The Mission of the 91st Highlanders Athletic Association is to promote youth Athletics in the Golden Horseshoe Region.
First Ontario Centre (Copps Coliseum) – one of Canada’s finest indoor athletic venues – has been host to Canada Cup horld Basketball Championships games among other world-class events. It is currently home to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs.
These facilities include first-class wooden oval track, 145 metres in length, plus superb sightlines for spectators and media representatives.
In 1908, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s), a local militia infantry regiment, which was originally named the 91st Canadian Highlanders, organized and operated the first indoor games. A committee of the Regiment, the 91st Highlanders Athletic Association was formed with its mandate being the organization and operation of the indoor meet. The meet has been held every year since 1908, excepting the war years – making this the oldest continually operating indoor track and field meet in North America.
As years progressed, more and more international athletes competed. In 1925, the banked track was built to accommodate the appearance of Paavo Nurmi, the world’s premier track athlete of the day. In 1986, the meet was moved to the new Copps Coliseum – now First Ontario Centre – from James Street Armoury.
Since moving from the Armoury, the Hamilton Indoor Games have become one of only two international indoor track and field meets in Canada. In 1989, the International Amateur Federation implemented a system by which the top ten indoor track & field meets around the world were circuit with other world class meets in such cities as: Osaka, Stuggart, Stockholm, New York, Los Angeles, Budapest, San Sebastian, Genoa, and Birminghan. Although this circuit is no longer in existence, that designation is an indication of the high regard afforded our meet in international areas. 1991, incidentally, marked the return of Ben Johnson to competition. That year every seat in the arena was sold and over 400 media representatives from all parts of the world attended.
Perhaps more important is the fact that our meet is highly regarded by the athletes. Indeed, a list of past competitors reads like a “who’s who” of the sport: Dan O’Brien, Michael Smith, Jackie Joyner-Kersey, Merlene Ottey, Milt Ottey, Eamonn Coghlan, John Walker, the entire gold medal 4x100m relay team from the 1996 Olympic Games, Marcus O’Sullivan, Ben Johnson, Dwight Stones, Charmaine Crooks, Nouredine Marcelli, and to stretch the memory, Bill Crothers, Bruce Kidd, Abby Hoffman, Laszlo Tabori, Bob Mathias, Percy Williams, Myrtle Cook, Ernestine Russell, Ethel Catherwood, Mary MacDonald, Jesse Owens, Gil Dodds, Mal Whitfield, Phil Edwards, Stella Walsh, Herb McKenley, and Willie Davenport, to name a few.