Nova Scotia

New Membertou bowling alley revives sport in Sydney area

The sound of bowling balls crashing into pins and dropping into gutters has returned to the Sydney area.

Bowling leagues called to book lanes even before construction started

Cosmic bowling at Lanes at Membertou. (Holly Conners/CBC)

The sound of bowling balls crashing into pins and dropping into gutters has returned to the Sydney area.

A new 16-lane bowling alley is set to open Wednesday on the Membertou First Nation.

Chief Terry Paul admitted his bowling arm is a little rusty as he took a few throws for members of the media Tuesday morning. But he said the fact that Sydney has lacked a local venue in recent years provided an opportunity for his community.

"After the bowling lanes closed down at the Sydney shopping mall, there was a lot of talk about something missing in the community," he said. "And there was a number of people, especially the avid bowlers ... kept coming to me and asking me, 'Why don't we look into the idea of building a bowling alley up in Membertou?'"

So the band did a feasibility study. 

Membertou First Nation Chief Terry Paul is shown at the community's new 16-lane bowling alley. (Holly Conners/CBC)

"We found out the interest was amazing," said Paul. "So we felt that it was the right thing to do, and fill a gap that's been here for quite a while."

Bowling leagues were calling to book lanes even before construction started, he said.

The new Lanes at Membertou combines the old-fashioned candlepin style of bowling, which has traditionally been popular in Cape Breton, with a state-of-the-art automatic scoring system. It also boasts three multi-sport simulators and a full-service restaurant and bar.

"They're not bowling alleys anymore, they're more family entertainment centres," said general manager Joanne Johnson. "They're selling an experience now, rather than a string of bowling."

Joanne Johnson is the general manager at Lanes at Membertou, which opens Wednesday. (Holly Conners/CBC)

The facility cost a little over $5 million and employs about 60 people.

Its opening has created buzz throughout the community of Membertou and beyond.

"We had the elders here yesterday, and they were just absolutely blown away by it," said Paul.

"I believe it's been an anticipated building for quite a while by the young and old, and it's tremendous excitement — not only in Membertou, but all the surrounding area."

About the Author

Holly Conners is a reporter and current affairs producer who has been with CBC Cape Breton since 1998. Contact her at