History of Bowls in Manitoba

Timeline for Lawn Bowling in Manitoba

Lawn bowling came to Canada—to Port Royal, Nova Scotia—in about 1734. The first club in Manitoba was the Civil Service Lawn Bowling Club formed in 1890 and located where the Law Courts now stand. That club was disbanded in 1911.

1904 – 1905 — The St. John’s Lawn Bowling Club is the oldest lawn bowling club in the city of Winnipeg, having been organized around 1904-1905.  The bowling greens were located at the corner of Machray Ave. and Aikens Street, being rented from the St. John’s Holding Company.  Here the club bowled until 1951 when the bowling greens were sold to the Maple Leaf Curling Club.
1907 – The Manitoba Lawn Bowling Association (MLBA) was formed.
1907 – 1917  – The first President was Hon. R. L. Myers, County Court Judge.
1916 —  A group of railroad workers on the east end of Brandon formed a lawn bowling league and called it Wheat City Lawn Bowling Club.  The group approached city officials and were given land at Rideau Park, which has been the home of the Club since 1916.  A women’s club was formed in the early years and the two entities merged in the 1970s.
1917  – The Hon. John T. Haig was elected as President. Existing clubs include Fort Rouge, Assiniboine and St. John’s.

St. John’s Lawn Bowling Club, 28 September, 1918                                                       Source: Foote Collection, Archives of Manitoba

The St. John’s Ladies Afternoon Lawn Bowling Club was formed 1920 with fourteen members, and in 1921 they took part in their first Manitoba Ladies Tournament, and have been well represented in this annual event ever since.  The St. John’s Ladies Evening Lawn Bowling Club was organized in 1921.  This group also took an active part over the years in the Ladies Tournament from its inception until 1951 when it amalgamated with the Men’s Club.  Since then they have operated as a mixed lawn bowling club.  Eventually, due to financial difficulties, St. John’s decided to relinquish the grounds at Machray & Aikins St. and now operate from St. John’s Park.

1924  – The Overdale Bowling Club was established around this time.
1900s Norwood
1900s Norwood 2
1927  – The Norwood Lawn Bowling Club is established as a men’s only club under the leadership of Geordie McIntosh, William Aitken and Harold Jenkins. The first greens were built in the Coronation Park on Taché Avenue, Winnipeg.
1931  – The 1931 Association Yearbook included 19 clubs in what is now Winnipeg. Maps of the club locations show that many were just blocks apart.
Employee clubs included the Civil Service and Canadian Pacific. Some clubs even had subdivisions like the CPR club with one division at the station and the Weston Club across from the shops: white collar and blue collar as it were.
Private clubs were located in various neighbourhoods like Greenwood and Britannia. Church clubs included St. Mathew’s and St. Margaret’s. The Scots and the English were the primary players and promoters of the sport. At the time, the sport would be largely separated by ethnicity and religion (Presbyterian and Anglican).
A small number of clubs were located in city parks like St. John’s Park Club and St. James Park Club which was later renamed Vimy Park. In St. John’s case, there was another St. John’s club a few blocks away, likely on church grounds. Later St James Park was joined by the St. James Club in Bourkevale Park.

Greens locations in Winnipeg at that time were:

  • Assiniboine at 800 Wolsley Ave
  • Broadway at the corner of Wolever and Greenwood Place
  • CPR LBC at Higgins Ave. opposite the CPR depot
  • CNR LBC at Fort Rouge Shops on Glasgow Ave West
  • Deer Lodge LBC on Overdale St in St. James
  • East Kildonan LBC on Helmsdale Ave. In E. Kildonan
  • Greenwood at 1278 Wolseley Ave
  • Norwood at Taché Ave
  • Riverview at Clare Ave 3 blocks east of Osborne
  • St. James Park (Vimy) between Canora and Home Streets
  • St. John’s at the corner of Machray and Aikins
  • St. Johns Park between Redwood and St. Johns
  • St. Margaret’s LBC on Ethelbert at the corner of Westminster
  • St. Pauls on Notre Dame Ave. just west of Sherbrook
  • Sargent Park on the south west corner of Sargent Ave. Park
  • West End on Downing St, close to Sargent Park
  • Weston LBC
  • Britannia LBC at Sargent Park
  • Greenwood LBC at 1278 Wolseley Avenue
  • St. James City at Bourkevale Community Club on Ferry Road

Several of these clubs must have used the same greens as there are clubs listed without greens location. They are Winnipeg Central, St. Matthews, North Winnipeg, Home St., Civil Service, Civic and Canadian Legion.
In Manitoba, the association also included Beachside at Beachside, Dauphin, Minnedosa, Portage La Prairie, Selkirk, Wheat City, Stanley Park and Brandon. In Ontario, there were clubs in Fort Frances and Fort William. In Saskatchewan, there was a club in Regina.

