Bowling, indoor, game in which a player attempts to knock down pins by propelling a ball down a wooden lane. Similar games were played as early as 5000 BC in Egypt. The 10-pin version was developed in the US in the 19th century, and 5-pin bowling was invented in Canada in 1908 or 1909 by Thomas F. RYAN.
Ryan owned a 10-pin bowling club in downtown Toronto, and tried a number of experiments to regain the interest of his elite patrons, who found the 10-pin ball too heavy and the game too strenuous. Finally, he had his father shave a regulation pin on a lathe, placed 5 of these pins on the 10-pin floor, and introduced the use of a duckpin ball (roughly 2 kg in weight and 13 cm in diameter). Ryan then developed a scoring system in which the pins were numbered from 1 to 5, making it possible to score 15 points if all pins were bowled over in each player's turn (called a frame). The player was allowed 3 balls per turn.
In order to add a challenge to the game, Ryan made it obligatory to knock down the left corner pin (4 pin) before the player could be awarded any points. With 3 balls per frame and 10 frames per game, the player aimed at a perfect score of 450 points. Since the pins were very light, they easily flew through the air following contact with the ball, and the game was far noisier than before.
In 1912, Ryan solved both problems by adding a thick rubber band to the belly of the pin, a feature still used today. Five-pin bowling soon became one of the most popular sports in Canada and the northern US. The first international competition was held in 1913. In 1918, Alfred Shrubb bowled the first 400 game, and in 1921, Bill Bromfield became the first player to score a perfect 450.
In 1927, 500 bowlers gathered in Toronto's King Edward Hotel to found the Canadian Bowling Association. Over the next few years, several governing groups were formed throughout the country, but in 1978 they amalgamated to form the Canadian 5-Pin Bowlers' Association, which now serves over 250 000 members from coast to coast by organizing tournaments, providing instructional aids and granting awards.
In 1956, Double Diamond, Ltd, invented a machine to set pins up automatically, thus replacing the "pinboy." The invention of a string pinsetter followed in 1963, reducing mechanical expenses and adding speed and smoothness to the game.
The game remains essentially the same, and is played by more than 2 million Canadians in over 700 bowling centres each year. It is easy for children to play, and thousands of men and women participate annually in tournaments and in provincial, national and international championships. Five-pin bowling is Canada's own game and is the number-one participant sport in this country.
Ten-pin bowling has remained popular in Canada and it is now claimed to be the largest participation sport in the world. Several Canadians have excelled in international competition, notably Graydon Robinson of Toronto, who won the world championship in Tokyo, 1969; Ray Mitchell, originally from Alberta, who won the world's master championship in Hamburg, West Germany, 1972; Cathy Townsend of Montréal, who won the women's World Cup in Manila, 1975; and Jean Gordon of Vancouver and Ron Allenby of Ottawa, who ranked high in the FIQ world championships in Helsinki in 1987. In the 1995 World Championship, Debbie Ship of Montréal and Marc Doi of Mississauga won singles events. Also, just prior to the Olympic Games in Atlanta, 1996, William Rowen Hamilton won a world championship in a singles event.
See also LAWN BOWLING.