Memories of Queenston Bowl


Queenston Bowl was located at 108 Queenston Road where it started out as Blondie’s Lunch. In 1955 it converted to 10 lanes with five and ten pin bowling on the same lanes as pin boys were used.

To the right of the front door were the shoe counter and coat rack and to the left were the control counter, ball rack, snack bar and pinball machine. Between lanes five and six were support posts so that those two lanes were separated more than the others. Over top of the counter was a television and the washrooms were downstairs beside lane one. On the wall was a blackboard titled Hi Score Club and one of the scores in 1960 was a 215 by Mary Bihary Scandlan, who is still active on the lanes today.

Behind each scoring table were two six-foot long wooden benches with two-foot high backs. To “dress” the lanes, you “dusted” them with a broom, then used a bug sprayer filled with oil, then a rag to spread it over the lanes evenly. At the front of each scoring table was a round ball, which when rotated, was made wet. There were also two towels attached to dry your hands. They were mainly used by five pinners.

Pinboys were paid six cents a game for five pins and 10 cents a game for tenpins, the highest in Hamilton as most others were two cents less. To set the pins on the proper spot, they stepped on a lever and up popped spikes on which the pins were set. The ball return was above the lanes. Most pinboys looked after two lanes, but if nature called, one of them would have to do four lanes. The price was about 30 cents a game. Do to the original rules for five pins, it was possible to roll a minus game. That never happened, but a zero game was recorded once.

The original owner of Queenston Bowl was Carl Balon from Krakow, Poland. He graduated from Stanislaw College in 1937 and during World War II was active in the Polish Underground. He spoke six languages and in 1944 went to England and then to Canada in1949. In 1951 he opened Blondie’s Lunch and in 1955 Queenston Bowl was opened. At the same time Balon operated Hamilton Travel Bureau on James Street North, later moving to Barton Street East. There were only two tenpin leagues there, the Tiny Tens on Tuesday and Queenston Mixed on Saturdays.

After league bowling was finished for the night, the pinboys took turns setting pins for each other. Some of the five pin leagues were Barber, Teenagers, Liquid Air, Comstock, Firestone and Neighbourhood. During the 10 years Carl owned Queenston Bowl, before selling to Frank and Joe Pastrak, tenpin bowling increased in popularity and saw the opening of the 48-lanes Hamilton Centre Bowl and the 24-lane Skyway Lanes.

At the end of each season, Carl hosted a party for all his pinboys at his 24-acre Winona home, complete with tennis court and swimming pool. Due to hardships during the war, a saying of his was “Eat and drink. Don’t you remember when we didn’t have anything. Eat and drink, life is short”.

On one of Queen Elizabeth’s tours of Canada, she passed by Queenston Bowl and Carl was out front waving a Canadian flag. He was inducted into the Tenpin Hall of Fame in 1982 and passed away in 1999.

His obituary was prominent in the Hamilton Spectator on June 12, 1999 as he was a decorated member of the Polish Underground, a childhood friend of Pope John Paul the Second, a pillar of Hamilton’s Polish community and helped start the revival of five and tenpin bowling in Hamilton.