Every four years, Commonwealth Day spectators at Buckingham Palace witness a special ceremony: the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay. The baton, which contains a message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Head of the Commonwealth, then departs on a year-long journey to the next host city of the Commonwealth Games - a journey that began in Canada.
Dating back to the 1890s, the idea of an inter-Empire athletic tournament first saw life as an attraction at the Festival of the Empire in London in 1911. However, it wasn't until 1930 that a standalone event came to be through the efforts of Bobby Robinson, a sports journalist with the Hamilton Spectator.
The first British Empire Games opened on August 16, 1930 at Civic Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario. Over the next week, 400 athletes from 11 nations competed in 59 events. A municipal pool hosted aquatic events and a local school served as the first athletes village. Host nation Canada placed second at the medal table, winning 54 medals (20 of them gold).
The Games grew from these humble origins to feature over 270 events with thousands of competitors. Renamed in 1978, the Commonwealth Games are held every four years. Canada has hosted the Games three times since their inauguration: in Vancouver in 1954, in Edmonton in 1978, and in Victoria in 1994.
The second Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was held in Ottawa in August 1973. Hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the meeting was notable for the unveiling of a new symbol for the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth strives to improve cooperation between nations through its citizens’ education and opportunities to help foster cultural understanding - a mission Canada has been at the forefront of for decades.
The Royal Commonwealth Society, founded in 1868, is a network of individuals of all ages committed to improving the lives and prospects of Commonwealth citizens. Through youth empowerment, education and advocacy, RCS branches across the country promote the value and the values of the Commonwealth through the many youth programs, international fora, educational events, fundraisers and social gatherings. RCS members are interested in the world around them and are devoted to making it better.