Honouring Our Heritage
Lawn bowling began in Stouffville in 1894. The Stouffville Men’s Lawn Bowling Club was formed in 1907.
In the 1920s the Dominion Bowlers Association established a dress code, which required players to wear cream slacks, brown shoes, blue blazers, and white shirts. The uniform was topped off with a white felt hat.
Women joined in 1929, and the ladies formed their own association in 1932. League play was mixed in 1968, but the men’s and ladies club retained separate executives until 1984.
In the 1932, the E.M. Still Cup was donated by the Club President Elmer M Still. Mr. Still was manager of the Stouffville Bank of Commerce; he was a Mason, a charter member of the Lions club and elder at the United Church. The E.M. Still Cup was awarded annually for 16 years. The Tribute Tournament, in 2011, was the first time the Still Cup has been competed for since 1947.
Fees to join the Club in 1932 were $5 for in Town members and $3 for country members’. The fee remained at that level until 1952 when it was raised to $6, and $10 in 1963.
In 1933 a motion was passed by the club executive to proceed with a clubhouse” 60′ x 16’ in size, at a cost not to exceed $800”. With the erection of the new clubhouse, in 1934, the old structure was sold to a farmer for use as a chicken coop. The Stouffville Tribune reported “all the modern conveniences would be installed in the clubhouse, and a commodious kitchen would be built so that meals may be served at tournaments.”
At an executive meeting of the men’s club in 1949 a motion was passed that “ the ladies be given a free hand to remodel the clubhouse, as they see fit…at their expense.” Improvements were made to the clubhouse benches, roof and rink boards in the early 1980s with funding received through the federal New Horizons program.
Club Changed with the Times
Occasionally the outside world intruded into the small town world of lawn bowling. In July 1940, the groundskeeper George Saunders, who is credited with the planting of the rose hedge on the green, resigned and was rehired in the spring of 1941 on a six-month contract, “ in the case he is called up for active service.”
Recruitment strategy of yesteryear: In 1953 a motion was passed that “each member must enlist a new member and that failing to do so would be assessed an additional $2 over and above his fees. A prize to be awarded to the member who enlists the most new members by the end of the season.”
Club tournaments were always well attended – in 1942 there were 20 rinks competing in the Men’s doubles and 16 rinks competing for the Old Boys Trophy. The Old Boys Trophy was awarded annually between 1937 and 1947.
Residents have been lawn bowling on the green in the Park since 1894. Yet as we bowl on summer evenings in this peaceful green space in the historical heart of our town, time seems irrelevant. The traditions of sportsmanship, fellowship and fun, which guided past generations of bowlers, many of whom achieved distinction at the provincial and national levels, have continued unchanged by the passage of time.
The Club said “farewell” to the old green in 2011. There was some sadness, as there would be with any passing. This was be especially true for the older members and former members, for whom this place holds so many wonderful memories.
But, as with all endings there are new beginnings, offering the best of both worlds – we stayed in our historic home but with a state of the art lawn bowling facility which now offers our members greater opportunity to excel in the sport and for the club to make its mark in the lawn bowling community.
On that day in August 2011, we said “thank you” to this ground, this grass, this place for all it has been to Stouffville lawn bowlers for 117 years, and look forward to the next 100 years.
The new green was installed in the fall of 2011 and was fully operational in the spring of 2012.