Bowles DNA Project
My Grandfather Alf Bowles' Story
Back to The George Gilley Bowles Family
Alf Bowles' family tree is included in his grandfather's Robert Bowles Family TreeSee also The Thomas Jackson Story
Alf, the eldest of three boys, was 16 when his father, George Bowles, died in Midland, Ontario in 1903. This photo of the three brothers was probably taken shortly after that. The 1911 census shows Alf's brothers in Midland with their mother and sisters but Alf is absent. According to Jack Snider in his Shipping column in the June 26, 1963 Fort William Daily Times that when Alf Bowles 'came to Fort William in 1913 he was already a man versed in Great Lakes lore. Before going into business for himself here he had been an employee of other men in the marine grocery trade along the St Mary River.' That would have to have been in Sault Ste Marie where Alf is listed in the 1911 census as a lodger at the Grandview Hotel, occupation: Grocer. His sister, Georgina, and husband Lewis William Lee had also settled in 'The Soo'.
Alf's first business was a grocery store on Finlayson Street in 1913. Pictured here are his brother Clarence and their mother, Jane Gilmour Bowles, and 'Molly' in front of Alf's first store.
This store and Alf's next two locations were not successful but in 1917 he opened The Marine Grocery - Ship Chandlers which he would operate until 1961 in partnership with his brother Clarence from 1920 to 1955 and with brother Stanley from 1923 to 1934.
In 1915 Alf married Ethel Jackson, the daughter of Thomas Jackson, the third generation of his family to bear that name and whom I, Tom LaPorte (the author of this site), was named after. See The Thomas Jackson Family
Alf and Ethel with their daughter Marion and son Harold in the 1920's and 30's and a 3 generation photo with Marion, her mother Ethel and Ethel's mother Louisa Chillman Jackson about 1923. They're standing in front of a 1922 Essex Super 6 2-door sedan which was the first American more 'afforable' closed in car. Having one would have been quite the status symbol. The car in the picnic picture looks similar but is a larger 1930 Hudson 2-door sedan, truly a status symbol and a sign that the store was doing well.
Note that the first picture shows them standing in front of their first home at 120 Cameron Street. In the background to the far left is the corner store at Cameron at Simpson where the Bowles Brothers store was from 1916-18.
Their ChildrenMarion was born in 1917. She graduated from the McKellar General Hospital School of Nursing in 1941 and then worked in that hospital during the war years where she nursed wounded soldiers, both Canadian and prisoners of war. In 1940 she met Ben LaPorte, who was working as an inspector at the Canada Car plant where they were building Hawker Hurricane fighter planes. They married in 1942 and started their family in Fort William but moved back to Ben's home town of Inwood, Manitoba in 1947 where Ben took over the operation of his father's service station.
Harold was born in 1925. During the Second World War he served as a tail gunner in Lancaster bombers. While based in England he met and married Betty Barnes. They returned to Fort William where Harold worked for his father at the Marine Grocery and took over its operation when Alf retired in 1961.