Bowles DNA Project
About me - a brief autobiography
Hello, my name is Tom LaPorte. I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where I'm married with two grown daughters (who have left the nest but live nearby) and three terriers.
I am now retired after a long career, really two very different careers which have had me going back and forth between working with large computer networks locally and internationally and being a political hack. In the very early part of my computer career I played a minor role as a pioneer in the field as, I believe, the first person in the world to run two operator-interactive programs at the same time on a mini-computer system. That was quite the feat at the time, considering the very small size of the computer. That was while I was on the team in Downington, Pennsylvania preparing the 'Burroughs B800 computer with CMS operating system' for its world release in 1975. My programs used the IBM 3270 dumb terminal standard PF keys which were on the old Burroughs operator console I was given to work on. Those keys were not meant to be used on the release version of the B800 but when it was realized, just before the launch day, that my programs, the only two programs available to run on the new computer used those keys, they were quickly added to the new keyboard and renamed from PF1 to PF8 as simply 'f1' through 'f8'. In the absence of anyone else making this claim I believe that I can say that I 'invented' those f keys on your computer keyboard.
In my career as a political hack I worked for 7 years as a Cabinet Assistant for the local provincial government in the 1980's seeing the rise of the NDP to prominence and then after a 17 year return to the computer field I had my second stint as a hack as an Assistant to various northern MLA's for 10 years giving me the opportunity to be a witness to the NDP's self-destruction from prominence to an embarassment.
My hobby and chief interest for the last 30 years has been genealogy. Sorry, family first and then genealogy! Okay, family, work and then genealogy. Oh, and the dogs. Playing Fly Ball with our own terriers and our three grand-dogs has consumed many weekends.
It's no surprise that it has taken a while to get around to actually publishing this information but with retirement since 2017 I'm finally making some good progress. See my New Additions page for the latest pages I've published.
Why would a LaPorte care about Bowles in Canada? Well, admittedly my first research was into my own LaPorte roots which I started working on in about 1985. At that time, with no internet, it was a struggle but the Family History Center was there with their vast library of microfilms and there were some local resources for French Canadian history in nearby St. Boniface which is the largest French Canadian community outside of the Province of Quebec. When internet arrived and genealogists quickly realized the advantages of posting information on it, I discovered the World Association of LaPortes and St. Georges based in Montreal. In a few minutes they confirmed what I had spent 10 years putting together and added a lot more. For a while I became a board member and the web master for that association's web site but have since lost contact with them.
So that's my father's side. My mother was Marion Bowles from Ft. William, Ontario (now Thunder Bay). While Grandpa Bowles died when I was still young, for as long as I can remember I had loved listening to Grandma Bowles' stories of my Bowles ancestors and also her early Jackson family history. When there was no more challenge on the LaPorte side I turned to following up on Grandma's stories. At first the Jacksons drew my interest but I soon discovered the record of Thomas Jackson's arrival at Ellis Island through that web site and filled in the few family details in between. Unfortunately as there were no other family members of Grandma's generation surviving, the Bowles remained a complete mystery until I discovered a very old posting on the rootsweb Bowles surname forum. A William Lee in B.C. had been looking for any information regarding the Bowles family of Ft. William and his email address was still the same. He was amazed to hear from me and had long given up on finding anyone who shared his interest. Having descended from a different branch two generations back I had not been aware of his existence but being one generation older than myself he had personal memories of his grandfather Bowles (my great-grandfather) telling stories of growing up in Quebec City and playing on the Plains of Abraham as a boy. That opened up the doors and after a quick trip to the Quebec Archives in Quebec City, it was more like flood gates opening as the pieces started to fit together.
My thanks to my wife for putting up with all my evenings spent staring at my computer screen and muttering and to my daughters for not fully understanding but not completely ignoring me when I try to impress them with the importance of a major family history find! May they come to realize some day that this is their story too which they can pass on to their children and their children's children so that they may know about and remember us.