Family Histories
of the Swan River Valley
Manitoba, Canada
Pioneer Centennial
History Book
100 Years in the
Swan River Valley
1898 - 1998

Herbert and Elise Bowman

My parents Herbert and Elise (Rapley) Bowman came from England. My dad sang for Queen Elizabeth I, before he left for Canada.

Herbert came to Ontario and worked there for awhile and then to my uncle Nelson Rapley’s in 1912, where he married Elise May Rapley in 1913. A son was born Oct.4 1914. Our first homestead was where the S curve is 4 miles east of Swan River, where Lawerence Eisner Sales are, and John and Carol Diduk now live. The road runs through the one side of the Quarter, where his well used to be.

Later, on Nov.11,1918 a daughter Kathleen May was born. (now deceased at age 61.)

While living here he dug many a well by hand for the farmers. In later years they moved to the 1/4 section NE 12-36-27w where the Hubchers Flower gardens were, now owned by Harvey and Caroline Baldwin.

This is where I, Mabel was born, Sept.27, 1931 ( the weather was very hot that day), my mom told me in later years. My dad also helped the farmers do their harvest and worked on making the new bridge over the Roaring River (south) by where the Betchers now live. This is where Mabel and Elise Tall decided we should make us a mud cake and use the fresh eggs from the barn. Until we got caught!!

Then later on another move was made when I was seven. We moved down the road to the south onto a 10 acre field and in 1940-1945, my dad joined the army in the Winnipeg Grenadiers, and was taken prisoner of war for five years from 1940-1945. When this was over it was called victory over Japan. He saw some terrible hardships there. One thing I remember well was his cigarettes were broken in half, half for you and half for the Japanese. You were fed eggs that had been buried in the ground for years, and ribbon fish. These are just some things you were fed besides rice and bananas.

While dad was in the army we lived in Swan River, where I got my schooling. When he came home the V.L.A. gave them land to settle on. We were placed in the Floradale district, across the road from Clarence Baldwin’s farm for 16 years.

In 1960 my parents moved to Swan River which was by a river and the Shadbolt green houses.

My dad always had a good garden. There he grew a thousand onions (spanish) for the family and friends.

I went out west and married Fred Rathje. We had four children. Susan married in Saskatoon and 1 boy and 1 girl. Henry is still living on the farm and isn’t married. Colleen married Don Ames of Minitonas. They have 3 girls. Perry married in Sask. and has one girl. My husband died Nov.27,1963 of cancer at the age of 38 years. I did farming there for nine years. Things were to change for me so I went home to Swan River to take care of my parents. Mom died July 7, 1970 at the age of 75. Dad died Aug.15, 1978 at the age of 88. My sister Kathleen died Apr.5,1980 at the age of 60. My brother (John) Robert died Aug.15, 1994 fifteen years after his father. I lived in Minitonas for some years. On Dec.12, 1981, I came to the Todosichuk farm where I married my first friend some 40 years later, and we farm together here. I have some chickens and sell eggs to a lot of people. I also have geese on the farm now.

We still live on the farm now. John came to Manitoba with his parents Andrew and Martha Todosichuk to the farm in 1942 at the age of 8. The farm is 7 miles east of Minitonas. He worked in the field walking behind horses and the harrow. When they came here, there was only 10 acres cleared. The rest his parents and he cleared. They had live stock such as pigs and chickens on the farm. It was a very hard life for all in the early years. No one could have large acres like they do now. My dad was a Legionare for 39 years in Swan River. He laid the wreath for the Hong Kong Veteran each Nov.11.

Submitted by: Mabel (Bowman) Todosichuk


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.