GO Rowing & Paddling Association of Canada (GO) existed from 1996 to 2014 "to engage and participate in activities and projects that support, promote, and advance rowing and paddling sports in Canada."
The history of GO is one of extraordinary generosity and passion for the sports of rowing and paddling. An alignment of resources combined with hard work, unique skills and dedication facilitated thousands of on-water experiences for people across Canada, particularly in British Columbia, where GO was based and where its influence was strongest. GO has now entrusted this legacy to new organizations as it completes the transfer of its remaining water sport facilities to new organizations. While GO’s leadership in rowing and paddling is coming to an end, new agencies have assumed stewardship roles to ensure that GO’s 18 years of commitment will continue for many years to come.
GO’s work began in December 1996 with the creation of Foundation 2000Plus, a not-for-profit Amateur Athletic Association. This original foundation was formed through the generous support of Peter and Marilyn Copland in order to build the sports of rowing and paddling in Canada. The foundation provided the funds to open and manage rowing & paddling centres nationwide, and operated many successful, large-scale rowing and paddling programs and events.
In 2002 we changed our name to the GO Rowing and Paddling Association of Canada (GO) to better reflect our mandate and activities. GO’s mission and principal focus was to develop new programs and facilities in communities across the country. Over the past 18 years, through funding from our benefactors and self generated revenues, we invested over $25 million into rowing and paddling sports. GO established rowing and paddling centres in Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Port Moody, Fort Langley, Richmond, Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, Winnipeg and Fredricton. GO also provided resources to assist new clubs in many other communities, in addition to operating large-scale youth and adult rowing regattas and outrigger and dragon boat events. We also initiated and acted as the Provincial Sport Association for Dragon Boating for the BC Seniors Games. Dragon boating quickly became the largest participation sport in the Games. GO also worked in partnership with Dynamic Mutual Funds to run no-cost nationwide rowing programs for youth at risk.
Approximately 10,000 people participated in GO programs, events or activities on an annual basis, ranging from single-sessions to full-year intensive training programs. To accommodate so many people across many communities, GO acquired fleets of boats and related equipment – but more importantly, a dedicated network of staff and volunteers. GO’s staff team included administrators, centre managers, coaches, summer students, equipment repair people and kayak instructors, and thousands of volunteers who helped with events and programs. Without the passion and contributions of this ever-evolving team we could not have provides so many opportunities over almost two decades.
We believe that sports play a signal role in society, and that they should be accessible to every Canadian. We’re proud to have created and stewarded accessible programs for youth and adults from introductory to advanced, and for providing the training foundations for competitors at local, national and international levels. GO programs have fostered and supported the goals of countless athletes and their coaches, many of whom have represented Canada at world championship and Olympic levels. International success for the very few has been a positive byproduct of sharing rowing and paddling sports with thousands of people every year.
Most of the centres that GO has opened or supported since 1996 have had their operations successfully transferred to other societies, clubs or educational institutions over the years. Examples include the centre in Richmond, which is run by UBC, Port Moody which is now operated by Inlet Rowing Club and most recently The Fairway Gorge Paddling Club Society in Victoria, which will ensure that the Gorge Paddling Centre continues to offer broad-based community access to paddling programs and events for members of the public. Also, the newly formed Vernon Rowing and Dragon Boat Club will be carrying on the activities at Swan Lake.
GO will be transferring the balance of its programs to other societies and clubs over the coming months. Upon the successful transfer of these responsibilities, the GO Rowing & Paddling Association of Canada will take its last stroke and close the organization. We have made careful efforts to put our operations into the hands of organizations that will continue to ensure community access to rowing and paddling sports and we’re confident in their success.
It has been an astonishing journey. Stewarding the passion and hard work of thousands of athletes and volunteers of all ages and abilities has also been humbling. The personal victories of our participants over the years have strengthened the communities in which we were privileged to have an influence, and we believe that these victories, large and small, will contribute meaning and value to Canadians for many years to come.