The sport of lawn bowls

When and where the sport of lawn bowls began is a matter of speculation, but it was brought to Canada in the 19th Century by British garrison officers.  The first bowling green in Canada was constructed on the garrison grounds at Annapolis Royal, NS.

Lawn bowls is a sport for all ages.  It can be played from childhood into the nineties, but like most sports, the elite players are usually in their twenties or early thirties, when hand-eye coordination and balance are at their best.  That lawn bowls is something only for seniors is a myth, which is holding back its development in Canada, unlike in other countries such as Australia, New Zealand or Great Britain, where its popularity equals that of curling here.

Lawn bowls is also a social sport, being played with teams of four, three or two, as well as singles.  In the team formats, communication and co-operation between members is a vital part of winning, and contributes a lot to the enjoyment of the game.

Lawn bowls is an inexpensive sport.  Flat-soled shoes such as running shoes (i.e., no heels) are to be worn to prevent damage to the greens.  A set of four bowls is required, although, beginning bowlers are encouraged to use club bowls for the first year, in order to determine which size is most suitable.  A new set of bowls and carrying bag can range from $400 to about $600, however, a good used set can be found and purchased.  Accessories such as measuring tape, chalk and holder, score card holder, polishing sock can be bought for less than $100 total.

For club bowling, any proper sport dress is acceptable.  Whites (pants/shorts and shirt) were the normal dress for most tournament and championship play, now a days, you will find coloured clothing with all team members similarly dressed.


“British bowlers (HS85-10-17553)” by Galbraith Photograph Company – This image is part of the Canadian Copyright Collection held by the British Library, and has been digitised as part of the “Picturing Canada” project. 





Another famous story in lawn bowling is about Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Armada. On July 19, 1588, Drake was playing a game of bowls at Plymouth Hoe when he was notified that the Spanish Armada had been sighted. The tale says his response was, “There is plenty of time to win the game and thrash the Spaniards too.” He then proceeded to finish his match and the British Navy soundly defeated the Armada. There is a lot of controversy as to whether this event actually took place.