1932  – The Canadian Lawn Bowling Association was formed.
1939  – A bowls game was played on Christmas Day!
1941  – The ladies formed their own division with a club known as the Norwood Coronation Ladies Lawn Bowling Association. Men and women competed separately on different days. As years went by, the men invited the women to join them for social events.
Norwood club members entered into a fifty year lease with the Masonic Lodge that was also located on Taché across from Coronation Park. Norwood members were able to use a portion of the property as a lawn bowling green and could share the Lodge for their clubrooms.
1948  – There were 16 clubs in Winnipeg, two in Brandon, one in Minnedosa and one in Fort William (now Thunder Bay). The same year, a green was opened in Clear Lake.
1954  – On July 16, 17 and 18, the British Bowlers Tour of Canada played games at Manitoba’s Greenwood, River Heights and Assiniboine clubs.
1959 – St. James LBC was established at its present location in Bourkevale Park. The current club succeeds a number of other area clubs including the Overdale Bowling Club and the Legion Green located where Legion #4 stood.
1962  – Manitoba hosted the Major Canadian Championships in 1962, 1966, 1974, 1982, 1993, and 2002. They will be hosting the championships in 2014.
1963  – Tuxedo LBC was formed with Dr. Warren J. Riley as the first President. George Clark, formerly of Great Britain, was the greenskeeper for many years. The club opened with ten members but soon grew when members from the defunct Assiniboine LBC joined Tuxedo LBC.
1965  – The MLBA awarded an Honourary Life Membership (HLM) to Harold H. Tackaberry, an MLBA member. 17 member clubs were part of the MLBA group: Britannia, Eaton, Greenwood, Norwood, River Heights, Riverview, St. James City, St. John’s, Tuxedo, Winnipeg Central, Stanley Park, Brandon, Wheat City Brandon, Strathclair, Minnedosa, Virden, Kenora and Fort William.
1966  – A green was opened in Falcon Lake. Manitoba hosted the Major Canadian Championships.
1972  – The Ladies Council joined the Canadian Lawn Bowling Association.
1974 Norwood’s Clint Bingham was President of the Canadian Lawn Bowling Association (CLBA). Manitoba hosted the Major Canadian Championships.
1976  – Margaret Park LBC opened but has never shown an interest in joining the MLBC.
1977  – At Sargent Park, the old greens and the lawn bowling clubhouse were torn down and new greens opened. Prior to the construction of the new Sargent Park Recreation Centre, Sargent Park Lawn Bowling Club was home to both the Britannia and the Eaton’s clubs.
1982  – Manitoba hosted the Major Canadian Championships.

1985  – At the Norwood club on Taché, men’s and women’s groups joined to form one club with member equality. All play was mixed.
1987  – Manitoba Lawn Bowling Association and Norwood Lawn Bowling Club sought a new location to continue their activities in preparation for leaving the site they shared with the Masonic Lodge.
1991  – The lease with the Masonic Lodge expired and the Taché property was sold. The Manitoba Lawn Bowling Association and Norwood Lawn Bowling Club moved to south St. Vital where they are situated today.
1993  – Manitoba hosted the Major Canadian Championships.
2001  – Manitoba hosted the Mixed in 2001 and the Seniors in 2006. 2002 Manitoba hosted the Major Canadian Championships.
On November 26, 2001, the name Manitoba Lawn Bowling Association (MLBA) was officially changed by an Article of Amendment under the Constitutions Act to Bowls Manitoba Inc. (BMI).
2004  – St. John’s LBC celebrated their 100th anniversary and received the Centennial Organization Award at that time.
2006  – Manitoba hosted the Seniors in 2006.
2007  – Norwood celebrated their 80th anniversary.
2008 – Junior Nationals Championships were held at St. James.
2010 – Blind Bowls Canadian championships were held at Sargent Park
2012  – Weather on March 17 permitted three players to use the Artificial Green.
2014 – Canadian Majors held in Winnipeg. 
2016 — Wheat City celebrated their 100th Anniversary
2017 – National Singles held at Norwood Lawn Bowling Club.
2018 — Norwood celebrated their 90th Anniversary
2019 — St. John’s celebrated their 100th Anniversary

2018 contestants MB
2019 — Bowls Manitoba expanded its indoor locations at Gateway Community Centre and Sargent Tommy Prince Rec Centre to include Linden Ridge LBC at Soul Sanctuary.