Hall Of Fame Inductee

Bert Garside

Inducted into: Builder Division in 1986

Inducted into: Player Division in 1987

Inducted into: Builder of the Bowling Industry in 1979

Location: Pickering

Deceased: DEC

  • Builder
  • Player
  • Industry

BERT K. GARSIDE of Agincourt is one of those rare people who might have been inducted to both Divisions of the 5 Pin Bowling Hall of Fame, as both a player and a builder. Stories are still being recounted about the "splendid splinter's" heroics and achievements on the lanes. But he takes as much or more pride in recently having marked 20 consecutive years of service as the first and only Managing Director to date of Ontario's premiere Sport Governing Body, a record unmatched in amateur sport in Ontario and probably in Canada! He stepped from seven years in the volunteer ranks to take the job in 1966, and looks back on a staggering string of achievements - introduction of the Lane Certification and Tournament Sanctioning programs, founding of the first Zone Association of bowlers in Scarborough, construction of today's network of 24 Zone Associations across Ontario, founding of the first Zone Association of proprietors in Scarborough, founding of the Master Bowlers' Association of Ontario, invention of the Master Bowlers' shoe, wrote the current version of the game's Rule Book, launching of the National Coaching Certification Program in 5 Pin, and the winning of Government recognition of 5 Pin Bowling as a bona fide "sport". It is difficult to be brief in recounting all he has contributed and achieved!

For Bert Garside, tonight's induction to the players division of the 5 pin bowling Hall of Fame marks the culmination of a 30-year bowling career. In a career of first's, Bert now becomes the first person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as both a builder and a player. In addition, he also becomes the first person to be honoured three times, having been recognized at the Builders of the Bowling Industry dinner in 1979. While Bert was dedicating his life and career to building our sport, he was also a champion on the lanes. Over a 30-year career, Bert rolled four perfect games, and won nearly every major event conducted during his career. His lifetime average stands at 255. Among his many accomplishments, Bert was the founder of the Master Bowlers' Association, which in 1964 allowed the top bowlers to compete in a common arena. Bert continued his domination here also, winning an event in 1968 and posting a 257 average over 10 years. But the Masters is only one of many bowling achievements for Bert. Other highlights include touring the province with Hellewell's All Stars, representing Double Diamond pinsetters on their advisory staff and winning a Canadian championship in the year it all began, 1962. Tonight we join Bert's wife Hester, sons Brian and Michael, and daughters Tracy and Caron, to once again salute the one man who is responsible for the organization and survival of our sport - Bert Garside.

Bert Garside is the most complex, dynamic and controversial figure in the sport of five pin bowling. At the same time, he is the one man, more than any other, to whom five pin bowling owes its' strength, prosperity and growth. Few people have neutral feelings about Bert Garside. In any discussion, supporters and opponents of Bert Garside, take strong stands. However, whether one agrees with him or not, all will concur in the fact that he has been a major influence on the game.

It was in 1966, that Bert asked for, and was appointed to the position of Executive Director of the Canadian Bowling Congress and the Ontario Bowlers' Council. The appointment came at the same meeting at which the O.B.C. conferred a life membership upon Bert in recognition of his seven years of dedicated volunteer service already logged on the Association's behalf.

Bert had volunteered his services to the Ontario Bowlers' Council at the time of its inception in 1959, was appointed Zone Chairman, and established contacts with volunteer workers in communities across Ontario.

With tournament sanctioning a "fait accompli", and everyone in awe of his persuasive powers, Bert presented the O.B.C. Annual Meeting with a recommended program of annual inspection and lane certification in 1961. Again, no one ever believed the idea would get off the ground, but the O.B.C. appointed Bert Garside its Lane Certification Chairman. Bert not only talked proprietors into letting him make his inspections of their lane beds and equipment, he also talked them into paying him for the service! He set up the program, designed its forms and certificates and built its credibility in the eyes of the proprietors.

In 1962, Bert was elected a Director of the Canadian Bowling Congress, and between 1962 and 1966, he served on a variety of volunteer posts, including Vice-President of both the C.B.C and the O.B.C. In the same year, Bert was a member of the Scarborough team that went to Saskatoon to compete for the Canadian Championships. The team's victory and a record team single game score (a record which still stands) paled in Bert's eyes when he discovered the superior level of organization bowling had achieved in the West by comparison with Ontario. On his return, he asked for and received permission from the O.B.C. to start the first local Bowlers' Association.

Bert realized then as now, that the key to organizing bowlers was to gain the support of the proprietors. He contacted all proprietors in the Scarborough Zone, and became Founder and President of the Scarborough Proprietor's Association. One month later, he became Founder and President of the Scarborough Bowlers' Association.

