The Olympic flame arrived in Canada on Friday, beginning a 45,000-km (28,000-mile) trek that will see it crisscross the country before it arrives at next year' s Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The flame was handed to Canadian Olympic champions Catriona Le May Doan and Simon Whitfield , the first torch bearers, during a ceremony rich in Canadian aboriginal symbolism in the Pacific Coast city of Victoria, British Columbia.
"This is for all of Canada, we're overwhelmed," speedskater Le May Doan said after the event, which drew roughly 5,000 people to the muddy lawn of the British Columbia Legislature and along the relay route through the streets of Victoria.
The flame arrived in Victoria yesterday morning behind schedule after weather delayed its flight from Athens to Canada. It touched down at Victoria International Airport at 8:42 a.m.
It then was brought into the Inner Harbour aboard a First Nations canoe. The flame, kept safe in a miner's lantern for its journey from Greece, was held by a chief.
Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee chief executive John Furlong used the flame from the miner's lantern to light a cauldron outside the legislature.
The landing marked the beginning of the journey that will take the flame across the country and back for the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver on Feb. 12. The relay will visit 1,036 communities and places of interest and 118 aboriginal communities, National Post reports.