Lake Banook

And the 1969 Canada Summer Games

The first ever Canada Summer Games were held in Halifax-Dartmouth in 1969 and changed Lake Banook forever.

Some of Nova Scotia's most prominent canoeing, kayak, and rowing athletes got their starts on Dartmouth's own Lake Banook. People of all ages enjoy paddling its waters, competing in regattas, and honing their skills. But the shining lake of today differs in one significant way from Lake Banook before 1969's Canada Summer Games.

Halifax and Dartmouth were to jointly host the first ever Canada Summer Games between August 16th and August 24th, 1969. Elsewhere in the world, the Summer of Love was in full swing, and the globe was still reeling from Apollo 11's first manned landing on the moon. Amid the ground-breaking global change of the "Summer of 69," Halifax and Dartmouth were doing some "ground breaking" of their own in preparation for the Games. An unused portion of the Dartmouth Commons was converted to ball fields, Saint Mary's University constructed a new stadium to seat 9,600 fans, while other construction projects brought the two cities tennis courts, swimming pools, and sports fields. For baseball and softball alone, over 200,000 spectators showed up to these new venues to watch competitors from all provinces play in the games.

Changes on Lake Banook were even more dramatic. Lake Banook was the perfect venue for paddling competitions. The lake already had a long tradition of enjoyment by paddlers of all levels. The Banook Canoe Club was formed in 1903, joined later by the Mic Mac Amateur Athletic Club, Senobe Aquatic Club, and North Star Rowing Club. A summer did not go by without boats on Lake Banook's waters. But when hosting the Canada Summer Games, there was one thing that stood in the way of the lake being used for races: a small island in the centre that was submerged in the 19th century when the lake was damned for the Shubenacadie Canal. The submerged island made the water too shallow for race lanes, but in true Atlantic spirit, this was not enough to deter the Games. Construction crews simply drained the lake, flattened the island, and refilled the hole. Although forever changed, Lake Banook still remained the ideal body of water for paddle sports.