Mann Park Lawn Bowling Club:
This summary, plus pictures and memorabilia were gathered and organized by James Carter, Club Archivist
Bob Cuthbert First Club President
In 1957, two men, Bill McPherson & Percy Cowley met with Jim Hazlett & Walter Hunter to talk about constructing a lawn bowling green on land originally donated in 1947 by Miss Ellen Mann & Miss Emily James at 14560 North Bluff Road. Before the City of White Rock was established in 1957, when the land was part of Surrey, $600.00 had been put in trust for construction of a bowling green. Dr O. C. Norwich donated another $100, so in the Fall of 1957 the idea of the Mann Park Lawn Bowling Club was born. The club is situated at the corner of 16th Avenue [North Bluff Rd] and High Street in the North-West corner of Centennial Park.
During the construction and preparation of the green, The White Rock Lawn Bowling Club generously gave the use of their green and clubhouse to the fledgling club, and even donated $100 to defray costs of the new green.
In 1958 and 1959, Bill McPherson, Percy Cowley, Jim Hazlett, Walter Hunter, Art Hays, Walter Calderbrook, Bob Cuthbert, Don Munro, Allan Hill & Bill McCaffrey put countless hours into building the green, digging down to lay drainage, screening and leveling the soil, picking out all the stones, and constantly screening and leveling the area for grass seed.
In 1959 Mann Park Lawn Bowling Club was officially formed with 84 Charter members. The original constitution was officially filed on 5 January 1960. At the same time a
building committee, chaired by Frank Pearce, was established. In the course of a few months the club house was completed. The original clubhouse was 30’ by 60’ with an unfinished basement and a small tool shed. It was built mainly with volunteer labour, although a professional contractor was hired to oversee most of the work. It had a fully equipped kitchen, toilets, locker rooms and a septic tank disposal system. $10,500 was authorized for building the clubhouse. It was funded by club members taking out $100 shares at 5% interest, and the debt was not fully cleared until 1981.
Lawn bowling started on May 21, 1960, with the official opening on July 30, 1960 with 78 members present, plus a wide variety of guests from other clubs.
There was a $20 membership fee for men, $10 for ladies and a $5 fee for Social members. New members paid a $15 Initiation fee and a $15 membership fee.
1960 to 1970
The years 1960 to 1970 were years of trial and error for the Mann Park Club.. Through the help and dedication of early members, the club continued to grow. The aim was to increase the original membership of 78 to 150, but this was not achieved until the late 1970s. Right from the beginning there was a friendly rivalry with the White Rock LBC, who provided invaluable support and advice as our club grew. Annual competitions in Mixed Fours, Men’s & Ladies triples were begun, and these competitions continue today, although some have changed formats. The green continued to be improved, with expansion from 6 to 8 rinks in 1964 and the addition of ditches in 1969.
Right from the start, the club tried to continue the social aspect throughout the year, not just during the bowling season. In the winter, whist parties, bridge and cribbage were regular events
This picture is the first group picture of the membership, probably taken on opening day of 1963.
The Ladies were an independent entity with their own executive and games program, but were an integral part of the club. The first President of the Ladies’ Division was Mrs. Catherine Williams. In the early years the Ladies looked after the social aspect of the club, while the Men looked after the green and maintenance of the building and grounds.
1971 to 1990
The years 1971 to 1990 continued to be ones of progress for the club. Each year improvements were made to the facilities and green. In 1973 extensive negotiations were made with the City of White Rock to add a second green of 8 rinks, but this agreement fell through with the election of a new Council.
On the night of 1979 there was an extensive fire in the clubhouse resulting in a loss of most of the main floor and its contents, including most of the club records and trophies. However, immediately plans were put in place to repair the clubhouse, and by mid-season the repaired clubhouse was in use. In 1980, the club received a $10,261 grant from the federal government’s New Horizons program to re-equip the clubhouse.
Each President and their executives in office during this time contributed to a share in the progress. Membership increased, finances showed improvement, and everything added up to a very progressive and active club. Presidents of the club during this period were W. B. Scarth, T. S. Carmichael,
P. Cullingworth, Roy Whitaker and Gil Dick. During this period, Mann Park has several very competitive bowlers that did very well in
local and provincial competitions
In 1985 Mann Park did very well in the Summer Games winning the gold medal in several events. The centre photo is the 1985 Ladies Fours Gold Winners: Muriel Lindsay, Gertrude Borkenhagen, Mabel Erickson & Kay Draper. Mann Park also had Canadian champions in Blind Bowling, with Doreen Crosby & John Kemish winning several National medals in the 1980s.
