South Peace News
Many said it couldn’t be done!
Many said it would not survive!
Yet, 35 years later, Enilda Mud Bowl continues to “roll” on!
The bowling alley celebrates its 35th anniversary of the first night of league bowling today [Sept. 12]. The first night of league bowling was Sept. 12, 1983.
For Jean Bissell, one of many who worked so tirelessly to bring bowling to the region, it is very satisfying.
“The [former mayor Max Vanderaegen] of High Prairie said we were crazy,” says Bissell.
So much so, an offer to provide land was made available which the turned down.
“We raised the money, we wanted it in Enilda,” says Bissell, who was treasurer of the Enilda Women’s Institute in 1980.
The Enilda W.I. raised $430,000 from 1977-80 to construct the lanes. Money raised was through bingo, renting the hall, dine and dances, and garage sales. They approached the High Prairie Recreation Board June 11, 1980 asking for a $150,000 grant but were denied after hearing their proposal would not fly.
What irritated Enilda W.I. was the view that because they were in Enilda, the alley was inaccessible.
“Why would we put the bowing alley in High Prairie? We have done the work and we have our little community. It’s too far for us to drive to High Prairie the same as it would be for High Prairie to drive to Enilda,” said Bissell at the time.
Despite being refused, Enilda W.I. proceeded. The Enilda and District Society for Recreation and Culture was incorporated Nov. 25, 1980 as the managers of the facility.
At the time of construction, more money was raised up to $465,000. It paid for construction of the building but no equipment inside including lanes and kitchen appliances. Tenders to construct the building had already been planned.
“When the building was built it was paid for,” says Bissell. “Before we opened as it stood empty, it was paid.”
The building was constructed in late 1980-81 and opened on May 19, 1981 as a roller skating rink until lanes could be afforded. The building was officially opened on July 19, 1981. Just over two years late on Aug. 26, 1983, the alley opened when the first balls were rolled down the Georgia pine alleys. The first night of league bowling occurred Sept. 12, 1983 and on Nov. 5, the alley celebrated its grand opening.
Upgrades have occurred over the years. Electronic scorekeeping was a big hit with bowlers, who no longer had to keep score manually. Paule Computer Systems Ltd. completed installing a new $42,000 automated scoring system on July 6, 2002, and the move to acrylic lanes around 2007 was also well-received.
Bowlers will notice some slight changes this season at the alley. Murals have been painted on the walls to dress the place up a bit and LED lighting has been installed.
Another change over 20 years ago was Enilda pulling out of the Albert Five-Pin Bowling Association. Former EDSRC president Craig Bissell said they polled the bowlers and it was decided the extra $1 per game fee was not worth it.
Jean Bissell adds Enilda bowlers were entering too few Five-Pin Association tournaments to warrant the cost.
Today, the alley remains financially stable, although more bowlers would be appreciated compared to the early heydays where 360 bowlers were registered.
“We’re stable, we’re holding our own,” says current EDSRC president David Bissell.
“I hope it builds up,” he adds. “A few more at least.”
EDSRC has tried to become more visible by entering the High Prairie Elks Pro Rodeo Parade – and promptly placing first – as well as additional signage.
EDSRC currently has about 10 active members but are looking for more to join. A few members include David Bissell, a five-year member and current president for two years, while Jean Bissell has been a member since incorporation, Don Carlson is a 20-year member and former president, Carol Winterburn is a two-year member, and Myrna Bissell is a five-year member.
The first night of public bowling this year is Sept. 14. League bowling begins Sept. 17.
Private and school bookings are also accepted. Call  523-4211 to register for league or any inquiries.
EDSRC met Sept. 9 to set fees but they expect them to remain the same this season. Leagues are the same as last year: Monday Day League, Monday Evening Mixed League; Tuesday Evening Mixed League, Thursday Afternoon Seniors League, and Thursday Evening Mixed League.
And who knows? Perhaps this is the first time a perfect game will be rolled at the alley this season.
EDSRC Bowler-of-the-Year Award Winners
[Since 1990: Records not complete since 1983-84 season.
1989-90 207 – Shirley Neufeld 235 – Stan Anderson
1990-91 N/A N/A
1991-92 NA – Laura Rosychuk NA – Stan Anderson
1992-93 N/A N/Aa
1993-94 384 – Carla Auger 388 – Stan Anderson
1994-95 320 – Emily Auger 341 – George Chalifoux
1995-96 342 – Carla Auger 373 – Stan Anderson
1996-97 334 – Cathy Chalifoux 331 – George Chalifoux
1997-98 309 – Gina Tomkins 378 – John Laderoute
1998-99 357 – Carla Auger 348 – Stan Anderson
1999-00 369 – Trish Laderoute 385 – Steve Ribar
2000-01 344 – Carla Auger 325 – Peter Laderoute
2001-02 348 – Carla Auger 358 – David Temple
2002-03 325 – Carla Auger 384 – Peter Badger
2003-04 302 – Denise Lamouche 371 – AL Cloutier
2004-05 337 – Doris Keay 359 – Ralph Courtorielle
2005-06 N/A N/A
2006-07 N/A N/A
2007-08 372 – Carla Auger 365 – Lloyd Cunningham
2008-09 348 – Carla Auger 356 – Peter Laderoute
2009-10 387 – Carla Auger 365 – Stan Anderson
2010-11 321 – Carla Auger 363 – Stan Anderson
2011-12 325 – Carla Auger 339 – Stan Anderson
2012-13 282 – Laura Rosychuk 350 – Glen Laderoute
2013-14 310 – Carla Auger 378 – Doug Auger
2014-15 301 – Hazel Laboucan 328 – Matt Cunningham
2015-16 333 – Carla Auger 328 – Glen Laderoute
2016-17 316 – Lisa Cunningham 341 – Carl Willier
2017-18 293 – Carla Auger 339 – Robert Lemay
Important Dates in Enilda Bowl History
June 11, 1980: The High Prairie Recreation Board declines to help the Enilda Women’s Institute construct bowling lanes.
Nov. 25, 1980: The Enilda and District Society for Recreation and Culture is incorporated.
May 19, 1981: The Enilda W.I. builds a recreation centre which would eventually become the bowling alley. It is used as a roller skating rink until the group can afford to install lanes.
July 10, 1981: MLA Larry Shaben helps celebrate the grand opening of the Enilda and District Recreation Centre.
May 28, 1983: Only 15 skaters attend the Enilda Rollerskating rink’s final skate.
June 10, 1983: The Sports Palace is used for a rollerskating rink after the closure of the facility at Enilda.
Aug. 26, 1983: The Enilda Bowling Alley opens as the first balls are rolled down the Georgia pine alleys.
Sept. 12, 1983: The first night of league bowling occurs at the recently-opened lanes in Enilda. In all, about 360 bowlers register for league play.
Nov. 5, 1983: Alberta Culture’s Nadia Korpus throws a strike to officially open the Enilda Bowling Alley.
November 1993: EDSRC receives a $20,000 Community Facilities Enhancement Program grant from MLA Pearl Calahasen for alley upgrades.
July 6, 2002: Paule Computer Systems Ltd. completes installing a new $42,000 automated scoring system at Enilda Mud Bowl.
April 26, 2004: EDSRC meets and decides that the bowling alley will be 100 per cent smoke-free starting in the fall bowling season.
Jan. 31, 2007: South Peace News publishes a photo of a new sport at Enilda Mud Bowl – stick bowling!
May 13, 2009: High Prairie town council agrees to put aside $15,000 for upgrades at Enilda Mud Bowl. None of the money is forwarded in 2009 but $5,000 each for the three years following.