StettlerLocal.com February 11, 2021
Heartland Bowl has had many people come through its doors since 1978 when Ray and Edith Plante opened the five-pin bowling centre. Bob Gallaugher bought the business from the Plante’s in 2006 and has operated it for more than 14 years. Many league bowling games, and championships have been played, tournaments held, and family celebrations have happened during Gallaugher's time. However, Heartland Bowling Centre is now for sale.
Gallaugher ran the Wetaskiwin Bowling Centre for 20 years before leaving to work for a few years in a welding shop and then heard from a senior in Wetaskiwin that the bowling centre was for sale in Stettler. He bought Heartland Bowl with his former business partner, Bill White, who decided a few years back to get out of the business and travel.
Gallaugher and a friend developed a Pro League that is normally a Western Canadian Bowling Tour that wasn’t possible due to the pandemic. The Pro League incorporated 12 teams from across Canada with Stettler being the smallest team in the league and sooner or later they will play those teams all virtually by setting up cameras on the bowlers and scoreboards to bowl 1-on-1.
“My prouder moments are bringing up kids through the YBC Program (Youth Bowling) and seeing them go onto provincials winning gold and silver, and they have held a few teen provincial championships with their YBC Program. I’m good friends with many of these now grown and former YBC kids, and many have won major titles and national championships over the years. I’m proud of the 400 Club on the wall, and there’s been 10-400 club members during my time here.” - Bob Gallaugher
Heartland Bowl was having a really great year then the pandemic hit. Gallaugher initially applied for the federal small business loan during the first shut down and again during the second shut down and is using this money currently to pay overhead costs. He’s worried if this goes on much longer how he’s going to pay the money back. He’s applied for the recent provincial grant funding that’s available but hasn’t received a response yet.
“When things get back going, it will be easier for me and all bowling centers in Alberta. A lot of the bigger centers are struggling, and I’m friends with many of them. I want this place so bad even if I sold it to remain a bowling business, and a small town needs it. Winter sports are hockey, curling and bowling and the hockey and curling rinks are owned by the community having people run them. Every bowling center in Alberta and across Canada are privately owned. When we’re down like this, it’s hard on families and I know many that are greatly impacted.” - Bob Gallaugher
Gallaugher's family that live out of town help during special occasions, and he also has friends that assist. He is legally blind so not able to drive but he hasn’t let that impact his ability to operate the business, coach bowlers and do many other great things during his career. Owning the bowling center has been his passion for the past 14 ½ years, and he hopes it will continue with a new owner.
For more information, visit the Heartland Bowl Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Heartland-Bowl-455987547787148
Jody Craig, Reporter