The Bowlerama Royale, nestled along Dundas Street in London, Ontario, was a vibrant 32-lane bowling alley. In 2015, the building, previously known as the London Furniture building, was purchased by Mark Decman and Brenda Dotterman.
According to a former employee, Brenda and Mark purchased Bowlerama from Jack Fine’s son-in-law. Jack passed away in 2013/2014 and his son-in-law inherited the business but didn’t want it.
The revamped establishment boasted 32 ten-pin lanes, a bar area, indoor golf facilities, escape room, and a sporting goods store named “Bowlers on a Roll.” Here, bowling enthusiasts could purchase bowling gear and accessories.
Embracing both recreation and competition, Bowlerama Royale hosted various leagues, including the youth-centric Bowlerama Royale Youth League. Notably, they awarded scholarships to commendable players, supporting their educational pursuits.
Before becoming Bowlerama, the building housed several other recreational past times.
It began as Brunswick Town Bowl in the early 1960’s. In 1967, due to financial issues the owners added a small roller skating rink named Imperial Skateland (owned by the Chaplin family). When the owners fell behind on tax payments, they moved out before the bailiff seized the property in January of 1968.
The building was then rented out in March of 1970 to the former owners of Brunswick Town Bowl. The building was eventually sold to Thunderbird Roller Rinks who then sold to the Roller Palace Chain. The roller skating lasted from 1977 to 1987.
Bowlerama was one of the many businesses that suffered from the Covid pandemic as they had to remain closed. When partial restrictions were lifted in 2020, the business’ occupancy was limited to 50 occupants and many bowlers wouldn’t have returned. In August of 2020, the owners announced that the bowling alley would not reopen.
As for the building today, it’s now gutted. The owners, Drewlo Holdings, allegedly plan to put new housing on the site of the former bowling alley
Whenever I was in London, I’d make it a point to drive past here hoping to see a way inside. During one visit, security showed up. They explained that they have cameras and you’re immediately revealed in their ‘war room’. The guard suggested I should try contacting Drewlo for permission to explore.
I contacted Drewlo who said that due to “liability purposes”, I wouldn’t be able to take photographs inside. You can imagine my frustration when one day I drove by and saw vehicles outside and the doors open!
It wouldn’t be until one night in late 2023 that I returned to see if there were any changes to the property. I parked off site and walked in to the back. The doors have cement pillars in front of them and everything is locked. I was there no more than sixty seconds and walked back to my car. As I drove past the building, I chuckled as I saw the headlights of a security car that had just pulled up to the back of the building where I’d just been.
Since Drewlo didn’t care about my attempt to archive history and denied me permission, here are hand sketches that I made of what the interior might have looked like had I gotten inside. <sarcasm> 🙂