Your Local Bowling Club since 1915. Social, inclusive, and competitive.

The Preston Lawn Bowling Club keeps a reputation for integrating a fun, friendly, and competitive atmosphere for people of all ages.
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Early History

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The G. Pattinson Company organized the first lawn bowling club

The first lawn bowling club in town was for the benefit of their employees about 1908. It was located at Laurel and Eagle Streets. This green was abandoned later on.

William Sobish, Robert McIntosh, Rev. R. Herbert, Harry Sullivan, Jock Ballentyne, Mike McTearnen, Donald Campbell, Thos. Ballentyne, Wm. Reids, Joe Bauer, Cyrus Dolph, Thos. Hepburn, George Roos, Alf Lee, Mike Mullin, W. Hudson, John Sorht, About 25 members; others no known.

About 1912 or 1913 a group of young workers from the Parker Steele Shoe Company made a green on the company property between the factory and the building that stood on the King And Guelph Street corner (now a convenience store).

Known members at that time were: S.H. Parker, H. Steele, Sr., H. Steele, Jr., Thomas Cocklin, Russel Lumby, Pat McGrath, Charles McGrath, Walter Wirshing, Jim Crawford, Edgar Drage, Wally Dix.

Around 1915, PLBC began

It is believed that many of the above bowlers were the charter members of our present club. No records can be found, but we know that the game of lawn bowls attracted men from every walk of life, and later the ladies decided to organize a club too, which has led to many mixed bowling events.

The Early History of Preston Lawn Bowling Club

1990s Restoration

This history was compiled by Mark Clare in 2002.

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The Preston Lawn Bowling Club, was a quaint building on a beautiful green lawn

We would often stop on a summer afternoon or evening to watch people - usually seniors - often dressed in white - socializing and playing bowls. The scene seemed to fit the small town atmosphere of this part of Cambridge; a scene reminiscent of older and less hurried times; a scene still associated with small towns and old neighbourhoods all over Ontario.

The Preston Lawn Bowling Club had been part of our town for generations. We took it for granted that this fine old club would always be there.

Over the 1990s the level of activity at the club declined

Buildings began to show the telltale signs of lack of regular maintenance. By the mid 1990s the lawns - the most important asset of any lawn bowling club - had become waist high with weeds. The club had ceased active play owing to the simple fact that the remaining members were aging and did not have the physical energy to repair or maintain the facilities.

In the neighbourhood surrounding the club, a group of neighbours with an interest in preserving the best in their town began to ask questions about the Preston Lawn Bowling Club. Their inquiries led them to the last active member of the club, Mr. Bill Blake. Bill had been associated with the club for many years and lived across the road from the clubhouse. Bill held both the key to the clubhouse and the key to the club's history.

The Spring of 1998

In the early spring of 1998, the neighbours and Bill formed the Preston Lawn Bowling Club Restoration Committee. With material support from the City of Cambridge, particularly through the office of John Hanna, Director of Parks and Outside Services, the committee began work in the summer of 1998 on two fronts - the greens and the buildings.

The greens, which had been left unattended for several seasons, had to be completely rebuilt. They had to be hand weeded - then weeded again - raked and hoed. The sandy soil needed amending and the entire soil surface had to carefully leveled prior to seeding. The City of Cambridge lent the committee levelling rakes, scopes and seed spreaders, and provided the bent grass seed. For many evenings and on their own time, City staff Don Bridgeman and Richard Bullock joined the volunteers to help in the preparation of the greens.

The second focus of the restoration effort was the buildings, a series of three joined structures - the clubhouse, the bowls equipment storage room and the workshop/garage. All of the buildings needed paint and repair, but the equipment room had structural damage to two walls. The committee removed one entire wall and shored up the others. The siding was chosen to reflect the clapboard style of the club in days gone by.

The summer of 1998 was long and hot. The committee volunteers worked in the heat, pulling weeds, repairing the buildings, painting and planning. It must be pointed out that only one of the Restoration Committee members had ever thrown a bowl! To remedy this, local clubs invited the volunteers to visit and begin to learn the skills and strategies of lawn bowls.

The anticipation of the first playing season in years

Late in the fall of 1998, work on the club buildings and greens stopped for the winter months. The Restoration Committee shifted its focus in anticipation of the spring of 1999 and the first playing season in years. In preparation for a spring opening, an effort was undertaken to gather and organize the club archives and write a history of the club. Old photographs were found and displayed on the club walls. Pennants reflecting past glories were used to decorate the club interior. Former club members were contacted and encouraged to return to the club to play or simply to watch, socialize and share their stories of this fine old Preston institution.

