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St. John’s Keeps Rolling – One Bowl at a Time – Our Communities

St. John’s Keeps Rolling – One Bowl at a Time – Our Communities
St. John’s Keeps Rolling – One Bowl at a Time – Our Communities

St. John’s

The years pass, but this Winnipeg bowling club continues to exist.

In Manitoba, the lawn bowling season begins in May and runs through September. This provides a convenient time for various competitions, championships and workshops for those already involved or wanting to get involved in the sport.

One of the long-standing driving forces behind making lawn bowling accessible to everyone, and not just the older demographic with whom the sport is most often associated, has been the St. John’s Lawn Bowling Club, located in St. John’s Park on Main Street, across from Mountain Avenue.

Provided photo

(From left) Elaine Hardy, Caroline Tuan, Peggy Latimer and Doreen Lloyd are pictured at St John’s Lawn Bowling Club earlier this year. The club, which is over 100 years old and is based at 1199, is celebrating successes and losses this year.

The club was founded in 1904 and became a mixed club in 1951. Since then it has remained a welcoming and accessible place for anyone who wants to play.

“It’s a night out, to have fun and socialize,” said Doreen Lloyd, a member of the club’s executive committee.

Lloyd is relatively new to the sport, and the club was great at making her feel welcome and safe when she first started, she said.

“We try to follow the rules, but we’re not really strict about it… It’s more for fun.”

Some members play competitively in other leagues, she said, but come back to St. John’s for the great atmosphere.

Over the past year, the club has actively welcomed children, most notably the Rozmai Ukrainian Dancers, who last August used the club and its sport to create safe bonds between younger newcomers and seasoned Winnipeggers.

St. John’s isn’t the largest club in town, but the club strives to maintain an encouraging and welcoming atmosphere, even without the continued enthusiasm of key player and veteran bowling promoter Ben Hochman.

Hochman passed away last October after being diagnosed with cancer. He had been involved in sports for most of his life, either playing or coaching.

To celebrate Hochman’s influence on the club and within the sport, St. John’s hosts a recreational bocce competition in August, open to friends and club members.

“Ben was instrumental in (helping people) get started with lawn bowling,” Lloyd said. “That’s what he always did for us … (this will) be kind of something that he would do for us, in his honor.”

In the last few years of his life, Hochman has been advocating for the larger age group. Since last year, many of the new faces at the club are younger players. The youngest are in their 20s.

File photo by Emma Honeybun

Ben Hochman (far left) passed away last October. In recent years he has worked to introduce the sport of lawn bowling to people of all ages.

“(A member), who is new to us, Ben has really gotten him into the sport,” Lloyd said. “He’s in his mid-30s, (and) he’s become a really good bowler. It carries on Ben’s legacy in a way.”

Hochman’s portrait will also be hung in the clubhouse, Lloyd added. A plaque is also in the works for a public bench in St. John’s Park.

The day in August will also be dedicated to the memory of Phyllis Gridley, a former club president who passed away in December. A photo of the clubhouse and a plaque on the bench will also be installed in her honor.

St. John’s also hosts a Fours Tournament on July 31, open to up to 10 teams, with members aged 65 and over, from the city and beyond. The invitation also extends to clubs from as far away as Brandon, Man., or Gimli, Man.

When this article went to press, registration had just opened, Lloyd said.

In addition to the special events, the club will be open as usual: Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7pm and Tuesday and Friday mornings at 10am.

For more information about tournament registration or St. John’s in general, visit bowlsmanitoba.com or contact club president Caroline Tuan, at [email protected]

Emma Honey Bun

Emma Honeybun is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She graduated from RRC Polytech’s creative communications program in 2023, with a concentration in journalism. Email her at [email protected]

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