, I've had sightings as far away as Manitoba that people have posted."
"It's a 32-year-old jacket, and it's really become a story in its own and and it's been a lot of fun for people," Dunn said.
"I get calls and texts randomly that people have spotted them. They're very excited to see it because they are kind of on the rare side at this point in time, in 2023."
They're very excited to see it because they are kind of on the rare side at this point in time, in 2023.
— Stu Dunn
Dunn has heard of people paying up to $40 for one of the jackets at local thrift stores. He has had offers for his jacket, too, but is not selling.
He said there have been more jackets spotted on the Island as the 2023 Games approach, including at the recent athletes rally in Charlottetown.
"I just think it's a lot of fun, and it brings back memories. I participated in the games here in '91. It was a big thrill. The building was new at the time," Dunn said of the Eastlink Centre,
"The jackets were everywhere; every volunteer from tip to tip had one.
"To see the Island come together in '91 — the jackets kind of represented that, and now I guess it's kind of a sentimental-type thing for people that were involved in the Games back then, and now we're here 32 years later doing it again."
Dunn said he's happy that no one has tried to create a replica of the '91 jacket.
"This jacket, it's from '91 and and it's good to keep it that way," he said.
"It means a lot to people and it's been very popular. It's a part of the history of the games and the history of P.E.I. sports."
Murnaghan said he thinks there could be a similar buzz around the volunteer jackets from 2023.
"Yes, definitely. I mean they're popular right now, especially the volunteers' outfits. There's a three-piece outfit that they have," he said
"They have become extremely popular. So I would imagine in 32 years, people will be looking for all of these items that they have for this year's Games."