New Brunswick

Beer and bowling: 58-year-old Fredericton landmark gets major revamp

Fredericton's 58-year-old bowling alley reopened on Saturday after major renovations that kept it closed for the summer.

Fredericton's Bowl-a-Drome gets new name, new look after close to six decades

The 58-year-old bowling alley opened for the first time on Saturday after major upgrades. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Fredericton's 58-year-old bowling alley reopened over the weekend after major renovations that kept it closed for the summer.

The Bowl-a-Drome, now called The Drome, welcomed people back on Saturday to see the new look. 

Trailway Brewing bought the bowling alley last year with plans for a remodel.

"It's definitely a really proud moment being in here right now and kind of seeing where it was back in May to where it's come to now," said Trailway co-owner Jake Saunders.

Before Trailway bought the business last September, the alley was known as the oldest facility in Canada under single ownership. Saunders promised the candlepins would stay.

The entire ceiling had to be redone because of smoke damage. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Saunders added beer taps and a new menu in the hopes to make the place more popular on the weekend. 

"The bowling bar, it's a cool concept because this place has always been really busy Monday to Thursday," he said. "There isn't a whole lot of bars probably in the country that could say they pay their bills Monday to Thursday."

Out with the old

Tim McFadzen, a bowler for more than 50 years, remembers when the Bowl-a-Drome first opened. He said there hadn't been much change there since he started.

"The reno, it's well overdue," he said.

The Bowl-a-Drome was built in 1961 and has been the oldest bowling facility in Canada under single ownership. (Submitted by Trailway Brewing)

McFadzen said he's happy with the upgrades and he's sure when league members come in for their first string on Thursday they'll feel the same.

Saunders said some of the seniors in the bowling league there where concerned with Trailway's purchase. They worried it would change their beloved bowling spot. 

"I ended up spending a lot of time here from September on, and getting to know the seniors and really just reassuring them, like 'we'd be crazy to get rid of you guys,'" said Saunders. 

New look

It took a lot of work to remodel the building, which Saunders said hadn't seen much work since it opened in 1961. He said basically all that's left are the bowling lanes.

Jake Saunders said it puts a smile on his face to know he owns a bowling alley. (Philip Drost/CBC)

"They smoked cigarettes here for years and years, right, so it wasn't a white drop ceiling," he said. "It had almost turned yellow from the cigarette smoke. They still had the smoke eaters in the ceiling."

Max Moore has been bowling for three years. At the opening on Saturday, he got his first strike.

He said he'll be coming back, but he doesn't expect to get anymore strikes. 

The Drome has a seating area for people who just want to have a couple drinks and eat some food. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Alexandre Gagne had never really been into bowling, but was lured to the alley with the promise of craft beer. 

"I've been waiting for months for this to open up," said Gagne. "It's simple, it's to the point, you know it's craft beer and bowling all together."

Saunders said the league rates will stay the same, except for some of the weekend prices. 

"It does make me smile every time I think about it, being fortunate enough to say, 'I have a bowling bar,'" said Saunders.  "It's something that's going to bring a lot of joy to a lot of people for years to come."

About the Author

Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.