Owen Sound Roselawn Bowling Club

1555 5th Avenue West, Owen Sound, Ontario

Owen Sound Lawn Bowling

Owen Sound’s Bowling Heritage

McLachlan Park and King’s Royal Hotel

When McLachlan Park opened in 1898, one of the many amusements it offered was lawn bowling.  Owen Sounders took the Steamer Mazeppa to Balmy Beach, just north of Owen Sound on the western shore of Georgian Bay, for the day where they could swim and fish, picnic, go to the theatre, and use one of the many sports fields, including the lawn bowling greens. On July 1, 1902 the luxurious King’s Royal Hotel was opened, the park was expanded and it now had a 9-hole golf course, and the crowds came from farther away and stayed longer.

Owen Sound Lawn Bowling Club (St. George’s)

Owen Sounders enjoyed the lawn bowling experience offered at McLachlan Park but wanted their own bowling green.  In April 1903, the Owen Sound lawn tennis club decided to add bowling to their list of activities and by June there were 40 lawn bowling members.  The following April, the Owen Sound Lawn Bowling Club was formed with new grounds, complete with electric lighting and 75 members.  These greens were located on the NE corner of 10th Street and 4th Avenue East behind St. George’s Church.  It became a very popular activity for the professionals and businessmen of the community.  Shortly after, a clubhouse was built were the wives would play bridge as their men folk bowled.  There were no female members of the club.

By 1920, the O.S. Bowling club was flourishing.  With over 100 members and 14 greens it was one of the largest in the province.  Their members hosted a large 3 day tournament each August.

Owen Sound NORTH Bowling Club (Roselawn)

Across the river in Brooke, R. J. Layton and Ed Roseborough had formed a new organization, the Owen Sound North Bowling Club.  Two greens had been built the in the  fall of 1919 on the north side of Layton’s store at 4th Avenue West and 18th Street North.  Of the original 18 members, 4 were female, very progressive for the times!

By 1922, O.S. North had opened a big new green on 5th Avenue West between 15th and 16th Street, where our greens are still located.  And as part of their 3rd Annual tournament, they hosted the first ladies event in the region.

The ladies of the O.S. North club formed their own club in 1928, boasting almost 75 members, with the men crossing the 100 mark.  The following year, the present clubhouse was built on the 5th Avenue West site.

In 1939 O.S. North became O.S. Roselawn Bowling Club.  Some additional property, adjoining the original greens, was acquired in 1948.

St. George’s Destroyed

Some years later, the original east side Owen Sound Bowling Club also changed it’s name, to the St. George’s Lawnbowling Club. Tragedy struck this club on April 22 1998, when vandals set fire to this facility.  The members wished to repare and rebuild but the city wanted the land back and the St. George’s members joined the Roselawn club.  The insurance money they brought with them financed the installation of an irrigation system, and some other upgrades.

Community and Government Support

Over the years, Roselawn has been able to make further upgrades to the greens,  equipment, and clubhouse with the generous support of various organizations. including the Ontario Trillium Foundation, New Horizons for Seniors,  and Community Foundation Grey Bruce.  

A matching grant from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program  in 2016, allowed the club to make repairs to the clubhouse structure and foundation, rewire the area and bring it up to code, update a washroom and make it more accessible, and renovate the office area.

The club received funds from the Community Foundation Grey Bruce in the fall of 2017, which went towards the much needed replacement of the aging clubhouse roof.

Lawn Bowlers at Owen Sound North Bowling Green, 1931 (part of a larger photo)

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