Heritage Village, Vineland, Ontario

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There’s a trophy to be won in Heritage Village for croquet- a traditional  pastime for Victorian aristocracy, dressed in gleaming white. Today,  cranky old male gentry, in polyester, with lethal mallets, covered by liability insurance, carry on the tradition. Lawn bowlers and croquet players do not always share green space well. The Ontario Senior Games Association has not yet sanctioned Croquet as an official sport - the lawn bowlers control the turf.  Nevertheless, nine croquet clubs across Canada get along as joint tenants with lawn bowling clubs. 

 Niagara residents have played an important role in Croquet Canada, our national society.  Ann Frost Robinson of Niagara-on-the-Lake and David Lewis of St. Catharines are past Presidents. Bowls and croquet have been Commonwealth games for more than 100 years but croquet did not get formalized in Canada until the 1970’s.  CroqCan is the national tournament since 1987 and three versions of playing rules are used. There is no Seniors division - there's no need.  The Canadian demographics of members are 96% over age 50 and 86% males.  Gone are the days of Victorian courts frequented by young ladies in long skirts, and long mallets to match.

Many of our residents played backyard croquet as children – and we all remember Alice in Wonderland with mythical flamingo mallets and hedgehog balls.  Tournament play is more serious: you’ll need to check the bowling green flatness with a laser level – and spend over $200 for a decent mallet and up to $1,500 for a set of tournament mallets and balls. 

Mallets are of hardwood, most with plain round heads, but experts prefer square heads with protective plastic faces and concentric grooving. Balls should weigh precisely 16 ounces with 3 5/8" diameter. Wicket openings are 3 3/4" for serious play.  The inventor's company, John Jaques & Sons (London) has been the foremost manufacturer since 1852 but we also have a Canadian manufacturer, Oakley Woods Croquet in Brighton, Ontario.


If playing for pleasure in our fields of dandelions is not enough , you can get access to tournament quality facilities nearby at:

  • Royal St. Catharines Croquet Club Ridley College, St. Catharines  Glenridge Lawn Bowling Club
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake Croquet Club.  NOTL Lawn Bowling green (Regent Street & Johnson St)
  • Croquet Roselawn, Stoney Creek.

 Basic Rules

9 Wicket:

Backyard croquet uses a lawn court (100’x 50’) and 9 wickets in a double diamond formation (out 16’ and 20’), with one in center.  Sets of wicket-wicket-stake are placed 6’ apart, with stake 6’ from the boundary. Croquet wickets have to be run in the proper order and in the right direction.Nine wicket: bottom two up, bottom right, center, top right, top two up, stake, top two down, top left, center, bottom left, bottom two down, stake 

6 Wicket:

American croquet uses a smaller court (105’ x 84’) and 6 wickets forming two triangles.  The stake is in the center. Playing order: bottom left, top left, top right, bottom right, bottom center, top center, top left, bottom left, bottom right, top right, top center, bottom center (up), stake

The challenge of standard croquet, is to use your mallet to hit your ball through the wickets and into the stakes before your opponent. The order of play is always blue, red, black, yellow, followed by green and orange if six croquet balls are being used. In teams of two or three players: blue/black/green goes against red/yellow/orange. Each player gets one shot per turn or earn extra shots by scoring a wicket (1 bonus) or  striking another ball, (called a roquet for 2 bonuses). A ball out of bounds, is placed in the boundary in direct line. 

Golf croquet uses the same croquet balls and mallets as other croquet games, but players compete by being the first and only ball to clear each wicket. There are more and varied rules such as the rover ball and “deadness” which we'll leave for experts to define. 

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