The Dowling Horseshoe Club and the legacy it left behind


The Dowling Horseshoe Club started in 1969 by Bert Leadbeater and Fred Sealy. The club provided residents with an enjoyable competitive setting and contributed to the social fabric of the Dowling community. Back then, the club used the change rooms of the old Dowling rink as their clubhouse. The club began to grow and they bought an old hotdog stand and turned it into a clubhouse. In 1972 lights were put up and 26 pits with cement pads were built. In 1973 the club was host to the North Eastern Regional games.

The club continued to grow. They bought the old Larchwood Separate School property that had been gutted by fire. With the help of the Onaping Falls Recreation Department and a grant from Wintario, the new clubhouse construction began.

The club received its Charter in 1981, becoming the corporation known as the Dowling Horseshoe Club. With three indoor pits and a clubhouse that could house 141 people, the club was busy. Many people used the facility and Euchre and Cribbage tournaments were hosted there, too.

Membership was $15 per year. $1 of the fee provided each a membership to the Ontario Pitchers Association. It was one of only a few of its kind in Canada.

In 197, ladies were invited into the club. The Dowling Ladies Club existed but it was in Norm and Verla Crawford’s backyard until then. The ladies of the club were instrumental in its growth by running the kitchen and organizing fundraisers.

Now, this is where my story gets interesting and even more informative.

The club has since folded and the building sold but the legacy lives on through a bursary called the Dowling Horseshoe Club Bursary. The bursary is awarded to a student from the Greater Sudbury area (with preference given to a resident of Dowling) demonstrating financial need. The award is presented annually to a student entering first-year studies at Laurentian University.

The bursary began in 1997. The dollars donated from the Dowling Horseshoe Club, to create this bursary, were substantial and have provided students with an amount anywhere from $800 to $1800 each year. With the balance of the donation, this bursary will live on for many more years to come!

Norm Crawford was the acting President when the Horseshoe Club closed. Now that Norm and his wife Verla have passed away it is Bev Crawford who receives an email every year regarding the payout of the annual bursary.

I thank Bev for meeting me to sit down and chat about our lives growing up in Onaping Falls and sharing this community information. Bev is the proud daughter of parents (Norm & Verla) who were strong community volunteers.

If you are a student or know of any of our local youth attending Laurentian University next year, be sure to check out this bursary.