By May of 1999, The Preston Lawn Bowling Club had its first playable greens in years. Over time, about 40 members - old and new - came out to support the club and play. Older members said that the restored club was almost indistinguishable from the club they had enjoyed over the years. During the summer of 1999, the Restoration Committee gave way to an elected executive which would carry on the business of the now active Preston Lawn Bowling Club. Today the PLBC has regained its status as a viable and active club affiliated with the Ontario Lawn Bowling Association.

The neighbourhood of the old Town of Preston once again has it's cottage-like clubhouse and greens. Once again, the neighbours can walk down the west end of Queenston Road on a summer afternoon or night and see people of all ages and abilities socializing and engaging in the gentle sport of lawn bowling.

With an investment of time, labour and care, an important part of the history of Cambridge survives and prospers. We like to think that the restoration of the Preston Lawn Bowling Club stands as an example of how a group of neighbours can work with their community to preserve a part of their heritage that they hold dear.

Heritage Foundation Certificate - Waterloo Region

The Preston Lawn Bowling Club Restoration Committee

Bill Blake
Sharon Brown
Ann Clare
Beth Clare
Mark Clare
James Clare
Steve Halicki
Deb Lenzi

Mark McClelland
Susan McClelland
Ian Scott
Jim Scott
Nick Scott
Trudy Scott
Mary Lou Wakutz
Dave Wakutz

Modern Era

Since the Restoration Phase several changes have been made to improve the club

Since the Restoration Phase several changes have been made to improve the club

We have made efforts to improve and upgrade the bowling Green. Changes and modifications were made to the clubhouse to enhance the social experience. As well safety and security were improved.

2003 Green Expansion

Perhaps the biggest change of all occurred in 2003 when we were granted a Trillium Grant to expand the size of the Green. The original Green was approximately 100 ft. x 100 ft., which was a typical size for small town Greens in the early days. A standard modern Green should be at least 120 ft. in length. As we did not have room to expand to 120 ft. in both directions it was decided to the 20 ft. in the one direction that it was possible. This would now allow us to host District playdowns with up to 7 full size rinks.  

With assistance from Home Depot the kitchen was remodeled in 2003. Later a third sink for handwashing was installed and a portable dish washer was purchased. The lounge area in the clubhouse was redecorated by Bill & Dorothy Scarland. It was again updated in 2012 by Richard Bullock & Harry Metheral.

To improve security the large glass window in the bowls/equipment room was closed and the wall redone. The only access is now through a solid steel door.

Additional Improvements

Over the years, it has been necessary to constantly update and replace the equipment used to maintain the property and the Green. When it became impossible to find replacement parts for the greens iron, it was decided to seek a Trillium Grant and replace it. As well, we were able to purchase a new greens mower and a top dressing machine.

To improve the experience for new bowlers and those who were beginning to have difficulties with the old large club bowls, the New Horizons Grants for Seniors program was approached, and they granted us enough money to acquire 12 sets of small size bowls.

Through the City, we were able to update the clubhouse in 2015 and have added a wheelchair ramp to allow access into the building. As well, we now have an accessible washroom. Lawn bowls are an inclusive sport, and we need to serve the needs of all who wish to join.

The club is now an active participant in District 7 of the Ontario Lawn Bowling Association. Some of our members have held the following positions on the District 7 Executive: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. One member is also an accredited bowls umpire. We have hosted District playdowns in different events and have sent teams to District playdowns over the last several years. The club also played host to a tournament of blind bowlers and a jitney for members of the Canadian Transplant Association. We also received our Liquor License in 2015 and may now sell and serve wine and beer. This will allow us to control the consumption of alcohol and provide an added stream of revenue.

In 2018 we introduced Short Mat Bowls and operated the program from Oct through Apr. at Kinbridge Community Centre and Langs. (unfortunately, the 2019-20 season was cut short, and the 2020-21 season was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions)

​COVID-19 also severely impacted our 2020 season as we were restricted to members only and had to cancel all planned tournaments and events.

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Did you know?
The stereotype in Canada is that lawn bowling is a game for the elderly.

At PLBC, we have youth memberships to foster a lifelong love of the game and bring families together.

“ One of the greatest little clubs you'll ever visit. Give it a try !!”

~ Chris Stadnyk - President of Heritage Greens LBC