Researched and compiled by VLBC Honorary Life Member and former webmaster JoAnn Allan
The Beacon Hill Bowling Club was established in Beacon Hill Park in 1909 and was incorporated by the Societies Act on January 13, 1909. In 1914, the name was changed to the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club. It remains one of the longest standing members of the Act and has occupied the same corner at Park Blvd. and Cook St. ever since. Bowling started on June 14, 1909 and we have operated continuously since that time with the Women’s Club, incorporated in 1921, being amalgamated with the Men’s Club in 1981.
On June 14 1909, the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club opened its doors and became the first club in the city. It was then known as the Beacon Hill Lawn Bowling Club but in 1914 changed its name. It has been in continuous operation ever since.
Additional writeup and photos of our 110 Anniversary Celebration here.
History of Lawn Bowling in Beacon Hill Park
In 2009 the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club was inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.
View the YouTube video about the history of the Club:
(In the video, Alexander McKeachie’s wife, Jeannie, is incorrectly identified as Mary.)
Read about the McKeachie Legacy here
Read about our Founders:
William Oliphant, John Arbuthnot, Joseph Austin Sayward,
David Dickson England, George Henry Barnard,
George Lawson Milne, Noah Shakespeare, Dr. Lewis Hall, and other founders, of the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club.
written by Jo Ann Allan.
Read the article about Lawn Bowling and Literature from page 8 in the March 2014 edition of the James Bay Beacon
Can anyone identify these men? We believe the man on the right is William Barbour.
1909 – Membership fees were $10.00 plus $1.00 for a locker. Today, that $10 is equivalent to approximately $220
Friday, Sept. 12, 1919 – The lawn bowling tournament held at Government House on Wednesday afternoon in connection with the “Old English Fair” proved a decided attraction to the many visitors present and the games were followed with interest by many spectators, many of whom were ladies. With such beautiful surroundings, such fine weather, interested onlookers and enthusiastic players, the competition proved a great success and should do much to increase the popularity of the game in the city. The players enjoyed their afternoon’s sport and were pleased to be of assistance to the Navy League in it s worthy cause. Eighteen bowlers participated in the competition. (British Colonist)
1923 – Twenty six rinks took part in an international 4 day tournament. There were visiting skips from England, Duncan, and the mainland. The surplus proceeds of the tournament were turned over to the newly formed Burnside Club, then under construction.
August 6 – 11, 1928 – A tournament, unique in the history of lawn bowling in Canada. Events are open to lawn bowlers from all parts of the world. The tournament will take place on the greens of Victoria, Burnside, and C.P.R. clubs and prizes totaling over $300 in value (2017 value $4372.76 )will be awarded. Included in the entries received so far are representatives from bowling clubs in England, California, Hong Kong, many parts of the Dominion, and every section of British Columbia. (British Colonist July 31, 1928)
September 19, 1928 – Victoria hosts 35 bowlers from New Zealand on the last lap of an Empire tour. They were taken on a tour of Victoria and Butchart Gardens. City Council hosted a dinner at the Hudson’s Bay Dining Room and H. Despard Twigg, MPP, welcomed them on behalf of the province.
August 19, 1936 – The Daily Colonist
Victoria Lawn Bowling Club greens presented an animated as well as a beautiful scene yesterday afternoon when the women bowlers of the city and district gathered for the official presentation of the Butchart Cup to the women of the Victoria Club who had succeeded in overcoming all opposition during the season’s play.
The afternoon opened with a spirited contest on the greens, in which about one hundred women participated and the scene presented was one long to be remembered, the beautiful setting of the club grounds being enlivened by the variegated costumes of the contestants.
At the conclusion of the bowling, those present assembled in front of the clubhouse where the ceremony of presenting the trophy was carried out. Mr. and Mrs. Butchart were introduced by Fred Davey who expressed the appreciation of all at the interest in lawn bowling manifested by the donors of the trophy.
In handing over the cup to Mrs. Fred Mackenzie, president of the Victoria Club, Mr. Butchart congratulated the victors upon their success: also referring to the splendid reputation which Victoria had attained as the fine centre for good sportsmanship. Mrs. Butchart also added her share of appreciation for the pleasure afforded the donors in being present at the annual function, one in which they hoped to participate many times in the future.
