According to Wayne Kelly, author of "The Crokinole Book," and Canada's "Mr. Crokinole," the game of crokinole appears to have developed in rural Canada in the 1860s. In French Canada the game is also known as pichenotte. "A unique blend of several older English, French, German, and East Indian games, crokinole has been an enduring family favourite for over 150 years. While many rules and variant playing methods have developed throughout North America, it appears that one basic set or pattern of acceptable rules has emerged from it all. The following, then, is the distillation of what seems to be the most common, popularized, ‘settle-the-squabble’ rules for fair, enjoyable crokinole play." For dozens of other regional variations, manufacturer’s specific rule choices, tournament rules and unique games to play on the crokinole board, please consult The Crokinole Book (Wayne Kelly, 1988, Boston Press), or http://www.crokinole.com. You can view the basic rules on the "rules" webpage.
The question 'Why is this board round?"often arises when folks see a round board. More often we have seen a crokinole board in an octagonal shape, especially commercially made ones. Interestingly, the earliest Canadian boards were round and the octagonal shape didn't show up till the late 1800s and early 1900s in both the northern US states and in central Canada. The oldest crokinole board with provenance is round, and hangs in the Joseph Schneider House in Kitchener, Ontario, dated 1876. I like to make both round and octagonal boards, and favour the round ones due to their uniqueness and ease of construction. The game was highly popular in the Victorian era, in the days before radio, TV, and the electric light became household staples. The last 30-40 years has seen a resurgence in interest for table games such as crokinole, no doubt due to its highly social element, and easily gained skills (and some luck too!), making it playable by anyone between the ages of 6 and 106.