This was also the period in which Bert attempted to start a Pro Bowlers' Association, and after three years of perseverance, it finally became a reality when, with the help of the B.P.A.O., the Master Bowlers' Association was formed. In 1968, Bert was honoured by being presented with its' first life membership.

This was also the period in which Bert applied all that he had learned in Scarborough to assist with the formation of other local bowlers' associations, first in Hamilton, and Sudbury and then in York West, Niagara and Kitchener-Waterloo Regions.

During this five year period, Bert also found time to create the Master Bowler's shoe, to write a syndicated column on bowling instruction that appeared in newspapers throughout Canada: to write the original M.B.A. "Instruction Manual", and to invent the "instant average calculator". He also collated all the rules of five pin bowling and re-wrote the rule book that is used today and has helped provide standardization of five pin bowling rules across the country.

In 1966, when the old O.B.C. made Bert its Executive Director, he handed the members of the board a written list of 13 tasks which he saw as his most pressing responsibilities. That original list really describes today's Ontario 5 Pin Bowlers' Association, and the full program of tournaments and membership services enjoyed today by bowlers from coast to coast in Canada.

It was Bert Garside, at the helm of the O.B.C. in 1970 who first demanded recognition of the coach as a full member of every team at the Ontario 5 Pin Championships. And it was Bert who steered the O.B.C. into its involvement with the National Coaching Development Program, a program in which we all take so much pride in today. It was during this year that Bert's achievements were brought to the attention of the Scarborough Sports & Recreation Association, and he was suly honoured at a dinner with other sports personalities.

Again, it was Bert Garside, who in 1971, said bowling had come of age, and demanded its recognition as a sport rather than a recreation. He lobbied for its inclusion into the Ontario Winter Games and Canada Games, and opened negotiations which eventually gained its membership in Sports Ontario, access to Wintario and other Ontario government funding.

There is no facet of the game of five pin bowling upon which Bert has not made an impact, and there are few in the bowling industry whose lives he has not touched. And yet tonight, each of us may see a new side to the man.

Tonight, we'll see Bert Garside as only a few people have been privileged to see him.

Jack Fine, this evening's Master of Ceremonies and one of the originators of the Builders of the Bowling Industry Annual Awards Dinner, will tell of a long term relationship between Bert and himself, when power struggles and mistrust existed between bowlers and proprietors. Thanks to Bert's efforts and the trust that he and Jack had in each other, many elements of dispute and contention were resolved long before they reached the surface and disrupted the tenuous relationships that were forming.

Jake Hellewell sees Bert through the eyes of a near and dear friend. He recalls the feisty bantam weight who sauntered into a bowling centre and crowed " I'm Bert Garside. I'll play any man from any land, any game that he can name, for any amount that he can count!". Bert often proved the truth of that boastful statement. He was an excellent pool player, could play any card game and was an exceptional bowler. In high school, he once tied a Russian Master chess player.

Jake watched that competitive spirit turn a skinny kid from Cabbagetown into a champion on the lanes. Bert bowled 4 perfect 450 games, has a lifetime average of 255, and won every major tournament, except the O'Connor Open, that was conducted in his time. Bert also established a record 15 consecutive victories in appearances on television.

The same cocky faith in his own abilities, turned an underweight sheet metal worker into the founder and owner of three different companies in the construction industry.

Walter Heeney was an employee of the O.B.C. office in the seventies, and will provide a few insights into the workday world of an office presided over by a whirling dervish Bert, has a reputation for example, for being a fierce adversary in the meeting room. His propensity to "call a spade a spade" has often made him enemies in the heat of debate, but to his credit, he usually earns the respect even of his enemies. Often, he has said, "So long as I have their respect, I really don't care if they like me."

Participants and everyone else in the five pin bowling industry, owe a great deal to Bert Garside's dogged determination to keep inferior equipment off the market, and perhaps most particularly to his work in perfecting standardized design and dimensions for the five pin. The fruits of much of this work in equipment specification, will soon be published and while Bert would be the first to deny credit for all that has been achieved, he was most certainly the driving force.

Bill Bird, a former local association volunteer, is just one of many who've become infected with Bert's enthusiasm. He'll tell us a little about what the future holds for five pin bowling and its' followers, as we step into Bert Garside's dreams and visions of the future.

The most closely guarded side of Bert Garside's life and personality has been that which he shares with his family: with his devoted wife Hester, with sons Brian and Michael, with daughters Tracy and Caron. Tracy will provide us tonight with a glimpse into the private life of a legend.

Bert Gardside... a champion bowler, writer, inventor and an unequaled organizer, motivator and builder... and tonight, the toast of the five pin bowling industry!