In acknowledging the receipt of the trophy as president of the club, Mrs. Mackenzie stated she considered it a very proud moment to have present the honorary president of the club in the person of Mrs. Butchart. Victorians were always proud to be associated with Mr. and Mrs. Butchart and family, those who had done so much, not only for the advancement of the city, but also to set an example in the cultivation of beautiful gardens. In concluding her remarks, Mrs. Mackenzie voiced her pleasure at taking charge of the trophy until better bowlers succeeded in taking it elsewhere.
At the conclusion of the ceremonies, afternoon tea was served by the members of the Victoria Women’s Lawn Bowling Club in the clubrooms.
The Butchart Trophy is competed for annually among the women bowlers of the Greater Victoria District and is considered the premier prize offered to the devotees of the game. It was last played at the Oak Bay club on May 10 1967 and subsequently retired.
June 4, 1939 – The Daily Colonist
Women Lawn Bowlers to Compete in Butchart Cup Series
Opening match of the Butchart Cup women’s series in the Greater Victoria Ladies’ Lawn Bowling Association will open on the Lake Hill greens on Tuesday afternoon at 2:15 with the Canadian Pacific facing Victoria West and the home club entertaining Victoria.
Other league games follow:
June 13 –Burnside vs Victoria West; Victoria vs Lake Hill; at Canadian Pacific greens.
June 20 – Burnside vs Canadian Pacific; Victoria West vs Lake Hill; at Burnside greens.
June 27 – Lake Hill vs Canadian Pacific; Victoria West vs Victoria; at Burnside greens.
July 4 – Lake Hill vs Burnside; Victoria vs Canadian Pacific; at Victoria West greens.
1946 – Champ of Champ Singles tournament inaugurated. It was first played as a 16 end game and later changed to 15 points and a round robin.
August 1947, the club entertained 19 men and 8 women from Ontario who were on a “Goodwill Tour of the Prairie Provinces and BC”. The ladies were given a souvenir spoon.
April 1969 – Diamond Jubilee Year – Mr. E.E. Corbett was among the invited guests to attend. He was the grandson of Wm. Oliphant, the club’s 1st president, and was present at the official club opening in 1909.
1975 – 25 bowlers from Laguna Hills in California visit the club
1978 -On June 21, the club hosts a group from White Rock and on Sept. 25, another group from the Newcastle District LB Association of Australia. VLBC and White Rock had been exchanging several visits over a few years but in 1979, the BC government liquidated the provincially owned out-of-town coach service. There was a lack of privately owned bus facilities so the visits were cancelled.
August 14 1979 – 13 bowlers from the Rossmoor Lawn Bowling Club of Walnut Creek Calif visited. They played a 14 end game, followed by refreshments and then several members took them on a tour of Victoria.
1980 – funds finally approved for building of a new clubhouse after a total of 30 meetings with the city Parks Board, Recreation & Physical Fitness, and New Horizons over a period of 11 years on condition that that the club revise their by-laws so that the ladies club had equal status with the men’s club. Ground breaking ceremony on March 27 and excavation began 3 weeks later. Membership was 143 men and 90 women.
July 1981 – a group from New Zealand visits. VLBC invites other local clubs to meet with them. The club provided lunch and afternoon tea. 2 games were played. The visit was arranged by the VI Ladies Lawn Bowling Association.
October 28, 1981 – Official Opening of the new Clubhouse. Bill Lipsey designed the building and Herman Rebneris was the construction manager. The cost estimate came in at $10,000 over budget so the members kicked in and did some exterior staining, cleaned up the construction site, assembled the lockers. helped to take down the old building, leveled the grounds around the building, and prepared the base for new sidewalks.
1982 – participated in the Beacon Hill Park Centennial celebrations and hosted the festivities for city and provincial officials and visiting dignitaries following the closing ceremonies.
September 1982 – Hosted 20 bowlers from the Barnwood LBC in Gloucester England who were on a west coast tour arranged by the Canadian Lawn Bowling Council.