People

Pin bowling has a long history in the City of Selkirk.

The earliest mention found in Selkirk’s online newspaper archives is from 1913; an ad stating that a bowling alley and billiards hall was opened in the Lisgar House hotel by Messrs. Terry and Comber.

In October 1929, ads appeared for a new ten-pin bowling league at the Selkirk Bowling Alley. Aside from a couple of newspaper mentions the following month, the league appeared to be very short lived. It’s unclear where in Selkirk the bowling alley was, but the history of the building at 212 Manitoba Avenue suggests that it was constructed around 1929 on the site of a former bowling alley.

The three best-established, stand-alone bowling alleys were Victory Lanes (1941 to 1961), Selkirk Bowling Lanes (1961-1976), and Selkirk Bowling Centre (1987-Present).

Victory Bowling Lanes (1941-1962)

231 Manitoba Avenue

Victory Bowling Lanes was established in 1941 at 231 Manitoba Avenue. It featured four lanes, a snack bar, and a five-room residential suite in the back. Early ads for Victory Bowling Lanes featured both five and ten pin bowling. Subsequent ads and news coverage of tournaments and league play suggest it became a five-pin only alley.

The first owner was Harry T. Lea of Selkirk, who also operated a bowling alley with the same name in Virden.

Lea and his family came to Canada and settled in Selkirk from Acton, Middlesex, England as a child in 1901. He met Lily Anne Macdonald, originally from Gonor, and the two married at Old St. Andrews Church in 1910. They had five children. The bowling business was a second career that Lea started in his late 50s after years as a nurse at the Selkirk Mental Hospital.

Citing poor health, the Lea’s sold the Selkirk Victory Bowling Lanes in 1952 and moved to Virden, where one of their children lived. The Virden Victory Bowling Alley burned down in 1954.

The next owner of Selkirk’s Victory Bowling Lanes was Bob Jenkinson, who moved to Selkirk to take it over on August 1, 1952.

Jenkinson was born in Toronto in 1901 and grew up in Parkdale, Manitoba, where his family farmed. He was a veteran of the First World War — his attestation papers suggest he lied about his age so he could enlist when he was 16.

Not much is known about Jenkinson or the bowling lanes in the years he ran it. He died in June 1957 at the age of 56, leaving his wife, Elsie, and three grown children. The trophy for the winner of the Selkirk commercial five-pin league was briefly renamed the Bob Jenkinson Memorial Trophy.

The next owner was E.L (Laurie) Randall of Selkirk. In January 1961, he leased out the Selkirk Victory Bowling Lanes to Crawford Palmer to manage.

In 1961, Selkirk sold a parcel of land on Main Street to a developer who wanted to build a modern, eight-lane bowling alley. It opened in October of that year.

Despite the new competition, Victory Bowling Lanes continued running. One thing it specialized in that the competition didn’t have was children’s bowling on Saturday afternoons. The last mention of Victory Bowling Lanes was in a December 1962 article in the Selkirk Enterprise which covered Selkirk Youth League bowling scores. The same edition of the newspaper also carried a ‘for sale’ ad by a Selkirk realtor for a bowling alley matching the description of Victory Bowling Alley, though the town is not mentioned.

Randall converted the building into Top Hat Billiards, which opened on February 9, 1963. It was Selkirk’s first ‘mixed’ pool hall, meaning men and women could play together.

Selkirk Bowling Lanes (1961-1976)

240 Main Street

In April 1961, Selkirk’s town council put the finishing touches on a deal to sell a 200 x 350 foot property on the corner of Main Street and Reid Avenue for $10,000 to a developer who wanted to construct a new bowling alley and the town’s first A&W drive-in restaurant.

The developer was William “Billy” Mosienko, the Hockey Hall of Famer and owner of Mosiekno Lanes on Main Street in Winnipeg. He retired from hockey at the end of the 1958-59 season after playing 14 seasons in the NHL and four in minor leagues. As a new retiree, Mosienko was looking for new business opportunities.

The land deal with town council was finalized in August 1961. By that time, construction of the $58,000 building was already underway by Walsh Construction of Winnipeg. It featured eight Brunswick automatic five-pin lanes, a snack bar, air conditioning, a children’s playroom, and ‘beautiful gold and white décor’.

