Thomas Ryan

Inventor of five-pin bowling

Born: 1872
Died: 19 November 1961

In 1905, Tommy Ryan opened the first regulation tenpin bowling alley in Canada on the second floor of the Boisseau Building in Toronto. It was an elite and private club with a piano, a string orchestra, and potted palm trees. When customers complained about the size and weight of the tenpin balls, Ryan had his father reduce the size of the pins to approximately three-quarters of the originals. He spaced five of them equally apart on the tenpin triangle and used a hand-sized rubber ball to knock them down. He also devised a special scoring system for the new game.

Five-pin bowling is unique to Canada and very popular. Thomas Ryan was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, ten years after his death.

More information on:

Five-pin bowling

Sources include:

Kearney, Mark, and Randy Ray. The Great Canadian Trivia Book. Toronto: Hounslow Press, 1996.


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Added 14 April 2002.