Since it opened in the 1970s

The search continues for a perfect game at North Island Lanes

The Port Hardy institution's fall league is underway

The art of knocking over five pins with one ball is alive and well at North Island Lanes.

Not that anyone has perfected the art – no one has ever bowled a perfect game there since it opened back in the early 1970s. But it is not for lack of trying.

Aron Esau has been bowling since 1986. And though he’d never admit it, several of his fellow athletes said he’s been North Island Lanes’ top bowler for decades, rolling to 250s – out of a perfect 300 – in his heyday. Esau, who lives in Holberg, is down to the 220s now, but he’s still a fixture at the Lanes. He taught this reporter about the history of the game, which was invented in the early 1900s in Toronto. It was easier on the body and quicker to play – people could get a game in during their lunch hour, he explained.

Esau also demonstrated what might be the most important part of the game: ribbing one’s fellow bowlers when they screw up. North Island Lanes erupted in song every few minutes last Sunday whenever someone was the only bowler to fail to knock over a single pin in a round.

“Here’s to __, they’ve got class, they just bowled like a horse’s a**. That’s alright, that’s okay – we still love them anyway,” they sing whenever a woman misses all the pins. If a man does it, the lyrics change to “nobody loves them anyway.”

But there’s friendship in the air at the Lanes, said longtime bowler Larry Bruner, 80.

“I just look forward to getting together with everybody here and throwing a few balls.”

There are several leagues in action this fall – for seniors on Tuesdays from 1-3, mixed leagues on Wednesday and Sunday from 7-10, and a drop-in on Thursdays from 7-10.

There are 13 teams so far this year, including the Sandbaggers, the Dipsticks, the Nightshifters, and Spare Ballz.


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