776 BC - Olympia, Greece

Dancers dressed as priestesses hand over the Olympic flame during the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic flame in Ancient Olympia, Greece, Thursday, April 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The first ever Olympics (named after the location "Olympia") were held in Greece on the plains of Olympia. The main building in Olympia was the Temple of Zeus where the official award ceremony took place. Women couldn't compete in the Games but they also couldn't come to watch them unless they weren't married yet.


490 BC - Marathon, Greece

The 1896 Olympic marathon. Harilos Vasilakos (middle) finished in second place. (Wikimedia/public domain)

Greek legend has it that the Greek messenger Pheidippides ran all the way from the city of Marathon to Athens to deliver an important message: that the Greeks won the Battle of Marathon against the Persians. This is where the name of the long distance run - the "marathon" - gets its name.


1776 - Olympia, Greece

East side of the Zeus temple in Olympia — northern half to northeastern corner — with excavation crew. In front of the building there are statue bases. (public domain)

Englishman Richard Chandelier made a huge discovery - the site of the original Olympic games in Ancient Greece at Olympia. It wasn’t actually excavated until over 100 years later by a team of German archaeologists.


1894 - Paris, France

Members of the Olympic Committee at the Athens Olympic Games in 1896, Item part of: Archieves of the InternationalOlympic Committee; photography, reproduction.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded in France by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He suggested that the event be every four years and be held in a different city each time.


1896 - Athens, Greece

Runners getting ready to run the 100m course at the 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece. (public domain)

The first Modern Olympic Games included just 9 events. Canadians didn't compete that year, and a Greek athlete won the first marathon race. Winners didn’t receive 3 levels of medals like they do today, instead they each received an olive branch and a silver medal.


1900 - Paris, France

French contestant in the women’s tennis tournament. (From cover page of magazine “La vie au grand air,” No 97, July 22, 1900/public domain)

The 1900 Olympics were held in conjunction with the World’s Fair and lasted for 6 months from May to October. There were no stadiums at this time so the sports were held outside in the River Seine or the Bois de Boulogne. For the first time women competed for medals in lawn tennis and golf. Canada won a gold and a bronze medal!


1904 - St. Louis, U.S.A

Winnipeg Shamrocks lacrosse team, Olympic champions at the St. Louis Games of 1904 (Wikimedia/public domain).

Not too many attended the 1904 Olympics which were held as part of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. It was the first year that Canada sent an official team and they won 4 gold medals and a silver, with the Winnipeg Shamrocks capturing the gold in lacrosse. These were the first Olympics that had 3 levels of medals: gold, silver and bronze.

Figure skating

1908 - London, UK

German skaters Anna Hübler and Heinrich Burger, Summer Olympics 1908 in London (Wikimedia/public domain).

The 1908 Olympics were originally going to be held in Rome, but then Mt. Vesuvius erupted so everything had to be moved. They lasted 6 months and 4 days - the longest Olympics ever! Oddly enough, figure skating was included since the Games went on until October. The closing ceremony was held on Halloween, October 31st. Spooky!


1912 - Stockholm, Sweden

Athlete Jim Thorpe. (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

Canada won its first double gold in swimming at the 1912 Olympics, and took home 6 medals in all. This was the first time that all 5 continents were represented at the Games and electronic timing devices were introduced to better keep track of competitions. There was controversy around athlete Jim Thorpe who won both the pentathlon and decathlon: when the IOC found out he had been getting money to play baseball, they took away his medals as only amateurs could compete in the Olympics. They were returned 30 years after his death.


1914 - France

Sochi Olympic Rings at Olympic Park. (Flickr by Atos licensed CC BY-SA 2.0)

Remember the guy who founded the IOC back in 1894? Well, Pierre de Coubertin also designed the iconic Olympics symbol that we know today - the 5 interlocking coloured rings.


