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Elmira club offers up Lawn Bowling 101

Camilla and Lorne MacKinnon are ready for a game at Elmira Lawn Bowling Club’s field on Mockingbird Drive. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

With the warm weather finally showing some staying power, it is prime time to kick off the season for the Elmira Lawn Bowling Club.

Coming off last week’s open house event, the club is now offering an introductory five-week Lawn Bowling 101 course that covers the basic rules of the sport. Everyone is welcome to attend.

“I think people would really enjoy the camaraderie and the social aspect of it,” said Lorne MacKinnon, president of the Elmira district. “People of different ages and skill levels could play at the same time and feel like they’re still in an entertaining game.”

The club has a long history in the community, one that dates back to 1928. Over the years, there have been ups and downs in participation, a change of venues – to the current location adjacent to Park Manor PS from the original near the beer store on Wyatt Street – and a few fashions that have come and gone, but the game has stayed the same. That appeal has led to an increase in membership over the past several years, in fact.

“Seeing new people come out to try it, I’m encouraged. I really am,” said club member Susan Brooks at the open house meeting May 23. “For the last three years, we’ve gone to the curling club and promoted it as ‘Curling on Grass’ and that’s how the membership came up – we were down to about 14, I was a little bit worried … and we built it up now, we’re about 35.”


Members were quick to point out the similarities between curling and lawn bowling. In the case of the latter, the objective is to roll biased balls so they stop as close to the smaller ball (“jack” or “kitty”) as possible. Curling also requires players to aim as close to a target as possible – more specifically, roll polished granite stones (rocks) towards the circular target marked on the ice.

While there is some strategy that is required in lawn bowling, such as playing to your team’s strengths, it is a fairly straightforward game to understand and put into practice.

“I would say lawn bowling is simple to learn and play, at the social level,” said MacKinnon. “You could come out any night of the week, enjoy it and not feel incompetent.”

“What gives this game an extra challenge is that the jack isn’t always on the button. It can be either deep or shallow – the person who wins the toss gets to throw that jack has an advantage because they can place it to the strength of their team,” added Brooks. “That’s a strategy that’s not in curling, because the button is always the button.”


The Elmira Lawn Bowling Club is one of some 30 groups to receive funding from the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival committee, which this month divvied up a record $65,000 raised from this year’s event. The club plans to use the money to improve the baseboards within the clubhouse and purchase new bowls. This will be done later in the season, likely in September.

“We wish to thank the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival for their contribution,” said Brooks.

The group also hosts interclub competitions (“jitneys”) with other clubs across the region, including Kitchener Heritage Greens Lawn Bowling Club and Preston Lawn Bowling Club. They are generally hosted bi-monthly on Fridays. Elmira is also looking forward to four tournaments taking place throughout the summer.

Club bowling takes place Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7 p.m., and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Social meetings at the clubhouse follow the game. Anyone looking for more information can visit elmiralawnbowlingclub.org or email randsbrooks@gmail.com.


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