One of the oldest Sports Clubs in Canada
North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club celebrates a century of play
The opportunity to celebrate turning 100 years old is a rare occurrence. Thriving for a century was certainly a cause for celebration for the North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club during a recent Sunday afternoon gathering on the greens.
On April 30, the club commemorated its centennial year with a day of festivities at their new, almost-completed club house at 249 24th St. East.
Deep Cove Big Band provided music as long-time members and newcomers alike had a chance to meet and share experiences.
“In 2013, when I joined, we had the nationals here, which is a pretty big thing for us. It was an exciting time,” said John Sawyer, a member of the club who introduced his daughter to the game in the last few years.
A club that has been around for 100 years is bound to be full of family memories. Kimberly Sawyer, John’s daughter, is newer to the club, and fondly remembers her first day.
“On June 4, 2018, was what’s called National Bowls Day. And so, my father lured me here for a free hot dog and to come out and try lawn bowling,” she said.
Sunday’s celebration also featured a vintage car parade that conveyed some of the invited dignitaries around the club perimeter.
The VIP list included City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan, North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson, MLAs Bowinn Ma and Susie Chant, and many others.
“We were looking for something to do outdoors because we weren’t comfortable indoors due to COVID,” said Shirley Ko, a club member who joined last year. “We joined because a lot of the members here are really encouraging, and we just found it to be so warming and people are so nice.”
The club is a place for players of various levels of skill and interest to join, from casual players to the more competitive. Caroline Hansen, who joined last year as a novice, said her first year had many highlights.
“I won the novice division, a Vancouver and district title. And I also went to several tournaments with older skips who took me along and I also met my partner at lawn bowling last year and just had just a wonderful time all around,” said Hansen.
Len Corben, longtime sports columnist at the North Shore Outlook, was also in attendance. Although not a member, Corben’s family has deep ties to the club and to the community.
“I lived right on the street. Right facing the tennis courts and then the lawn bowling green, so I was very I was involved with the lawn bowling club because my grandfather was president in 1933,” he said.
Corben’s mother also was president of the women’s section of the club from 1966 to 1967.
Despite not being a member, Corben played at the club many times throughout the years,
“There’s a challenge that they used to run that would have different organizations, and the Outlook would submit a team and I would be on their team – they did that for several years.” Corben said.
Dignitaries were invited to speak, and awards were given to the club in recognition of their achievement by groups including Bowls BC as well as the Vancouver & District Bowls Association.
As the opening ceremonies ended, the commemorative first bowl was tossed by Buchanan, Ma, and Chant, along with North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club president Bruce Murray.
With their centennial season underway, the club is now preparing for the next 100 years of North Vancouver lawn bowling and is always ready to welcome new players.
“I got involved, I felt at home, we had lessons, and I just remained for 10 years now,” said John Sawyer. “And then my wife joined, so now we have three Sawyers.”
North Vancouver, B.C.
2023 marks the centenary and a year of public celebration for the North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club, proving that in an ever-changing world, the community and sport of lawn bowling remain a steady force on the North Shore.
“Few North Shore non-profits can say they’ve reached this milestone,” says Bruce Murray, NVLBC president. “We want to share this proud moment with the greater community of which we’ve been an integral part these past 100 years.”
Throughout 2023, the community is invited to several marquee events:
Feb 8, History in the Making: On this day, a century ago, the club formed officially. For public viewing, a banner and permanent story boards depicting the club’s history will be mounted around its world class greens.
April 30, Opening Day: Flag raising with public and dignitaries to celebrate the opening of the club’s 100th season.
June 3, Community Open House: An open invitation to see club facilities and bowl on National Bowls Day.
Sept 8, Club’s first game: Gala dinner, 1920’s dress, vintage vehicles and music across the decades. Throughout it all there will be plenty of bowling and opportunity for the public to come try this sport.
“It’s an easy to pick up social sport that is for everyone,” says Pat McKenzie, 1st Vice President and Centennial Chair. “It’s active, affordable, and as social or competitive as you want.”
The club offers a learn to bowl program, coaching at all levels, as well as social and competitive inter and intra club league and district-wide tournaments. There is evening, day and weekend bowling, as well as, winter social programs. In 2022, the club registered 271 members.
“As a community oriented, volunteer run sport club, it’s our members, past and present, who have kept and keep this club active and relevant,” adds Murray
Club members volunteer to support all events and programs. To date, through its Canada Day tournament, $150,000 has been raised for the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation. The club offers its greens for private and corporate fun and fundraising events, as well as, school programs.
The NVLBC is located on World Bowls certified artificial greens at 24th St East and St. Andrew’s Avenue in the City of North Vancouver. The club left its original, long-time home at 23rd and Lonsdale in 2020. With the support of the City of North Vancouver, new greens were built and a new club house is under construction.
For more information about the club’s centennial events, its history, when and how to play go to www.nvlbc.com or check out Facebook at www.facebook.com/nvlbc.