Notices began appearing in the Selkirk Enterprise in mid-August of that year advertising that the lanes would open in October and be operated by George Kozun and Sons, who leased the building from Mosienko.

George Kozun came to Manitoba, likely from Poland, in 1927 at 27 years old. His wife, Mary, came the following year. They had two sons: John and William (Bill).

Kozun operated the six-table C.P. Pool Room located at the back of the C.P Hotel on the corner of Eveline Street and Manitoba Avenue for nearly 30 years. In 1960, he put the business equipment up for sale so that he could retire.

Selkirk Bowling Lanes opened on Saturday, October 14, 1961. Bowling fans were invited to meet championship bowlers Ollie Hyndiuk and Bob McEachern, who bowled a three game exhibition series against each other. Billy Mosienko was also present.

Selkirk Bowling Lanes offered mixed league bowling in the evenings, youth league on Saturday mornings and a lady’s league on weekday afternoons that included free babysitting.

In the early 1970s, Mosienko sold the property to the owners of the neighbouring A&W franchise to concentrate on his Winnipeg-based businesses.

George Kozun passed away on August 17, 1975 at the age of 75. The lease on the building was not renewed the following year and its content were sold to Brandon’s Recreation Lanes.

In 1977, the building became Selkirk Bakery Ltd., which operated under the trade name ‘Baker Boy’. It was owned by the Waterman family. Tom Waterman was the manager and Frank Storimans was the chief baker. The large bakery made everything from breads and pastries to wedding cakes and perogies.

The building was put up for sale again in April 1985. In July 1986, it was purchased by Home Hardware, which opened that December after $100,000 in renovations. Starting in the late 1990s, it became a series of movie rental stores including Gone Hollywood, Superior Video, and Movie Gallery. In 2011, it became Gramma Carol’s Gourmet Bulk and Health foods store.

Selkirk Bowling Centre (1987-Present)

510 Sophia Street

After the closure of the Main Street building in 1976, Selkirk was without a bowling alley. Most of the estimated 200 to 300 league bowlers in Selkirk ended up joining Winnipeg teams or a ladies league in Stonewall.

The Triple S Development Corporation — a regional economic development organization — surveyed Selkirk residents in 1985 to see what amenities they wanted in a new downtown mall. A bowling alley was at the top of the list.

A follow-up survey in 1986 about the recreational needs of the town showed that 85% of respondents wanted a bowling alley.

A bowling alley was an expensive proposition. A Winnipeg owner-operator estimated that a ten-lane facility (built from scratch) would cost around $1 million.

Triple S spoke to several potential suitors, but a chance encounter in British Columbia resulted in the deal.

The Purvis family was on a ski holiday in Fernie, B.C. in 1986. Ted Purvis, a Selkirk ship builder, was also a member of the Triple S board. Near their hotel was a bowling alley and Ted and his wife Sharon decided to check it out. They were impressed with what they saw and met Alf and Joy Quattrin — Alf’s company built bowling alleys and Joy operated them. They had lanes in Fernie, B.C.; Blairmore, Alberta; and were looking to add a third location in Lethbridge, Alberta.

After their visit to B.C., the Quattrins came to Selkirk to see the town. Their visit led to an announcement in April 1987 at the Triple S offices that they would build a bowling alley in an existing warehouse at 510 Sophia Street. It would contain 12 five-pins lanes, a snack bar, and a lounge. The cost was thought to be between $400,000 and $500,000. The Quattrins moved their family to Selkirk to operate their new business.

The maple wood lanes arrived from Alf Quattrin’s company in B.C. in late June 1987 and installation began right away. The Selkirk Bowling Centre opened in late November 1987 with Mayor Bud Oliver bowling the first ball. At the time, the Quattrins told reporters that more than 800 bowlers had registered for leagues.

Sadly, Alf Quattrin died in April 1995 after a single vehicle accident. He was 55 years old.

Jay Quattrin, Alf and Joy’s son, moved from Fernie to Selkirk to help his mother run the alley after his father’s death.

Joy retired in 2015 and Jay continues to operate the business today.