The History of Bowling

Bowling in its primitive form, is over 7000 years old. Sir Flinders Petrie, a professor of Egyptology at the University of London, found the origins of bowling, a complete set of pins and balls, in a large tomb in Egypt dating back to 5200 BC.

The American form of bowling, TENPIN BOWLING (circa 1840) came to Canada in the 1880's. In 1905, a billiard academy owner, Thomas F. (Tommy) Ryan decided to install Canada's first "regulation" tenpin lanes, a 10 lane setup, in the second storey of the Boisseau Building (over top of Ryrie-Birks Jewellers) in downtown Toronto, Ontario.

Ryan's establishment, known as the Toronto Bowling Club, resembled a southern plantation, with potted palm trees, ceiling fans, string orchestra, piano and an immense lunch counter. Ryan insisted that his establisment was a very elite and private club, catering only to the well-to-do, carriage trade of Toronto society.

Customer complaints about the size and weight of the tenpin bowling balls and the game being far too strenuous, led Ryan to experiment. He had his father whittle down five of the larger tenpins on a lathe, to approximately 3/4 of their original size. He then spaced five of these pins equally on the 36" (91cm) tenpin triangle. Ryan took a hand sized hard rubber ball (approximately 5" (12.7cm) in diameter and 3 1/2 lbs. (1.6kg) in weight) and rolled the ball down the tenpin lane at the five pins.

Thus in 1909, the original sport of 5-Pin Bowling was born. Even though many changes have taken place through the years, the original concept remains and is enjoyed in hundreds of modern bowling centres by millions of Canadians each year. In fact, in a recent poll by CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) asking Canadians to vote for the greatest Canadian inventions of all time, Tommy Ryan's invention placed 4th, beating out other Canadian inventions of great import such as the Canadarm, Basketball and the Electron Microscope, among many others. Truly a testament to the impact Mr. Ryan and his great game have had on the Canadian people.

Chronological History of Five Pin Bowling

1909

Thomas F. (Tommy) Ryan invents 5 Pin Bowling in Toronto, Ontario.
Original Pin Count is established as "4-2-1-3-5".

1910

First 5 Pin Bowling League was formed at Ryan's Toronto Bowling Club.

1912

Rubber band was added to the Pins.

1918

Alfred Shrubb of Toronto bowls first (recognized) 400 game.

1921

First perfect "450" game bowled by Bill Bromfield in Toronto, Ontario.

1921

First Ladies' 5 Pin Bowling League started by Marion Dibble in Toronto, Ontario.

1922

First inter-city match between Toronto and Montreal using a telephone hook-up.

1923

Winnipeg's Charles Gibson introduces 5 Pin Bowling to Western Canada.

1927

First 5 Pin Bowling organization "Canadian Bowling Association" (CBA)
formed in Toronto, Ontario. T.J. (Tommy) Simpson elected first President.

1928

First "Official 5 Pin Rule Book" printed by the C.B.A.

1930

Western Canada adopts own scoring system. Pin Values equal 1-4-5-3-2.

1932

First sanctioned perfect "450" game bowled by Joe Heenan of Toronto, Ontario.

1935

Blind bowlers' leagues introduced in Western Canada.

1935

C.B.A. creates Ladies Section. Mabel MacDowell elected first President.

1938

N. Berry of Winnipeg records first perfect "450" game under
Western Canada scoring system

1940

Tillie Hosken of Toronto becomes first female bowler to roll a perfect "450" game.

1944

Western Canada 5 Pin Bowling Association (WCFBA) was formed in Regina,
Saskatchewan. Bill Hawrylak elected first president.

1952

National 5 Pin Count (2-3-5-3-2) introduced by Charlie Hill (President of the CBA)
and adopted only by Western Canada.

1953

First Canadian Championship (East vs. West) conducted in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Deaf bowler, Tommy Mallon wins Men's Singles. Regina wins Men's Team event.

1953

C.B.A. changes name to Ontario Bowling Council.

1957

First youth organization formed, Canadian Junior Bowling Congress.

1957

First automatic pinsetting machine introduced.

1958

First "Pepsi-Cola High School Championships" held in Alberta.

1959

Entire country uses National 5 Pin Count as Eastern Canada adopts the
"2-3-5-3-2" system.

1959

5 Pin Bowling introduced to international markets in British West Indies
(Bahamas) and Scotland.

1961

Founding father Tommy Ryan passes away on Nov. 19th.

1962

Lane Certification and Tournament Sanctioning introduced.

1963

Bowling Proprietors' Association of Canada(Bowl Canada) formed.

1963

Bowl Canada introducesYouth Bowling Council (YBC)to replace the defunct
Canadian Junior Bowling Congress.

1963

First automatic string pinsetter introduced.

1964

First provincial Master Bowlers' Association formed in Ontario.

1964

Canadian Bowling Congress receives charter from federal government.

1965

Bowlers' Association of Canada formed.

1965

Bowling pin measurements standardized.

1965

Carling O'Keefe Breweries obtained as Canadian Championships sponsor.

1967

Counter (Blow) Pin abolished by C.B.C.

1968

Eastern Canada adopts the no-counter pin ruling but Western Canada disagrees
and opts out of C.B.C. and Canadian Championships from 1969 to 1971.

1970

Master Bowlers' Association of Canada formed.

1971

Tommy Ryan inducted posthumously into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

1971

Western Canada agrees to abolish Counter Pin rule.

1972

Western Canada 5 Pin Bowling Association (WCFBA) disbands in favour of
Provincial Associations.

1972

Canadian 5 Pin Bowling Championships restored.

1972

Bowl CanadaintroducesNational Golden Age Bowlers' Club.

1975

Government survey reveals 680,000 bowlers in 20,000 leagues across Canada.
102 Local (Zone) Associations with 105,000 members affiliated with the C.B.C.

1976

5 Pin Bowling "Standards & Specifications" Committee formed.

1976

National 5 Pin Bowling "Instruction & Coaching" Program introduced by the
Master Bowlers' Association of Canada.

1977

5 Pin Bowling included in Ontario Winter Games for the first time.

1978

Canadian Bowling Congress and Bowlers' Association of Canada dissolve to form
new national body, theCanadian 5 Pin Bowlers' Association (C5PBA).

1980

First International Bowling Cup competition held in Manila, Philippines.
Canada & Philippines participate.

1983

5 Pin Bowling participates in Canada Winter Games in Chicoutimi, Quebec.

1983

Hiram Walker Distilleries Ltd. is welcomed as the new national sponsor of the
Hiram Walker "Special Old" High-Low Doubles and
League Executive Championships.

1983

2nd International Bowling Cup held in Toronto, Ontario with Canada,
Philippines, Argentina and the United States represented.

1984

5 Pin Bowling returns to national television on CBC's Championship 5 Pin Bowling.

1984

5 Pin Bowling celebrates its 75th birthday.

1986

Canadian 5 Pin Bowlers' Associationgrows to 100 Local (Zone) Associations
with 165,000 affiliated members.

1987

National 5 Pin Bowler Ranking introduced by the C5PBA.

1990

Rules changed to allow the use of personal bowling balls.

1995

Government statistics report 521,000 Canadians participate regularly in
5 Pin Bowling (37% male vs. 63% female).

2005

National Youth Bowling Council changes it's name toYouth Bowling Canada

2006

CBC's poll of the Canadian Public places 5 Pin bowling as the
4th Greatest Canadian Invention of All Time.

2009

5 Pin bowling celebrates it's Centennial Anniversary and 100 years of
excellence in Canadian Sport.

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