The first official Orienteering meets in Québec were held in the Spring of 1967 on Mount Royal Park and in the Oka district. The maps were in black and white only, and had few details compared to what we see now. The flags still looked similar, although then made of cardboard, and the fun, the attraction and the challenge of the sport were there from the start.
Fourteen meets were organized in that first season by the clubs in the then Québec Orienteering Association: The Montreal Orienteering Club (now defunct), the Viking Ski Club (now Viking Orienteers) and the Canadian Youth Hostels Association (the forerunner of the Ramblers Orienteering Club). The driving forces behind the establishment of Orienteering were Harald Wibye (who was in Montréal from Norway for only a short while), and Patricia and Chris Skene.
The total participation in that first season was 362 persons. During that same season Orienteering was getting underway in Ontario as well, where two meets were held under the organization of Prof. Sass Peepre of the University of Guelph. In the following year (1968) the Québec group was instrumental in founding the Canadian Orienteering Federation and in holding the first Canadian Championships in the Camp Fortune area of Gatineau Park, north of Ottawa-Hull.
We have come a long way since then. Associations and clubs have been organized across Canada in all provinces except Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, together with the Yukon. The sport is active in forty-five countries and a World Championship is held every second year.
Competitors no longer have to bring coloured pencils to colour-in fields and streams, so that they stand out more clearly, or to draw large red arrows on the maps as a reminder of magnetic north! Instead the high quality colour maps we now use are painstakingly produced with emphasis on accuracy and clear interpretation of the terrain. Orienteering maps are drawn by Orienteering cartographers, usually starting from aerial photographs and specially prepared stereo-plotted base maps. Finished scales are generally 1:15,000 or 1:10,000. Government topographic maps are not detailed or accurate enough to use even as base maps. Areas used are usually bounded by roads and normally cover about 5 to 15 square kilometers.
Meet Directors and Course Designers are carefully trained to assure consistency from meet to meet in courses design for the various levels of participants. It is now rare for a flag to be hung at an incorrect location, something more common in the early days.