Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Canada: The Shots That Time Forgot (Part 2)

(Also see the first Canada : The Shots That Time Forgot)

I left this out of my post-trip posts because I thought it warranted an entry all its own. It made a big impression on me and left me with a big question.

There’s a sport in Canada, created by a Canadian, played only in Canada. Since 1909 it has been putting a different spin on a sport that has been marginalized in the United States.

I’m talking about five-pin bowling, a less strenuous but not easier form of the 10-pin game seen elsewhere. The ball is substantially smaller and lighter than in traditional bowling, and the pins are smaller and spaced farther apart.


I approached the ball return, which looked exactly like any other, and chose one of the marbled balls. There were no holes for my fingers, and this was just as well since my large knuckles rarely allow me to properly grasp a full-size bowling ball unless I choose one that’s far too heavy for me. My geeky arms immediately thanked me for traveling to Canada. So much lighter was their burden, they barely noticed.

I looked down the lane at the five paltry pins, downright dainty little things. This was going to be easy. I didn’t know the top score possible in this adorable game, but I surely would approach if not reach it.

(click any pic to enlarge)


My usual stance seemed appropriate, so I stood still several feet back from the lane, my ball aloft in my right hand, my left arm hanging slack by my side. I looked at the pins, took three steps while swinging the ball behind me, then slid on my left foot and flung the ball forward as my right leg crossed over behind my left. In other words, I used classic bowling form.

The ball started a bit to the right, as usual, and then curved in to hit the number one pin. I can’t remember whether that throw resulted in a strike, but I do know that only a few did. Spares were remarkably difficult to pick up, as small and as far apart as the pins were.

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My Canadian brethren (and sistren) fared better than I, not to mention my fellow American. It turned out I was just as mediocre at tiny bowling as I was at the full-size version.

It got me thinking, however. Why hadn’t this game spread at least to Canada’s nearest neighbor? I could see this game getting noticed in the United States, where bowling alleys routinely set up lanes for children’s use. Surely they could add a lane or two dedicated to five-pin bowling. Start-up costs would include a new pinsetter and possibly a new ball return mechanism. The scoring computer would need to be either re-programmed or replaced.

Okay, so it wouldn’t be cheap. I can’t help thinking that in a major metro area it soon would pay for itself. Has it been tried?

If that isn’t enough to convince you how cool it is, consider the geek factor: in 1952 its ball was used to make the first trackball.