1991 to 2011
By the early 1990s the club had grown to 179 playing members. The annual dues were $60, which were raised in 1994 to $80, and to $100 in 1998.
In 1993, Saturday afternoon teas were started and green mats used for the first time to protect the greens. In 1994 a new entrance to the lower lounge was constructed, and stairs down to the basement replaced.
These pictures show the 1994 renovations in progress.
Membership steadily increased in the 1990s, and many annual special events were started. One of the most popular is FUN DAY held on BC Day, which is the first Monday in August.
In 1994, the theme for FUN DAY was “Hat Day”, and most of the members came with decorated hats
Presidents during the1990s alternated between Ladies and Gentlemen on an annual basis, and included Denis Parker, Margaret Cullingworth, Russ Jones and Gertrud Borkenhagen. By 1993 the membership had increased to 205 members, but by end of decade this had slipped to 173.
During the Winter, the bridge game on Monday afternoons were opened up to the public, and over the years has proved a steady source of income for the club.
This is a good view of the club house and green in 2010. This was the year of the Club’s 50th Anniversary. A number of special events took place to mark the anniversary.
Volunteering has been basic to the life of the bowling club over the last 50 years. Ladies have been very busy over the years: in the kitchen, preparing teas; dinners, banquets, holding sales, keeping the flower garden or taking executive positions within the club.
A volunteer roster is established in the spring and members are expected to sign up for kitchen duty and to help out at club tournaments or inter-club visitations. Over the years the ladies have primarily been responsible for keeping the social aspects of the club running in high gear.
In 1987, the separate men’s and ladies’ divisions were amalgamated at the Provincial level, so in 1989 Mann Park’s Ladies Division was merged with the Men’s division and operated under one executive.
Maintenance on the club house, the green, and the grounds has largely fallen to the men.
Preparation in April for the new bowling season, regular cutting of the green and the associated fertilizing, watering, and repair has mostly done by volunteers over the years, but since 2008 a professional groundskeeper has done much of this work. Coring and sanding of the green in late September before putting the green to bed for the winter is a major volunteer effort. Maintenance of the grounds, benches, and club house are some of the many volunteer opportunities. Regular Friday volunteer maintenance crews, along with seasonal volunteer crews have kept the club in pristine shape.
Coring the green
2000 to 2011
The past few years have seen several improvements to the clubhouse and bowling facilities. In 2005 a new shed was constructed for storage of bowling equipment [rakes, mats, umbrellas, etc]. In 2008 all the backboards and plinth around the green were replaced and a program to improve the green was instituted. New aluminum sun shades were installed on the west side of the greens. 2008 also saw the introduction of new club coloured clothing to complement the ”whites” that had been traditionally wore on formal occasions. In 2010 the kitchen was completely renovated, and in 2011 the two bathrooms were also renovated thanks to a $18,000 grant from the federal government. 2011 also saw the main hall and the equipment shed repainted.
The Mann Park Lawn Bowling Club is governed by its members. General Meetings are held in the Spring and Fall to determine Club policy and procedures. The executive for the following year is elected in the Fall. Here are the members and the head table at the October 2006 General Meeting.
There are a number of levels of competition at Mann Park Lawn Bowling Club.
The afternoon drop in allows members to enter their names in an afternoon draw and play with a team drawn up by the Draw Master. This provides an entertaining and enjoyable game for the participants.
Evening League Play allows member to sign up in fixed teams or teams that will be made up to play regular evening competitions.
Special events and competitions allows members to enter into competitive play in one to four day events.
Vancouver and District play allows teams to enter into competitions hosted by member clubs through out Greater Vancouver.
Provincial competitions involve round robin tournaments to determine the best in the Province. Gold medal winners in the BC Provincials then are eligible to enter the Canadian National Championships.
Mann Park LBC has had some very successful bowlers who have won gold in the BC Provincial Championships and have gone on to success in the Canadian Nationals.