By Adam Feibel –
The Highland Park Lawn Bowling Club might be a familiar sight to Westboro residents, but most people probably don’t know the club has been around for twice as long as Tim Hortons.
The history of the club extends back to 1914, when a group of men from the Village of Westboro and the Township of Nepean leased space from a farmer named John E. Cole to set up a bowling green. In 1941, Cole put the land up for sale and the members collectively bought it.
Members will be celebrating the club’s centennial on July 5. Hoping to attract some more regulars, they hosted an open house on Saturday, May 17 and again on Tuesday, May 20. The latter marked the first time the club held a second one, in the evening. Club president Jean Higgins said that by holding an evening event they hoped to draw a different crowd. They’re especially eager to introduce newcomers to the game.
The premise of the sport is fairly straightforward. Lawn bowling combines the technique of bowling with the discipline of curling. Roll the bowls along the green, try to get them close to the mark, and keep them there. Overall, it’s a fun, relaxing, and surprisingly challenging game for a summer afternoon.
Blaine Phillips of Golden Avenue has been a club member for two years, having gotten his start in lawn bowling mostly out of convenience. “I live close to here so it was very handy for me,” he says. “I like to play games, so I came over and tried it.”
Bob Thomson, who could hit the green from his nearby condo on Dominion Avenue (though he certainly shouldn’t try), jokes that when he joined the club, “the average age dropped five years.” He notes that although lawn bowling is widely perceived as being “an old person’s game,” many who take part are actually middle aged or younger, especially those on the competitive side.
Colleen Corrigan tried her hand at the game after it piqued her curiosity upon regularly driving by and seeing people playing on her way to and from home on Castle Hill Crescent. “It’s fun. It’s not as easy as it looks,” she says. “For someone who’s never done it before, I did OK.” She also remarks on the social aspect of the club, since members are placed randomly on teams each game, making it “a great way to meet people.”
Westboro’s Colleen Lowrie, left, and Fawkes Conibear tried out lawn bowling for the first time at the club’s open house May 17. “I’m easily frustrated, so I was frustrated, but I know I’ll improve if I practice, which I intend to,” says Lowrie. Conibear says she enjoys it because it reminds her of bocce and curling. “It’s a lot of muscle memory,” says Conibear. “Once I started throwing the ball, it felt good.”