The drive back from the Canada Games wasn’t a long one, but it was a happy one for many Nova Scotians.

The province paraded back from the event in Prince Edward Island yesterday with 52 medals, a healthy total that smashed the previous best of 47 set in 2001 in London, Ont.

The province placed fifth in the medal standings, fourth in gold medals with 26, first in medals per capita and fifth in flag points for its best Canada Games showing in history.

“We’re all kind of proud of ourselves,” said Waverley paddler Shaun Fair, who won a pair of gold medals and a bronze in kayak events. “None of us thought we couldn’t do it. Every team really gave it their all right down to the final stretch and it was great. Everyone is happy with how they did.”

Nova Scotia entered the weekend with 34 medals and won 18 on Friday to shatter the record. The canoe-kayak team captured 15 medals on Friday while two came from athletics and one from swimming, capping a 45-medal Week 2.

“It was an outstanding two weeks for Nova Scotia,” said chef de mission Ron O’Flaherty. “We certainly showed the rest of Canada that Nova Scotia can compete at that level.”

Fair and his canoe-kayak teammates were the biggest contributors to the success with a record 31 medals. That beat the paddling team’s previous best of 28 set in 2005 in Regina.

“To be on top of the pile and to be able to maintain that, to me, is a considerable achievement,” said O’Flaherty.

Flaherty said the medal haul “reinforces that hard work and commitment will lead to success.”

“The overall sport community in the province can take pride in the results of the athletes at these Games,” O’Flaherty said. “I think it’s both motivating and satisfying.”