‘It’s home’: Meet the woman keeping Terrace’s historic bowling alley alive — for now

Click to play video: 'Terrace bowling alley hopes to get the ball rolling on a new location'
Terrace bowling alley hopes to get the ball rolling on a new location
A bowling alley in Terrace has been in business for almost 70 years. They have welcomed many people through their doors but with a lease that is up in three years, there is concern they will have to move to stay in business – Nov 13, 2023

Theresa Moffat can trace her love for Terrace, B.C.’s, only bowling alley back to her childhood.

Her brother, 20 years her senior, used to set pins there for 10 cents per rack. She herself started bowling there at age 14, while her husband began at age three.

Back then, it was called Barney’s Bowl, but today, it’s the Terrace Bowling Centre.

“We’ve been bowling here a long time,” she tells Global News, sitting at the head of the lanes against a backdrop of blue and white pins.

“It’s home … I have a lot of memories here and it’s going to be hard to see it go.”

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Moffat estimates the building is more than 65 years old. It’s got leaks, spots of rotten wood and a number of other repair needs, but keeping the place together is a labour of love for her and her husband, whom she describes as a “jack of all trades.”

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The couple who owned it previously had it for 47 years, but sold it when they wanted to retire. In 2019, the City of Terrace bought the land and building, intending to turn it into a much-needed parking lot and fire hall.

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Moffat says she and others couldn’t bear to see it go, so when the contents of the bowling alley went up for sale, she and her husband bought all of it.

They became its new proprietors, and in a Facebook post at the time, the City of Terrace said it was pleased.

“We know and appreciate how important the bowling alley is to our community, so we are all happy we were able to come to an agreement,” the municipality wrote.

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Moffat says the city gave her a three-year lease with the option of renewing for a fourth. At the three-year mark, she and her husband asked for the extension, and instead, a second new three-year lease.

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The contract end date, however, casts a shadow over the centre’s operations.

“We’re working on our fourth year right now and we’re going to have to find some place to either move the bowling alley into a building that’s already there, or buy a piece of property and build something to move it into, or just shut it down,” Moffat says.

The best-case scenario would be to move the Terrace Bowling Centre into a new space, she adds, and the worst-case scenario would be total closure.

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Terrace is a stunning city in northwestern B.C., located near the Skeena River and sandwiched between the Hazelton Mountains to the east and the Kitimat Range and Coast Mountains to the west.

Its population hovers around 12,000, and as the only bowling alley in the city, the Terrace Bowling Centre is a popular place to be. It hosts many cherished community events, including birthday parties, staff parties, seniors nights, youth nights, women’s coffee evenings, and more.

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“We have six leagues that start in September and go through till April, so that brings in a lot of people,” says Moffat. “In the winter time, on a Friday and a Saturday night, if you don’t book a lane, you’re not going to get one. We have waiting lists.”

It’s a cherished space; when the property was sold to the city and slated for shutdown, Terrace’s seniors banded together to persuade the city to give it a second lease on life.

If and when the alley is lost, Moffat says many of those folks will be “a little displaced.” One woman has been bowling at the alley for more than 50 years now, she adds.

“This might be the only exercise they do, and believe me, bowling is exercise,” Moffat says, her dog Mocha — another regular at the alley — sitting on her lap. “I’m definitely going to miss it.”

Nevertheless, she says the space’s memory will live on in the plaques, trophies, medals, t-shirts, balls, shoes, and other memorabilia that have graced Terrace homes for decades.

“Originally this was an army barracks,” she says. “There’s a few buildings left that are like this … it’s part of our heritage, it’s memories.”

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