BC Week: Men's Events History

All articles by Dr. John Aveline

B.C. Week is one of the oldest lawn bowls tournaments in Canada, running continuously since 1922.  Although it is one of largest events in BC, it was once a huge event, a bewildering array of trophies up for competition and newspaper coverage which included not just the results, but also the draw!

At its height, Men's BC week included Rinks, Pairs, Singles, Evening Triples, Barnard Rinks and International Rinks.  Bowlers came from western Canada and the United States to take part in this event and men who still worked would take the week off just to be able to play (The booklet for the 1939 BC Week bills the event as a chance to take a "relaxation from business cares".

In the beginning (1922) there were 3 main events; Men's Rinks, Doubles and Singles.  As time went on these events were expanded and other events were added.

A snap-shot of the event in 1947 can be found in the Daily Province.  B.C. Week celebrated its 25th anniversary in style.  The Men's Fours had 84 teams, the Men's Pairs had 164 and required 12 clubs for the first day's play.  The Men's Singles had 176 entries at 9 clubs.  Bowlers came from throughout the V&D as well as B.C. (Cumberland, Merritt, Nanaimo, Victoria, Penticton), Alberta (Calgary & Medicine Hat) and the States (Bellingham, Seattle, L.A., Berkeley).

 

BOWLER(S) OF THE WEEK

To be eligible, a bowler must enter all three events. The calculations for Bowler of the Week are done as follows.  Players receive points if they have a top finish in an.  The player with highest total number of points is declared Bowler of the Week.  Points are earned as followed:

 

Placing         Section A      Section B 

  1st                     8                         6

  2nd                  6                         4

  3rd                   4                         2

  4th                   2 
 

 

MEN'S SINGLES:  Seaton / Sparling / Masterman

Discontinued in 2002

The Seaton Singles were played on Wednesday and finished on the same day.  All games were 18 points except the semi-finals and finals which were the full 21 points.  All players started competing for the Seaton Trophy. Those who lost their first game, continued, playing in the Sparling event (named for R.C. Sparling, president of the BCLBA. in 1930 and life member of Terminal City).  Those who lost in round 2 of the Seaton played for the Masterman trophy.  Everyone was guaranteed two games.  This must have run late.  If there were 64 entries (which is a low number), it would take 6 rounds to complete the event, but 7 rounds was more usual.  By the mid-90's the entry was typically about 32 and bowlers played 4 15-point games on the Wednesday.  The top 8 played knock-out 21-point singles games on Thursday.  Occasionally the top 16 advanced or players who finished 9-16 played a consolation play-off.

 

MEN'S PAIRS:  Wee McKay / Mercer / Gray / Bryant

The Men's Pairs has one of the events ever since BC Week was first played in 1922.  Like the Fours, the Pairs had an original trophy - The Wee McKay (pronounced to rhyme with 'eye') and over time the four flights had trophies put up for their winners.  The pairs was always run on the 'pennant system.  Teams were divided into 16 groups of 4 or 6 teams and played 3 18-end games or 4 14's on Tuesday.  Knock-out play for each trophy began Friday mornng and there were 4 rounds: 2 18-end games and 21-end games for the semis and finals.

 

By the 1950's the 4 trophies were the Wee McKay, Mercer, Gray and Bryant (played for by the teams that finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, respectively, in their original sections.  Those who finished 5th and 6th in 6 team sections played a consolation event with no trophy. 

 

MEN'S TRIPLES:  Centennial

B.C. Week made every effort to include all bowlers in the V&D and beyond.  It was run with the possibility in mind that working people would take the week off to play in B.C. Week (and many did).  It was also acknowledged that some people were unable to take that week off, so the organizers ran an evening event.  It began as a doubles (pairs) event, but grew to a triples event by 1956 where we find teams competing for the Stanley Trophy, which was donated by Dr. Stanley of Bellingham.  In 1958 he trophy for this event was the Centennial Trophy to mark the Centennial of British Columbia.

 

MEN'S FOURS:  Bowser / Jenkinson / L.C. Jack / Stewart

The Men's Fours is one of the charter members of B.C. Week.  It was included in the original event in 1922 and was sponsored by former premiere of B.C. John William Bowser in memory of his brother, Francis Bowser.  (Francis was an influential businessman in his own right.  The building on the south-west corner of 41st and West Boulevard, built in 1912, was named the Bowser Block after him)  John Bowser, shown at left, was also attorney general of B.C. and, at the time B.C. Week was established, was leader of the opposition.There were four flights in total and at first only the championship flight had a trophy.

As time went on trophies were put up for the other three flights.  Terminal City put up the John Jenkinson Trophy in honour of one of their charter members and past presidents.  This went to the second flight winner.  The third and fourth fligh winner eventually won the L.C. Jack and A. Stewart Trophies, respectively.  In the '60's the Bowser Trophy was discontinued in favour of the T. Eaton Co. Trophy, which would have included prizes in kind only - prize money, however small, would have forced the prize winner to be regarded as a professional, rather than an amateur.

In 1969 the fours became a triples event, likely due to declining entries and, perhaps, a growing preference for triples.  The current men's triples event in B.C. Week is actually the direct descendant of this fours event.  Fours was re-instituted in 2002, to replace the singles event, which was falling out of favour.  Not only did singles generate less income from entry fees, but it also required a larger number of volunteers in the form of markers.

Originally, the fours was run on the flight system.  Everyone was in the championship flight to start and then teams dropped down in the flights as they lost.  The first rounds were played on Monday, with the remaining rounds being played on Wednesday, and then Thursday.  Those who lost in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd round of the Bowser, dropped down and played for the Jenkinson.  From then on, those who lost in the Bowser, from the 4th round all the way to the semi-finals, played for the L.C. Jack (named for the Terminal City bowler).  Those who lost in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounds of the Jenkinson, played for the A. Stewart trophy.  Everyone was guaranteed 3 games.

By the 1940's the event's format had changed.  Teams were divided into 16 sections of 4 (who played 3 18-end games) or 6 (who played 4 14-end games).  The draw for this (and all other events) was published in the Saturday newspaper).  Section winners played for the Bowser, 2nd place teams played for the Jenkinson, 3rd place teams for the Jack and 4th, 5th and 6th placers for the Stewart. Thursday play was straight knock-out and all games were 18 ends (semis and finals were 21 ends).  In 1947 there were 16 sections (96 teams) so every trophy event had 16 teams in the knock-out portion.  That meant that all entrants played 54 or 56 ends on Monday and all finalists played 4 games on Thursday (78 ends, not including burnt ends).  Today the fours event is very much scaled back.  It is run on the final two days of B.C. Week.  On the the first day teams play 4 10-end games and are divided into sections based on their finish (top teams are in A, the next teams are in B and the bottom teams are in C).  On the second day teams play another 4 10-end games within their section.  The winner of A is the B.C. Week Men's Fours champions.

2019 C Vancouver & District Bowls Association, British Columbia, Canada