Christine Nesbitt skated the final 400m in 30.09 seconds
A scintillating skate from world number one Christine Nesbitt in the women's 1,000m secured Canada their third gold of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Nesbitt had the home crowd on their feet as she timed her run to perfection to finish in one minute, 16.56 seconds.
She trailed Annette Gerritsen of the Netherlands going into the final lap, but a storming 400m saw her finish 0.02 seconds ahead of the silver medallist.
Laurine van Riessen of the Netherlands won bronze, 0.16secs behind Nesbitt.
The pressure was on world champion Nesbitt, unbeaten in every World Cup round this season, to make up for Canada's so far disappointing performances in the speed skating events.
She was more than half a second off the pace with one lap to go, but turned on the speed to complete the final 400m in a blistering 30.09 seconds.
Nesbitt, 24, said: "I knew I wasn't skating good. It wasn't coming easy. The first 600m wasn't good. It happened to me before, but in the last leg I kept fighting and I knew it paid off.
"I can't believe it's the Olympics, it doesn't feel real. I was not nervous at all. They were cheering me on and it made a big difference."
Hollywood actor Donald Sutherland and British entrepreneur Richard Branson were among the 7,000 spectators at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
But it took a while for the competitors to sprinkle some stardust on proceedings, with Norway's Hege Bokko, who raced in the second pairing, leading until the 11th round in a time of 1 min 17.42 secs.
Van Riessen and Gerritsen, who made up for a fall in the 500m, livened up the competition before Nesbitt gave the home support plenty to cheer.
Gerritsen said winning silver was a "beautiful" experience even though she lost out on gold by the narrowest of margins.
"It's great. Two days ago it was disappointing," said Gerritsen.
"I have trained so long for this and I have been looking forward to this for such a long time. I thought it has to happen now. It is a dream come true.
"It's only two-hundredths of a second, but I am so happy. Happiness tops disappointment."