of the Swan River Valley
100 Years in the
Swan River Valley
1898 - 1998
Charles and Alice Bowles
Charles and Alice Bowles were born in London, England. They were married in 1889 and immigrated to Canada in 1902 with 4 young children. They sailed on the “Parisian”, landing at Quebec City.
In 1904 the family moved to Manitoba. Following the railroad, they made their way to the Swan River Valley and purchased a quarter section in the Big Woody District.
For several years the district had no church or school. However the Bowles family in their zeal for religious activity, offered the hospitality of their homes to Rev. Martin of Kenville, who spent Saturday nights with them and conducted services the following morning. Alice Bowles made their influence felt in the neighbor hood by attending many a sick bed. When a school was built it was called “Bowlesville School”, but was later changed to the Big Woody School.
As the three older sons enlisted in the Canadian Army during WW1, the Bowles moved to town and for many years Charles was employed as janitor at the school. Both he and his wife were closely identified with the local Salvation Army Corps. Charles was also active in the town band.
Edwin and Gordon Bowles returned to farm after the war, Edwin moved to town after four years. Gordon married Margeret Minish in 1918. She was teaching school in the Big Woody District. They raised a family of five children. Logging, hunting and fishing all helped to supplement the farming income. In 1948 Gordon and Margaret moved to Cranberry Protage to operate a garage with their daughter and son-in-law. They later retired there. Margaret was known for her beautiful flower gardens and Gordon for his crafts.
In 1945 Jim (son of Gordon) married Jean McLaughlin of Dauphin. She was teaching at Egilson District school. Jim took over the farm and they raised three children. Jim spent part of his winters in the logging camps and in summer expanded the farming operation by improving the land. Cattle and hogs became a bigger part of the farm.
Jim’s daughter and son-in-law Donalda and Garry Mills along with Dennis(son) and his wife Maureen(Yeo) farmed together until he retired in 1985. At this time Dennis took over the farm concentrating mainly of cattle and horses. Dennis and Maureen have raised three children, all of them living in the valley. This makes 5 generations of Bowles living in the Big Woody District.
Descendants of Charles and Alice Bowles still residing in the valley are: Hazel Greig (Bowles), Doreen Seidlizt(Bowles), Jim Bowles, Roy Bowles, Carroll Henderson(Greig),Donalda Mills(Bowles), Dennis Bowles, Mark Bowles, Mason Eacott(Bowles), Craig Bowles, Rhonda How(Mills), Michael and Breanna How.
The following is a bit of the history of the Bowles, Grieg, and Henderson branch of the family tree. I am the eldest daughter of Hazel (Bowles) and Irvin Greig, and grandaughter of Gordon and Margaret Bowles. I spent most of my school years growing up in Minitonas, and after high school, went to Teacher’s College in Winnipeg. I taught in Selkirk for a year 1960-61 and then returned home to marry Bruce Henderson in 1961. We have spent our married life on the Henderson home place, farming and raising three sons. Since 1979 I have taught Nursery School in Swan River and it has been a wonderfully rewarding career; (next to being wife and a mother).
Bruce and I both enjoy curling and golf and travelling whenever possible. And for Bruce, life without fishing, would not be complete.
Our sons have all chosen careers other than farming, but still love to get home for a visit and a barbecue.
Kelvin, the eldest, born November 17, 1962, married Darlene Smendzuik of Minitonas in 1984. They live in Winnipeg and are both employed by the Winnipeg Free Press; Kelvin as a supervisor in the ad art department, and Darlene is an advertising sales rep.Jason, born January 7, 1965, moved east to Toronto after university and has settled in Brampton, Ontario, with his wife, Susan Hess, whom he married in 1990. She was born and raised in Toronto, so a Christmas in Northern Manitoba was an entirely new experience for her. Jason is a sales engineer for a commercial heating and air conditioning company, and Susan is a customer service manager for Bell Mobility.
Reid, the youngest, born March 24, 1969, is a general insurance broker and manages an office in Oakbank, Manitoba. He and his girlfriend, Tanya, presently live in Winnipeg, where she pursues her nursing career.
This brings our branch of the family tree up to date.
Gordon Bowles- 1897-1977
James Bowles- married Jean McLaughin
Leone Bowles- married Al Stuart
Doreen Bowles- married Max Seidlitz
Stan Bowles- married Janice Woods
Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. These family histories were a part of the 1998 Pioneer Centennial History Book project. If you would like the history of your area available online, have your historic group contact the Key Rock Group for information on electronic publication. We offer publication free of charge and also provide the option for making your history book available on CD.