Get Pumped for Summer Sports Events Across Canada

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed an amazing variety of Canadian spectator sports events in the summer. Many of them involved the judicious use of shorts, sunscreen, and beer. Some have faded into the proverbial mists of time.

For instance, in 1990, at Royal Athletic Park in my native Victoria, I saw the Victoria Vistas playing the Vancouver 86ers in the original, now-defunct Canadian Soccer League. In 2009, I flew to London, Ontario to attend the one-off Euro-Can Cup with London Knights alumni battling European pro hockey teams. Where did the time go?

The good news right now is that the summer of 2023 is chock-a-block with great spectator sports events to check out across Canada. From tennis and softball to basketball and skateboarding, there’s something for every taste. So mark your calendars, make your travel plans, and get ready to soak up the action nationwide.

Vancouver: Canada Cup Softball

In the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, the Canada Cup international women’s softball tournament (July 7-16) attracts more than 1,500 athletes to the Softball City park with four championship diamonds.


The competition is world-class. The Canadian national team faces stiff challenges from the likes of Australia, Japan, and the defending champion United States. A rejuvenated Canadian roster for the latest Pan Am Championship included Surrey players like 2001-born shortstop Grace Messmer and 2004-born catcher Madelyn McKinnon. The Canada Cup also has U19 and 16U categories.

Between games, grab a bite at the on-site Bullpen restaurant. Or take the kids to the nearby White Rock Generations Playground or the wooded trails of Ruth Johnson Park.

Halifax: North American Indigenous Games

Taking place on the ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq people, the North American Indigenous Games (July 15-23) have a powerful story to tell.

Three of the 16 featured sports have traditional roots. Accordingly, archery, canoe/kayak, and box lacrosse will each feature special opening ceremonies.


Did you know that the Halifax area’s Mi’kmaq name is Kjipuktuk (“Great Harbour”)? When you’re not cheering for the 5,000-plus athletes from more than 750 Indigenous nations, don’t miss the Games cultural village in the Halifax Common, just steps from the downtown waterfront.

Edmonton: FIBA 3×3 World Tour & Women’s Series

Basketball fans jumped for joy when 3×3 basketball joined the Olympic program, starting with the Tokyo Summer Games. Edmonton is the sole Canadian host city for these FIBA men’s and women’s tournaments (July 28-30), with 2024 Olympic qualifying points at stake.

 

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The Ice District Plaza outside Rogers Place – a familiar site for Edmonton Oilers fans – hosts the playing courts. It’ll be loud and proud with fans rooting for Canadian hoops stars like Steve Sir and Edmonton-born twin sisters Michelle and Katherine Plouffe.

Refuel at the Taste of Edmonton festival in Churchill Square with some 50 local food vendors and free live music.

Winnipeg: World Police & Fire Games

Even if you love Hudson & Rex or Backdraft, you might not visualize police officers and firefighters competing in sports as diverse as badminton, judo, and muster (look it up!). If that’s the case, you owe it to yourself to check out this biennial event. The World Police & Fire Games (July 28-August 6) will draw some 8,500 participants from more than 50 countries worldwide to the Manitoba capital.


From the opening ceremonies at the Canada Life Centre to the closing festivities at The Forks, it’ll be an extravaganza to remember with more than 60 sports. Admission is free for family and friends of competitors.

The Assiniboine Zoo, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the Royal Canadian Mint are great places to tour in your downtime. When you get hungry, check out the diverse international restaurants in Winnipeg’s West End.

Montreal: National Bank Open – Women’s Tennis

Will Romania’s Simona Halep win Canada’s most prestigious women’s tennis tournament for the fourth time? Or will a Canadian WTA tennis star emulate the prowess of Bianca Andreescu and Genie Bouchard and thrill the home fans? So many questions remain to be answered as the National Bank Open (August 4-13) returns to Montreal’s IGA Stadium.

 

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If your favourite player wins with a double bagel, celebrate by scoring classic Montreal bagels at St-Viateur Bagel. To clear your head after a tough result, go for a relaxing hike up the 233-metre-high Mont-Royal.

Toronto: National Bank Open – Men’s Tennis

From Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, this 1881-founded men’s tennis tournament – also known as the Canadian Open – has truly witnessed a galaxy of superstar champions. Sobeys Stadium on Toronto’s York University campus is the place to be this year (August 5-13).

 

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Between big forehands and backhand returns, feed your sports appetite by visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame, shopping at The Sport Gallery, or bowling and watching TV sports at The Ballroom. There are tons of intriguing nearby cafes, clothing stores, and cocktail bars to explore in the Union Station area.

Montreal: Jackalope

Ready to embrace your wild side? Jackalope, Canada’s biggest action sports festival (August 17-20), showcases everything from bouldering and base jumping to skateboarding and BMX events.

 

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The energy of the events is matched by the colourful and resilient community on hand. Food trucks at the Montreal Olympic Park’s Esplanade serve sushi, vegan burritos, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and much more.

More Summer Sports Options

Summer officially begins on June 21, but you can get an early start at events like these:

The Memorial Cup, Canada’s major junior hockey championship, takes place in Kamloops (May 26-June 4).

Love MLB action? Check out a four-game series when the champion Houston Astros visit the Toronto Blue Jays (June 5-8).

Formula 1 fans get their hearts racing at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal (June 16-18).

Then keep the sports excitement going as summer rolls on:

CFL supporters can celebrate the Canada Day weekend in style with an Edmonton Elks-Ottawa Redblacks tilt in our nation’s capital (June 30).

Into cross-border rivalries? Head to BC Place Stadium when the Seattle Sounders confront the Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS soccer action (July 8).

The CP Canadian Open women’s golf tournament attracts fans to Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club (August 21-27).


Header image: National Bank Open Credit Gyles Dias Tennis Canada

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