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The Bowles of Canada and their Roots in Ireland and England

My Story

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about me - a brief autobiography

Why This Web site?

What started as a search for my grandfather's ancestors has grown into a monster.  The family story was that Alf Bowles came from an English background and somehow England was not that far back in the story.  His father's name was George so I started by searching for a George Bowles in England in the mid-1800's.  Well it looked like there were hundreds to pick from but none of these seemed to use Alfred as a family name.  Having no idea how to narrow those possibilities down I went back to where every good genealogist should.  Talk to your oldest relative about the oldest relative they can remember.  Well Grandma always said that George Bowles had died while working on the construction of the Peterborough Lift Lock.  That at least gave me a place to start.  Eventually, as the research crawled along through census records and microfilms from the Ontario Archives I learned that George was born in Quebec City (what?), gave his ancestry as Irish (really?) and his death certificate gave diabetes as his cause of death (there goes a good family story shot down in flames!).  So much for relying on memories.  So now, Bowles in Quebec City!  There couldn't have been too many there! 

Well I found none using Internet resources but there seemed to be Bowles in every corner of Ontario and some in Quebec particularly north of Quebec City and in Montreal.  Finally a trip to the National Archives of Quebec resulted in a gold mine of information (my thanks to the excellent staff there) yielding two more generations of my family in Quebec City (George's father was Robert a grocer and Robert's father was John a shoemaker, both inside the walls of the old city) going back to the early 1800's; plus about 40 other Bowles family members.  Several of these looked familiar and looking back through my earlier notes, they were many of those Bowles scattered across Ontario and in Montreal.  Gradually the pieces fit together connecting up Bowles in Brighton, Ontario, in Ottawa, in Ontario county, North Simcoe, Victoria county...and all of them Irish!  References to counties Carlow and Laois in Ireland became a pattern for "my" Bowles and others who I couldn't connect came from there as well or nearby.  Some with children born in Quebec City (were they connected to  mine?) and some who seemed to just arrive from nowhere but still from Carlow or Laois.  Perhaps connected to mine only back in Ireland.

So there was nothing for it but to start collecting all of these Bowles in some manner, sorting the pieces of the jig saw into little piles (MS Word documents) and eventually fitting more and more pieces together.  Finally I found myself sending out more information in response to questions on the forums than I had coming in.  It was amazing how some of my notes benefited other people out there, tearing down brick walls in many cases .  What was obviously needed was some way to collaborate with other "Bowles in Canada" researchers so that others out there could more easily check what I had found and could see what I was missing.

My hope is that with the help of other Bowles researchers this site will serve as a central repository for people who share my interest in the Bowles families of Canada to tell their stories in Canada and as far back as we can trace their history before their arrival. 

Just pumping my data up to this site will be a major project for me so my first effort will be to publish my raw data so that others can be made aware of it.  Sorting out, documenting and publishing my sources for this information will take much longer.  I caution everyone to take information from this site as being to the best of my belief but some of this comes from other unverified sources.  I cannot guarantee that everything here is 100% correct but I will not intentionally publish a guess or assumption without commenting that it is an assumption on my part.  I will not be able to provide individuals with my sources in most cases until those records are all sorted out.  Please, independently verify this information before accepting it as facts.  Hopefully, I can at least give you some new possibilities to focus on!

All suggestions, challenges, corrections, new information etc. are very welcome.  If there are conflicting theories/facts I would like to present both and let the reality sort itself out over time.

There is no room for politics, race or religion on this site except where it serves to sort out the various threads of the story.


This site was last updated 04/13/13