Hall Of Fame Inductee

Shirley & Ross Wilson

Inducted into: Builder Division in 2003

Location: Fenelon Falls

Deceased: DEC

  • Builder

A love of bowling during their fifty-two years of marriage allowed Shirley and the late Ross Wilson to lay the foundation for literally thousands of bowlers to enjoy their favourite pastime in the Kawartha Lakes area.

As fate would have it, Ross and Shirley met in a bowling centre in Lindsay. Shirley had been bowling since she was ten as her father, Bert Windram, an excellent player, wanted her to learn his favourite sport. Ross, on the other hand, was visiting the Lindsay Centre, located above the arena on Russell St., with his church group. Following their marriage in 1949, Shirley moved to the Wilson family farm in Summerville Township and, over the years, five children, Stephen, Lisa, Mark, Michael and Paul were born. While the farm was certainly time consuming, Ross and Shirley continued their enjoyment of bowling and continued to bowl in Lindsay as part of a forty-eight player league from the Fenelon Falls area. However, by 1961, an eight lane centre was built in Fenelon Falls and owned by Burke Gayle and Ernie Smith.

Having lanes so close to home allowed Ross and Shirley to become involved in the centre's activities. Ross soon became secretary of the men=s league and Shirley not only organized leagues, but also put tournaments together involving the northern centres of Fenelon Falls, Bancroft and Carnarvon. These efforts would lay the foundation for the formation of their own zone, 1000 Lakes, which was formed in 1976.

Prior to that, as the Ontario Bowlers' Congress began to organize the province, Fenelon Falls was geographically aligned with Kawartha District, which was centered around Peterborough. However, the volunteers had difficulty servicing the large northern area and, in 1975, Ross attended the annual O5PBA Convention at Elgin House to inquire about forming their own northern zone. Ross knew that the pieces were finally in place to accomplish this formidable task, Stan Dunsford owned the lanes in Bancroft and his volunteers included Bill and Donna Philips and Judy Lavoy. The Medleys' at Carnarvon were ready to join both the Bowling Proprietors Association of Ontario and also the bowlers association and Ron Robinson Sr. and the zone's first president, Wes Stata and his wife Evelyn, were onside. In Fenelon Falls, Ross and Shirley were ready to go and were supported by Joan Deyell, Lois Ballam, Audrey and George Gerris, and Don Mackie along with the proprietor, Cy Barton.

In 1976, a meeting was held in Carnarvon to establish the new 1000 Lakes zone, a new association totally separate from the neighbouring group, who chose the name of Great Pine Ridge. While the volunteers were enthused about their new zone, Ross and Shirley faced new challenges. Ross looked toward Lindsay as a new partner for the zone as at sixteen lanes, Bowlaway Lanes was the largest centre in the area. Ross, with the help of Larry Cavanagh, Bonnie Fife, Jackie Hawkins, Anne Marie and Ed Geary, Pat Passmore, Pat Cook and Sharon Griffin decentralized the centre for the 1983 season. Prior to that, decentralized associations were established in Fenelon Falls, Carnarvon, and Bancroft in 1980, and many years later in 1995, Minden followed.

For her next challenge, Shirley took over the management of the bowling centre in Fenelon Falls in 1984 and from her house, which was literally across the street, Shirley could watch the centre twenty-four hours a day. Shirley promoted the decentralized centre and, on eight lanes, had nearly five hundred adult bowlers, who were all members of the O5PBA, plus a Aspecial needs' league and a bustling Youth Bowling Council program.

At the zone and decentralized level, Ross has been President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Lane Certification Agent. Shirley handled Booster, Awards, Membership, Lottery, Record Scores and Tournament Director. It may be fair to say that they could be a full zone executive all by themselves. Moreover, they performed these duties at the highest of levels. Ross was Treasurer of the Year as part of the Incentive Awards Program as conducted by the Ontario 5 Pin Bowlers Association in 1979 for the 1000 Lakes zone and in 1997 for the decentralized Fenelon Falls zone. Shirley was named Proprietor of the Year by the Ontario 5 Pin Bowlers' Association in 1986 and both Ross and Shirley were awarded Life Memberships, first by the zone in 1991, and ultimately by the O5PBA in 1999.

As grassroots volunteers, Ross and Shirley were both Master Bowlers and, in1982, Ross qualified for the Ontario Teaching Men's Team that bowled nationally in Newfoundland. Together, Shirley and Ross coached at all levels from the YBC to the Open, conducted coaching clinics, participated and sponsored at the bowlers= convention, chauffeured tournament qualifiers hundreds of miles so that they could continue in zone, regional and provincial rounds. In essence, they promoted the highest of standards but also wanted the game to be 'fun' as both Shirley and Ross understood the role of humour in the bowling process.

While Shirley continues to live in Fenelon Falls, Ross passed away in 2001. Ross' career included farming, transportation and thirty-five years in the manufacturing industry with Abex Inc. in Lindsay. But, it was their love for each other and their passion for bowling that allowed them to enjoy over fifty years together. Of their five children, Michael has stayed with 5 pin bowling, performing at the highest level on and off the lanes. Currently, he is Secretary of the Ontario 5 Pin Bowlers Association provincially, and is also Secretary of the Kawartha Lakes and President of the Fenelon Falls 5 Pin decentralized association, taking over from Ross in 1988. Michael is also a tournament winner on the Master Bowlers Association tour.

In addition, there are six grandchildren, two boys and four girls, who can look with pride on the achievements of their grandparents, Shirley and Ross Wilson.