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North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club celebrates a century of play

The club has kept the good times rolling on the North Shore for 100 years

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.”

Jordan Copp is an intern reporter with the North Shore News. He can be contacted at jordan.copp@hotmail.com.