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Teacher and author Joy Forbes in her Montreal '76 Olympic jacket. Photo: Lucy Martin
Teacher and author Joy Forbes in her Montreal '76 Olympic jacket. Photo: Lucy Martin

An Ottawa teacher and author's memories of the Montreal '76 games

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Athletes star at the Olympic Games; after years of training, it's their time to shine. But it also takes a small army of volunteers and workers to make each Olympics a reality. Thousands of behind-the-scenes participants come away with memorable experiences too.
Joy Forbes grew up in Quebec City and Montreal. She was a student at Queen's University in Kingston when the sailing events of the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics were held in that lake-shore town. Forbes spoke German and Spanish, on top of French and English. So she had no trouble landing a job for those Games.

Forbes went on to a teaching career in Ottawa, with a strong interest in one room school houses. She was speaking about her book on that topic when Lucy Martin noticed Forbes was wearing a jacket inscribed with Montreal '76, and asked her about her own Olympic connection.

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Pin trading is a sport all its own - this came from Russians participating in the sailing events held in Kingston, Ontario in the first Olympic Games hosted by Canada. Photo: Lucy Martin
Pin trading is a sport all its own - this came from Russians participating in the sailing events held in Kingston, Ontario in the first Olympic Games hosted by Canada. Photo: Lucy Martin
"I was asked to be on the main reception area in Kingston, where they had the sailing Olympics. And I was a student at Queen's University. The Olympic Village was where the boy's residences were, and you'd see sharpshooters walking around on the tops of these boy's residences. But it was pretty exciting to meet all these Olympians, and Portsmouth Harbour was the Olympic Village. It was amazing to be a part of that, so I wear this jacket with pride. I even have a Russian pin on here from one of the Russian sailors I met, and of course the stylized Olympic rings with the - it looks like an 'm' - that was the logo. We used to trade those pins."

Forbes said it meant a lot for Montreal and Canada to host the Olympics. "Well, that was the first time they'd hosted it, so, yes, it was pretty exciting. And I know it was really the first time that they were worried about the security, because of what had happened in Munich four years earlier. But it was a very exciting time."

She said she's "glued" to the Sochi Games. "I just think – I feel so proud every time I hear that Canadian anthem. It's very, very emotional, and very exciting. I feel so proud of all the Canadians trying so hard."

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