1920 - Antwerp, Belgium

Members of the Winnipeg Falcons hockey team (with an officer and unidentified woman) aboard RMS Grampian, en route to the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium (Wikimedia/public domain)

It was a great year for Canadians at the 1920 Olympics: Saskatchewan's Earl Thompson set a world record with his gold medal-winning 110m hurdles and the Winnipeg Falcons defeated Sweden 12-1 in the debut of ice hockey (yes, a winter sport). The Olympic flag - the Olympic rings on a white background - was also flown for the first time.


1928 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Olympic flame is lit for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games during the Games of 1928 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Flickr by Nationaal Archief licensed public domain)

The Olympic flame was lit for the first time and burned throughout the whole games. The Games saw the debut of women's track-and-field events and Canada's female athletes came home with 2 gold, a silver and a bronze in sprinting, high jump, swimming, and relay.


1932 - Los Angeles, U.S.A.

Doves are released during opening ceremonies of the Tenth Olympiad at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)

The Los Angeles Olympics were held during the Great Depression, the longest and most severe economic downturn in the Western world, and many countries could not afford to send athletes to compete. Even the President had to skip the event that year! But there were some firsts: an Olympic Village was built, a tiered podium was used for the winners, and due to an error the 3,000m steeplechase went on for 3,460m. Oops! But in the end Canada came home with 15 medals.


1936 - Berlin, Germany

American runner Jesse Owens breaks the record in the 200m race and wins gold at the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany. (public domain)

1936 was the year the Olympics come to television - but only locally. The big story of the Games was American runner Jesse Owens who won 4 gold medals. With Canadian inventor of basketball, James Naismith, in the stands Canada only lost one game on their way to a silver medal.


1960 - Rome, Italy

The Basilica of Maxentius on the Forum Romanum in Rome, Italy, where the Olympic wrestling events were held. (National Media Museum UK)

If you've ever been to Rome, you know it's a city with a lot of history and much of the ruins, like the Collosseum, remain to this day. Many of the sporting events took place in the ancient ruins and they managed to keep them intact. For the first time ever, people all over the world (not just locally) could watch the Olympics on their televisions.


1976 - Montreal, Canada

Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (Flickr by abdallah licensed CC BY 2.0)

The Summer Olympics are held for the first time in Canada in locations around Montreal, Quebec. Many of the buildings are still in use today. Nadia Comaneci of Romania won the women's all-around gymnastics title, and in the uneven-bars event she earned the first perfect score of 10.00 in Olympic gymnastics competition. Canada didn't win any gold medals in their home country, but they did pick up 5 silver and 6 bronze.


1992 - Barcelona, Spain

Canadian rower Silken Laumann raises her arm in gesture as she leaves the winners area with her gold medal for the Olympic women's single scull competition (CP Photo/1992/stf-Ron Poling)

These games were all about the United States national basketball team, the so-called "Dream Team" which completely dominated its competition. Canada came home with 18 medals, 6 of which were gold! Canada's star athletes included Silken Laumann in sculling, synchronized swimmer Sylvie Frechette, and swimmer Mark Tewksbury who set an Olympic record.


2008 - Beijing, China

Usain Bolt after his victory and world record in the 100m at the bird's nest, during 2008 Beijing Olympics (Wikimedia/Jmex60/CC BY-SA 3.0)

These were the Olympics of firsts: 43 world records and 132 Olympic records were broken. American swimmer Michael Phelps set the record for the most gold medals (8) won in any Olympics. Sprinter Usain Bolt won 6 gold medals in sprint and hurdles. Canada came home with 18 medals, including the first individual equestrian gold medal.


2012 - London, UK

Wojdan Shaherkani, the first female competitor from Saudi Arabia, at the 2012 London Olympics (Flickr by Martin Hesketh licensed CC BY 2.0)

For the first time in history, women competed from every country including Saudi Arabia, which brought along a 16-year-old judo competitor who became the first female from that country to compete in the Olympics. Canada's Rosie MacLenna brought home a gold in trampoline as part of the 18 total medals.