Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sports in Chilliwack

South Africa in Chilliwack:
Not Football or Soccer but Lawn Bowling

It may not have been the World Cup but for the 1937 South African (Lawn) Bowling Association team their Canadian Tour was very successful. The team, whose average age was 60, left South Africa on May 12, 1937 the day of the Coronation of King George VI. It was a long journey, stopping initially in England before proceeding to Canada and all of the team members paid their own expenses. Some of the South African team members travelled 15,000 miles to bowl on the Pacific coast leg of the Canadian tour and for many it was their first trip to Canada. By the time they played in Chilliwack, August 20, 1937 the team had spent ten weeks on tour.

Upon their noon arrival the South African team, of 29 men and 12 women attended a lunch held for them at the Empress Hotel. Afterwards they proceeded to the Chilliwack lawn bowling greens located at the corner of Princess Avenue and Edward Street where six matches were played beginning at 2:30 PM.

The South Africans dressed in “white flannels, white shirts, polished brown shoes, floppy cream straws with green and yellow bands, and green and yellow ties.” (Chilliwack Progress, August 25, 1937, page 5) continued their dominance of their Canadian opponents and defeated Chilliwack five matches to one. Their Canadian tour now stood at 38 victories and 8 losses.

Several lapel pins commemorative of the South African Canadian tour as well as a pennant of their association were presented to the local Chilliwack club. At the end of the tour, September 1, 1937 the South Africans left Canada for home with an anticipated arrival date of September 25, 1937. It is not known how the team faired for the rest of their Canadian tour.

The Chilliwack Museum has two of the commemorative lapel pins in its collection. One was presented to Chilliwack Lawn Bowling Society member Mrs. Ruth Goodall who was present at the 1937 Chilliwack matches but did not play. The second pin came directly to us from the Chilliwack Lawn Bowling Society.

Image: South African Bowling Association 1937 Canadian Tour Lapel Pin

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