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Our History

Lawrie and David Scott had a dream.  They were members of the Markham Lawn Bowling Club prior to their arrival in Muskoka in 2005, and were looking for a facility where they could continue this enjoyable sport.

In 2009, Lawrie and David got the ball rolling in Muskoka.  They approached the Town of Bracebridge regarding building a lawn bowling green and clubhouse.  A Staff Report from the Parkland, Trails & Recreation Committee found that a lawn bowling club would be well aligned with the community-based strategic plan objectives, but recommended that more support and interest must be shown from the community before the Town chould consider this facility.

The Scotts put up notices around Bracebridge in order to gauge local interest, and in March 2010 the Bracebridge Examiner published an excellent article outlining their dream.  They quickly collected names of almost 200 interested parties.

In 2011, the club became incorporated as a non-profit, started a fundraising campaign, and researched grants.  $20,000 was raised, mostly in pledges.  It appeared that the new club wasn’t eligible for any grants, as the agencies would not support new construction. Unable to raise enough private donations and ineligible for government grants, the dream of lawn bowling in Bracebridge was off to a shaky start.

Sally Mills, the President, accidentally learned in 2015 that the Ontario Trillium Foundation had changed their eligibility criteria. OTF now supported new sport facilities, and had raised the maximum capital grant to $150,000. Sally decided to make one more attempt to secure funding.

When Sally approached the Town of Bracebridge’s Recreation Department for advice and support, they were extremely helpful and enthusiastic, as the lawn bowling club fit with their goals for the community.  They offered assistance with programming, training volunteers, publicity, AND had extensive experience writing grants.  With their assistance, and the ideal location and cooperation offered by the Muskoka Highlands Golf course, the grant application gained credibility and professionalism.

The Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club was thrilled to announce that they were advised in March 2016 that their application was successful, and that they would receive the maximum amount of $150,000 to build the lawn bowling green in Bracebridge.   Now the real work to make the dream a reality began.

The club worked closely with contractor MJC Muskoka, along with landlord Don MacKay and the head greens keeper Nic Bell at the Muskoka Highlands Golf Links to build the green during the summer and fall of 2016.  The new green was seeded late in the fall of 2016, with fingers crossed that the green would be ready for play by July 2017.

The Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club received a second large grant for $25,000 from New Horizons for Seniors to purchase club equipment for bowlers and to offer Learn to Bowl programs, in partnership with the Bracebridge Recreation Department.

The new club was also the grateful recipient of generous private donations,
in-kind donations, and donated equipment from other lawn bowling clubs. Many volunteers were involved to bring Muskoka’s newest sport facility alive. The club held a grand opening for the public on a sunny Saturday, July 8th 2017. Local and District dignitaries and Ken Simpson, the OLBA President, congratulated the club and rolled out the first bowls.

Immediately following, the Learn to Bowl programs started with a mix of instruction and learning by playing. These were so successful that most participants immediately joined as members upon completion. By the end of the summer, word had spread in Muskoka, and membership count had risen to 85.

Throughout the first year, the facilities and equipment were enhanced to include a large storage shed, perimeter fencing, gardens, and additional lawn bowling green maintenance equipment.

The club’s success in launching the first new lawn bowling club in decades in Ontario has been due to the unique combined efforts from the federal, provincial and municipal government, a private golf course, local suppliers and sponsors, the OLBA and many, many volunteer hours over several years by the organizing committee, and by all the first year members.

As one of our earliest members said: “ This is so much fun!