Feature Story Monday May 2, 2016
Seasons in the Fun
Chilliwack Lawn Bowl Club begins its 94th year
MLA John Martin (C), presents the Chilliwack Lawn Bowling Club with an oversize cheque in the amount of $7500 last Saturday. Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz puts some panache on the ceremonial ball toss.
he oldest sporting facility in Chilliwack, The Chilliwack Lawn Bowling Club (CLBC), celebrated it's 94th season opener Saturday complete with dignitaries and a ceremonial pitch of their famous golden bowl.
The CLBC first threw open their doors in 1922. That was back when US President Warren G. Harding had just clicked a radio on for the first time in the White House, and later making the first live on-air speech. Also, Stalin is in control of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party. And that fall, Howard Carter with Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3,000 years.
All this was going on when the little Chilliwack Lawn Bowling Club threw open it's doors for the first time. Since then, each season opener, city dignitaries have attended. Back then the facility was for men only, but according to the mayor who is knowledgeable of Chilliwack's history said that women protested and were allowed to join the club.
Martin brought with him an oversized cheque in the amount of $7500 from the BC Gov't to help with operational costs.
"Congratulations to the board and everyone who has kept it going since 1922 according to the signage over there it's a wonderful addition to our community providing outdoor recreation leisure opportunities for our population, and I was here not too long ago and had some discussion about some of the challenges the club was going through and did a little bit of digging and arm-twisting and I'm happy to be able to present this cheque," said John Martin, Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Chilliwack riding.
Traditionally, a dignitary throws out the ceremonial golden ball. This year it was Mayor Sharon Gaetz's turn to make the first pitch out onto the finely cared for lawn.
MP Mark Strahl commends the club for their work on keeping the sport going in Chilliwack with MLA John Martin alongside.
"This is amazing," said Gaetz of the beautifully manicured grass.
Prior to the pitch, Gaetz thanked members for their diligent efforts over the years in maintaining the clubhouse and lawns. She commented that lawn bowling in Chilliwack has a particularly proud history, and how the members are all part of that history.
Gaetz referred to former Mayor Harry J. Barber (1912-17) also referred to as the Father of Lawn Bowling in Chilliwack, who promoted the sport heavily.
"In his tradition, he would invite everyone to celebrate the opening of spring and lawn bowl at his place (Stonehurst). And the tradition grew," she explained. "So 1922, this place, the oldest boarding facility in Chilliwack was opened up and only men were allowed to bowl. But ten years later in 1933, women assembled at city hall and from that time on, women were permitted to play. I love it that it's the first time that the mayor's been a woman."
Over time, the club has lost some of its regular players and membership is dwindling. So, they're looking for new members to come on out and give it a shot. There are club bowls available for people who don't have their own.
To the uninitiated, lawn bowling appears to be for crusty old people, but the sport is actually being played by people all across the age spectrum. CLBC hopes to attract some younger players that perhaps elders could mentor in the sport.
"I'm sorry that I don't have the money to match John," quipped Mark Strahl Member of Parliamnet for the Chilliwack-Hope riding.
"Congratulations and thank you to everyone who keeps this going, it's a beautiful facility and keeps people active and keeps people engaged in the community and that's what we want here and across the rest of the country. Best wishes for this season."
All the bowls have a bias on them with a small ring on one side and a larger ring on the other side. When thrown, the bowls tend to curve, similar to curling. The white bowl is call the "jack" and players try to get their bowls as close to it as possible. Club tournaments include; men's, women's, singles, pairs, triples, and mixed.
Drop-ins pay $5/game which consists of 12 ends. Annual memberships are $160 and that covers everything, including the odd hug or two. The season runs from April 26 until the end of October depending on the weather.
Greens are open 7 days per week as follows:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 9:30 am - morning bowling
Tuesday, Thursday: 6:45 pm - evening bowling
Saturday: 10:00 am - morning bowling
Sunday: 2:00 pm - evening bowling
The club is located at 9350 Edwards Street. For more information, call (604) 795-2637.
See more photos below.
Previous Voice coverage
The Best Shot - May 9 2013
Lords of the Lawn - April 28, 2013
Love of the Lawn - May 1, 2014
Lessons and Lunch - April 14, 2014
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