John Morrison doesn’t mince words when asked what a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation meant for the Oshawa Lawn Bowling Club.
It “kind of saved our bacon,” said the club treasurer and one of its directors.
COVID-19 hit the club hard. From around 150 members before the pandemic, membership now sits at roughly 80. Sadly, some club members died as a result of COVID-19.
“We ran into a real problem when COVID hit because … almost all of our money comes from membership fees,” Morrison said.
Some members donated money to keep the club going.
Morrison explained that the club needs more than $20,000 a year to pay its bills, including utilities and, especially, maintaining the lawns.
The $20,000 grant “helped us to remain solvent during the COVID period,” he said.
To celebrate the one-year Community Building Fund grant, aimed at helping non-profits survive and recover from the pandemic, the club held a special event on Sept. 16.
Now, Morrison said, “we have to rebuild our membership.”
Founded in 1904, the club has moved around a lot in Oshawa since then, he said. Colonel RS “Sam” McLaughlin took an interest in the club, which was once located at his Parkwood Estate. Colonel Sam donated a trophy and to this day, once a year, teams from across the province come to Oshawa to compete in the Oshawa Gold Cup.
Morrison said at one point the club had up to 650 members.
He noted that lawn bowling is a low-impact sport. And while it attracts seniors, the sport is for people of all ages, he said.
“While seniors make up the largest portion of the membership in the club, it also has a junior program and a visually impaired program,” stated club president Marg LeBlanc in a press release. “The purpose of the club is to ensure interaction in the community and provide low-cost physical activities (lawn bowling) and ensure that the community remains social, active, and engaged, through a variety of other social events.”
The membership fee is $180 a year and Morrison said members “can play every week” if they wish.
The club is based at the Northview Community Centre, 150 Beatrice St. E.
To learn more, visit www.oshawalawnbowling.ca, email [email protected], or call Leblanc at 905-240-2851.