Looking back through Olympic glass: Calgary 1988 to Vancouver 2010

Flashback to Canada, 1988: Brian Mulroney is Prime Minister, the legendary Wayne Gretzky is traded to the L.A. Kings, and the XV Olympic Winter Games kick off in Calgary, Alberta.

(NC)— Flashback to Canada, 1988: Brian Mulroney is Prime Minister, the legendary Wayne Gretzky is traded to the L.A. Kings, and the XV Olympic Winter Games kick off in Calgary, Alberta.

When most Canadians think back on the second Olympic Games ever held on Canadian soil, they remember polar bear mascots Hidy and Howdy, ski jumper Eddie the Eagle’s famous attempts to “fly,” the Jamaican bobsleigh team’s first foray into the sport and those gold rimmed commemorative glasses sold at Petro-Canada stations across the country.

“Even now, twenty years later, people distinctly remember those Olympic glasses. They were a true symbol of the Calgary Olympic Winter Games,” says Steven Keith, director of Olympic and Community Partnerships at Petro-Canada. “The number of glasses sold clearly showed that people felt an enormous amount of Canadian Olympic pride.”

Canadians could purchase a glass decorated with a gold Olympic torch and the Calgary Olympic Winter Games logo – iconic examples of 1980s design. The commemorative glassware campaign eventually became the biggest in Canadian history, with over 50 million glasses sold – equal to two glasses for every person in Canada at that time.

The money from the glassware sales helped create the Petro-Canada Olympic Torch Scholarship Fund, now known as FACE (Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence), which has distributed over $6 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 athletes and coaches over the past twenty years.

“The Olympic glassware was incredibly popular with Canadians,” says Fred Scharf, vice president of sales, service and operation, Petro-Canada. “It’s fantastic when you realize that money raised through the sales of those first glasses has helped so many Canadian athletes since 1988 – it’s a genuine made-in-Canada legacy.”

Fast forward to 2008 – millions of Canadians still have their 1988 glasses. Some are still sitting in the china cabinet in pristine condition, some serving up glasses of juice, while others are collecting paintbrushes in the garage. To add to the collection, Petro-Canada is again celebrating the next Olympic Games on Canadian soil by releasing a new set of commemorative glassware.

A perfect gift for sports fans and collectors of Olympic memorabilia, the newest set of four glasses includes a 16 oz. general purpose glass, a 14 oz. tumbler, a 13 oz. mug and a 20 oz. pilsner style glass.

The first glass will be available starting this winter. Reminiscent of an ice carving, each glass has a clear Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games logo raised on one side, and a unique 2010 Winter Games design element on the other.