From club archives and other local historical sources
Compiled by David Nagy
A centennial of lawn bowling was celebrated by the Vernon Lawn Bowling Club in 2017.
From its beginning, the Vernon club was known as a pioneer in lawn bowling in British Columbia; it is regarded as the oldest club in the Interior. The original Vernon lawn bowling green was built by the Vernon Amateur Athletic Association, and was the first green constructed in the Interior.
Efforts to create a lawn bowling club began with meetings in 1917. Surveying for the bowling green in Polson Park in was done by Pat Cumming, with grading done by Joe Harwood’s company. Play started in 1919.
The game of lawn bowling had its origins in Roman times. The game was later popularized in England and Scotland. It was a game that was enjoyed at the time of the Spanish Armada and Sir Frances Drake.
Lawn bowling is a sport which can be enjoyed by people of all ages all over the world but for the most part is played by the over-50 crowd. Over the years, the club has invited Vernon high school students to experience the game as part of a sports credit program. People of all ages are welcome to experience the sport.
Regular bowling occurs on alternating days through the week during the bowling season. Tournaments and club competitions are held evenings and on weekends.
The Vernon club is one of several in the Interior at which regular summer tournaments are held. In the club’s very busy centennial year 14 tournaments are planned. The club will also host lawn bowling competitions for the 2017 B.C. 55+ Senior Games. The lawn bowling season will officially kick off in May.
A report in the Vernon News in 1920 stated, “The V.A.A.A. has been strengthened by the addition of another club which will operate under its banner this season. At a well-attended meeting, with D.A. McBride in the chair, the Vernon Lawn Bowling Club was formed and judging from the enthusiasm manifested it will take an important place in the association’s activities this summer,” the report added.
In 1926 the Vernon Amateur Athletic Association ceased to function and the Vernon Bowling Club took control of the green. During the same year, the Interior Lawn Bowling Association was formed and opening tournament held at Revelstoke.
Tournaments continue to be held throughout the Interior every season with Vernon bowlers winning their share of trophies and prizes.
Some historical highlights from the 1930s include a visit by Vancouver and what was called Mainland bowlers in a goodwill tour of the Interior. An early honour earned by the club was the election of Vernon member Arthur B. Godfrey as honorary president of the B.C. Lawn Bowling Association in 1931. Also in 1931 Tom Martin won the Interior of B.C. singles championship.
Also in the 1930s the club hosted 43 South African bowlers on their Dominion-wide tour. The South Africans declared Vernon’s lawn bowling green as among the finest in Canada.
The club expanded its original building in the 1930s, adding a dining room for entertainment and visitors. In the 1946 the clubhouse interior was renovated with the installation of lockers. A ladies’ lounge and new rest rooms were added in 1953.
The Vernon club has undergone other expansions over the course of its history. The last major improvements were in the 1990s when green facilities were upgraded to tournament size.
The present clubhouse was also constructed in the 1990s at a cost of $150,000. Of that amount, $100,000 was contributed by Greater Vernon Parks and Recreation and the rest by the club. It opened for use in 1997.
The club’s original clubhouse, in use since the 1920s – which was also Vernon’s first post office – was returned to near its original location in downtown Vernon following the construction of the new clubhouse.