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The George Gilley Bowles Family

Back to The Robert Bowles Family

George was the 4th child and 3rd son of Robert Bowles and Elizabeth Ray of Quebec City who had settled their family near Cameron in Fenelon township in the 1850's.  While most of his siblings would marry in Fenelon but then move on to Tiny township to settle George would remain in Fenelon.  When the family first arrived in Fenelon George would have been about 10 years old.  About that time the Glasspel family arrived from the Isle of Wight to settle in Fenelon.  One of their sons who was the same age as George, Thomas Glasspel, married his sister Caroline (Carrie) Bowles in 1870.  On the marriage registration Thomas gave his occupation as wagon builder.  By then George was a wagon builder as well.  In fact by the time of the 1871 census, Thomas and George, both now 25, were doing business as the Glasspel and Bowles Wagon and Sleigh Shop in Cameron town. Schedule 6 of the census records that the business had a workforce of 2 male employees (themselves), that their plant was powered by hand and horse power, that they had 8000 feet of oak, pine and spokes on hand, that their declared product was wagons and sleighs although their production so far was left blank.  They were not the only such shop in town as there were several blacksmiths, carpenters and even two other wagon builders (Andune Calder (38) and John Holmes (34)) in Fenelon township plus a few of the ads in the Fenelon Gazette noted that other local supply shops also sold wagons and sleighs.  They were renting one 1/2 acre lot in town on which they had a dwelling house, their shop, the Wesleyan Methodist Church plus a pen with one pig.

There is some confusion at this point though as the 1871 census gives Carrie's husband's name as James Glassbel although their marriage registration in 1870 stated and was signed by Thomas Glasspel and the history of the Methodist church there states that it was built on Thomas Glasspel's land.  Another problem is that when Thomas died in nearby Coboconk in 1874 the local paper stated that he had recently arrived there, had been ill for some time and that he had left a wife but strangely it also stated that he was a photographer.

There is a Glasspel family story that Thomas had been seriously injured in a barn raising accident and that Carrie had married him at his bedside but that he had only lived for a further few weeks.  That story doesn't seem to fit the recorded events but could have been true if it was James the wagonmaker that Carrie married in 1870 and who the census taker recorded in 1871, possibly not being aware of his decease (that's a weak point), and that Carrie had then married Thomas by the simple expedient of having the 1870 bedside marriage, which probably had not been registered with the county yet, registered and signed by James' brother Thomas who was a photographer.  The 1861 census does show that the Glasspel family had sons Thomas and James only two years apart in age.

George would then have been without a partner in the wagon and sleigh shop but may have taken on Samuel Todd as following Carrie's husband's death in 1874 she would marry Samuel Todd, a wagonmaker, in 1877.

George married Mary Jane Glasspel in 1873 and children, Arthur, Effie and Bertha were born but Mary Jane died of consumption (Tuberculosis) in 1881.  George married Jane Gilmour of Peterborough in 1883.  When their first child, Georgina, was born in 1884 George was a carriage maker in Cartwright, Ont.  From the time his son Alfred was born in 1887 until the the 1901 census George's family lived in Lindsay, Ont where sons Stanley and Clarence were also born.  During that time his occupation was given as wagon maker, carriage maker and carpenter.

George died after a 2 year bout with diabetes in Midland in 1903 leaving Jane with their daughter Georgina, 19, and their three sons ranging in age from 16 to 12 and his daughter Bertha, 23, from his first marriage.  This picture of his sons was probably taken shortly after his death.

The move to Midland may have been for his medical care.  Jane was still in Midland with Stanley, a salesman, Clarence, a machinist, and Bertha, a dressmaker, in the 1911 census but Georgina had married in 1909 and settled in Sault Ste. Marie where we also find the eldest, Alfred, a lodger at the Grandview Hotel, where he gave his occupation as a grocer.  It seems he was employed by a marine supply company learning the ship supply business before moving on to Fort William.  Jane, Stanley and Clarence would later follow Alf to Fort William and Bertha would move to Brandon, MB and then to Winnipeg where she trained as a Registered Nurse.

This Bowles family story continues with Alf Bowles' Story, Stanley Bowles' Story and Clarence Bowles' Story and with a branch into the Lee family with Georgina.

Note: there is also a family story that George worked for a time as a Singer Sewing Machine Salesman but I can't find a time where that might fit in.  Further research may yet find out.

George Bowles' Other Children

George's eldest son Arthur would marry and settle in Caledonia, Ont. where I understand he was a Creamery Manager but would remain childless.

His next born, Effie, would marry George Belch in Lindsay and initially settle in that area.  After George's death Effie and other family members would move to Aberdeen, South Dakota.  I've tried to contact members of this line but so far without success.

According to Bertha's obituary she first learned the trade of dressmaker in Toronto, then moved to Brandon, MB.  That would have been after 1911 when she appears in the census as a dressmaker in Midland, Ont.  The obit goes on that she moved to Winnipeg in 1917 where she entered the Sick Children's Hospital School of Nursing where she graduated in 1922.  (note: that would actually have been Winnipeg's first Children's Hospital and Nurses School and Residence at 131 Aberdeen St.) She had a long career as a public health nurse in Winnipeg, retiring in 1947.  Bertha passed away in 1970 having remained a spinster.

In Tribute to George Bowles

This poem was written by George's daughter Georgina likely in Midland, Ontario during his battle with diabetes in the last two years of his life. 

To Father

Father's hair is getting thin,
his teeth are old and few.
But somehow you forget these things,
when he smiles at you.
You only see the crinkle,
beside those kind grey eyes.
You only feel the loving,
That his smile implies.
When he comes in to dinner,
and we all sit around,
the hour bright with chatter,
new interests we have found.
He lets us do the talking,
in our impetuous way,
until we have all finished,
then he has his say.
He stands for all the better things,
that make our little sphere,
home, honour and security,
our hearts, shall never fear.
What matters though depressions on,
or if the bank should break,
we have no fear, when father's near,
he is our one big stake.


This site was last updated 02/10/21