O’Connor Bowl has been a treasure of East York since 1952.
Its closing this week marks the end of an era.
February of 2010 saw the passing of the bowling alley’s founder, John Martin. Stafford Developments purchased the property in 2011 and a seven-storey mixed use commercial and residential development was approved for the site at O’Connor Drive near Bermondsey Road in 2013.
O’Connor Bowl has been run on a year-to-year basis since the purchase.
“It was like we were sitting in limbo wondering when it was going to hit. And then all of a sudden we were told it was going to be closed,” said Mike Gorman, manager of O’Connor Bowl.
Gorman has managed O’Connor Bowl for the past 27 years. He was told about the alley’s closure on Monday.
“It’s sad. The people who worked here, we were raised by John. We were all friends and family here,” said Gorman.
“O’Connor Bowl served people of all ages across the province who came to bowl. It will be sadly missed,” said Ward 31 Beaches-East York Councillor Janet Davis.
The East York community will have its last chance to say its final farewells on Friday, June 5. It will be the last day the bowling alley will open its doors.
Stafford Developments, a division of Goldman Group, applied for a rebuilding application to construct the mixed commercial and residential structure and were approved for a site plan. Davis said Stafford Developments has sold the property but company officials were unavailable to comment with regards to the new ownership of the property.
It is unknown if the new owners will continue with the original plans proposed or reapply for a rebuilding application.
The Tuesday Ladies Bowling League led by Myrt Seyler, 90, has been bowling at O’Connor Bowl for the past 50 years.
“It’s breaking my heart. It was just like going home when you went there,” said Seyler.
Through the years the O’Connor Bowl saw the history of East York unfold through the gathering of numerous bowling leagues.
“My father bowled there for many years, he used to play on a provincial team. “The thing that’s sad is that there are still a few leagues that still play there,” said Davis.
Seyler bowled there for half a century.
“I have bowled there for over 50 years. It’s a shame to just take it away from us,” Seyler said.
Seyler is the head of the Tuesday Ladies League, and she said she was shocked to hear the league would no longer be bowling there after this Friday.
“We knew it was coming but we thought we were OK for another year. Right now we don’t know what we’re going to do,” Seyler said.
From avid bowlers in the community to the local councillor, a sense of nostalgia is triggered by the closing of the bowling alley.
“O’Connor Bowl is a part of the cultural heritage of East York,” said Davis.
Gorman is not sure what life after O’Connor Bowl will entail.
The former manager is sad to make his last farewells on Wednesday.
“I’m just taking it day by day. It will hit me tomorrow. It won’t be reality for me until tomorrow,” Gorman said in an interview on Tuesday.
Seyler is a beacon of optimism for the Tuesday Ladies League as she remains hopeful her bowlers will find other leagues to continue playing in, but is sad to see the O’Connor Bowl go.
“It doesn’t seem right, not seeing it there anymore. You can’t find another one like it,” said Seyler