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The Bowles of Canada and their Roots in Ireland and Great Britain

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Bowles Family of Quebec City

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Emigrants from Ireland

The Bowles family of SouthEast Laois/North Carlow seems to have been fairly extensive but little is known about them so far.  Land deed memorial records and parish records of St. Mary's Church in Carlow town and of Castletown church in co. Laois (then called Queens county) indicate that the family was in the area from the 1720's to the 1820's.  See The Bowles of Ballickmoyler, co. Laois and The Bowles of Carlow.  Several of these Bowles and their families emigrated to Canada.  See The Bowles of Ballickmoyler in Canada.

One branch of these Bowles passed through Quebec City and settled in Ontario county, Ontario and another emigrated initially to Quebec City but soon moved on to New Orleans, Louisiana.  However, two brothers, John and Joseph Bowles, decided to stay and settle in Quebec City.


John Bowles and Ann Mills

They were born and married in Ireland where they had 7 children, four of them in Dunleckney, co. Carlow.  (see: The Bowles of Dunleckney, co. Carlow and Some Notes on Trying to Trace Ann Mills

Their family is listed as # 569, a party of 9, in a record of 709 families in Carlow and Wexford preparing to emigrate from Ireland to Canada in 1818*.  It's not known if that had been their intended destination in Canada but their port of arrival in Canada would have been Quebec City and that was where they settled. 

* Return of Protestant Families preparing to emigrate from the Counties of Carlow and Wexford in the ensuing Spring. Refs November. 1817. Ottawa Branch News, Ontario Genealogical Society, Vol. XXIX, No. 5 (September-October, 1996), pp. 162/78

Joseph Bowles and Jane Feltus

They were married at St. Mary's Church in Carlow town in 1808 where they also baptized their first two children by 1812.  Three more children were born to them in Ireland between then and 1827.

Pigot and Co.’s Provincial Directory of 1824 lists a Joseph Bowler, boot and shoemaker on Bruin Street in Carlow City.  This is probably Joseph as he was a shoemaker and there are no other references to Bowlers in Carlow town at that time.  See Joseph Bowles of Carlow and more on the Feltus Family of Carlow.


Quebec City

John is first on record in Quebec City in April 1820 signing a lease for the house on St. John Street in the Upper Town of Quebec City where he would operate his shoe store and in which the Bowles family would live for the next 25 years. (see: John Bowles Family Tree and John Bowles Children)

John’s brother, Joseph Bowles was born in Ireland in 1772 and was still on record in 1827 in Ireland.  He first appears in Canada in April, 1829 as a witness at John Bowles’ grandson Thomas’ baptism.  He must have liked what he saw as he returned to Ireland, sold his house and possessions in Carlow town and emigrated to Canada with his family in the spring of 1831. auction notice from Carlow newspaper

Both brothers were shoemakers.  Joseph was operating a shoemaker shop by 1834 (ref. Court of Queen’s Bench file # 1348/1834 and 1415/1834).  This occupation was passed on down through two more generations in Canada so, likely, John and Joseph’s father in Ireland was also a shoemaker. (see: Joseph Bowles Family Tree and Joseph Bowles Children)

Note: for simplification, the John Bowles in this family have been denoted:

John for the senior John
John Jr.  for his son John
John*  for John’s brother Joseph’s son John
George John for John Jr.’s son John


St. John Street (today Rue St-Jean)

In the 1800’s St. John Street was the main merchant street of Upper Town Quebec City which was the portion of the city within the walls of the Citadel.  It ran from the St. John Gate in the Citadel’s walls for about 4 blocks ending at Fabrique Street.

Soon after their arrival in 1819, the family moved into apartments on St. John Street on May 1, 1820 where John soon opened a shoe making business on the first floor and they lived in three rooms on the second floor.  Sometime in the 1830’s, John retired from his business but John Jr. took it over and continued to operate it until 1844.  In 1825 John’s son Thomas was apprenticed to Robert & Alexander Haddan, carpenters and upholsterers at 43 St. John Street.  In 1839, Thomas Bowles was operating his own carpentry and upholstery business at 21 St. John Street in partnership with James Mackenzie.  His brother, Robert, went into the grocery business and opened his shop nearby at 44 St. John Street in 1844.  This was not the same location as the shoe store as George Scott was listed as the previous tenant of the building.  John and John Jr.’s leases were signed in 1820 with Dr. William Edward Holmes and later with his widow Ann Johnson while Robert’s leases were from William Henry Roy.  Robert operated his shop from 1844 until he ran into financial trouble and closed the business in 1850.  When John Bowles Jr.’s son, George John Bowles, started work as a clerk at the Quebec Provident and Savings bank in 1852 he lived at 22 St. John Street.  As late as 1865 there is a Court of Queen’s Bench case (file # 1602/1865) between Joseph Bowles and Lapointe regarding a property on St. John Street so the family may still have had an interest in one of those properties as late as that.

Fabrique Street

Fabrique Street runs at an angle right off the end of St. John Street.  Joseph Bowles’ son Joseph Jr. became a pharmacist and opened an apothecary shop on Fabrique at the corner of St. Famille Street about 1840.  Later references for his shop give the address as #2 Fabrique, the Upper Town Marketplace on Fabrique and as #24 Fabrique.  He may have moved or they may have just renumbered the street.  About 1861 he moved his pharmacy to a new location at #11 D’Auteuil Street.  When the pharmacy was listed as at #2 Fabrique in 1844, the same directory lists William Bowles, boot and shoe maker at #1 Fabrique Street.  Sarah Bowles husband, Wilcock LeCheminant had his grocery store at #4 Fabrique Street.

This site was last updated 03/17/21