Bowles DNA Project
The Bowles Family of Quebec
City and John
Bowles' Family Tree
When William married Catherine Sparrow in 1826, his occupation was given as shoemaker. He was probably working at his father’s shoemaker shop on St. John Street at that time as the 1825 Census listed the Bowles family as still living together in the same house on St. John. From 1826 to 1836 William and Catherine lived in Quebec City. The 1831 Census shows William operating the family’s shoemaking shop on St. John Street while his father has moved to another shop on St. Joseph Street (also in the Upper Town). In 1837 they moved with their two children (Thomas Goodwin and Mary) to Bourg Louis, a community just north of the city. A third child, Peter Langlois, was born there in 1837 but then Catharine died in 1839 shortly after the giving birth to twins, who also did not survive. The 1842 census lists William back in the Upper Town with a shoemaking shop on Fabrique Street (at the end of St. Jean Street). By then he had also married again to Laura Waldron although this marriage is not recorded in any of the local church registries. The 1844 Quebec City Directory lists William Bowles, boot and shoe maker at #1 Fabrique Street. Perhaps as a result of the major fires which devastated Quebec City in June, 1845, William moved his family to Bytown (now Ottawa) in 1846 where he operated a boot and shoe store for a few years. He was a founder of the first library there when the Bytown Mechanics Institute was formed in 1847 and a committee of 11 members including William Bowles was charged with drawing up a constitution. In July 1847, Bytown’s first Board of Health was appointed by the Governor-in-Council to consist of 4 Reverend Representatives of the church, 4 Doctors and eight local businessmen including William. The 1851 Ontario Directory lists William Bowles, Boot and Shoe store on Sussex Street, Lower Town, Bytown. Two more children, Robert and Henrietta Sarah, were born there. They then moved to Brighton, Ontario by 1851 (Con. 1, Lot 1 in 1851 census; Lot 14 West of Young St. after 1861; also described as the corner of Young St. and Sanford St. north of Main St.) where they had Ellen and Harriet Annie. The 1871 census of Brighton lists him as a shoemaker but he did not have his own shop as the Schedule 6: Return of Industrial Establishments does not list his shop but does list two other shoemakers in Brighton who had employees working for them. William died of sunstroke in Brighton, Ontario in 1879 at 78 years of age and Laura died 4 years later.
Sarah Bowles LeCheminant
In 1832 Sarah married Wilcock LeCheminant who had a grocery on St. John Street near her father’s shop. According to several sources, the British LeCheminant’s originated from Huguenot settlers in the Castel Parish area on Guernsey in the Channel Islands. The name is still common on Guernsey. Wilcock gives his own place of birth as the Isle of Wight which is not too far from Guernsey. They also seem to have moved to Bourg Louis in 1837-38 as the birth of one child and the death of another is recorded there but in 1842 (and until 1844 at least), their grocery was located on Fabrique Street near her brother William’s shoemaking shop so the two families probably moved away and then back together. When her father died in 1840, her mother lived with them until her death in 1852. Wilcock and Sarah had five children but only one survived past childhood. Sarah died in 1857 at age 55. Wilcock remarried twice after that and died in 1886 at age 82.
Advertisement in Le Journal de Quebec, Thursday, Dec. 1, 1842, p.4 (also Dec. 17, 1842 and Jan. 31, 1843)
Detailed ad for LaCheminant’s store at 4 rue La Fabrique (includes fruit, honey etc.)
Mary Bowles Watt
John’s daughter Mary married another grocer, John Watt, in August1833 but John declared bankruptcy on Oct. 10, 1833. His possessions were quickly seized by his creditor, Thomas Levallee. However, Mary and John had previously signed a marriage contract specifying that Mary would continue to hold several items of furniture and “other chattels” as her own property. Mary took John to court swearing that he “became and was unsuccessful and unfortunate in the management and conduct of his mercantile and other affairs and concerns” and “was greatly injured and ruined in his fortune”. This was in order to obtain a separation of property ruling from the court in order to obtain her property back from John’s creditors. She was successful in having her possessions seized by the bailiffs from Levallee and placed with her brother, William. Apparently, the possessions included the grocery store itself as the court also ruled that at William’s recommendation, she was capable of running the business herself and she was permitted to continue running the grocery. It’s impossible to establish what the relationship between Mary and John was at that time but they had four children together from 1836 to 1846.
On January 8, 1825 John Bowles signed an agreement with Robert & Alexander Haddan, carpenters and upholsterers to accept his son Thomas for a 5 year apprenticeship. In 1839, Thomas was in partnership with James McKenzie operating as McKenzie and Bowles cabinetmakers (ref: Court of Queen’s Bench file # 2176/1840) at 21 St. John Street. However, they quickly got into financial trouble by 1841 and lost the shop to a creditor in March 1842. Thomas then opened his own business from his home on St. Stanislaus Street (a 2 block long street which crosses St. John Street) and by 1843 this had become a pianoforte making business. The April 18, 1843 issue of Le Journal de Quebec printed the following notice: Mr. Thomas Bowles, maker of pianos, offering to sell two magnificent pianos of his making. From May to June 1843 the same paper printed advertisements for Thomas Bowles, piano maker, # 7 rue St. Stanislas, Haute-Ville.
Thomas, cabinet maker, was sued for £25 in 1842. From that suit we have a copy of his entire list of purchases made in 1841 from L. Ballingall & Co., Importers at # 6 St. John Street. It appears Thomas’ wife, Elizabeth de Verna, must have operated a dress making business in addition to Thomas’ cabinet making work. The bill includes felt, flannel, satin, buttons, ribbon, edging, lining, twilling etc. with purchases throughout every month of the year. If she was just sewing for herself and her family, they went through a lot of clothing!
John Bowles Jr.
John Jr. probably worked for his father until some time in the 1830’s when he took over the business (probably in 1837 when his brother, William, left the shop in Quebec city and moved to Bourg Louis). In 1836 he married Margaret Cochrane and they had three children (George John, Jane Ann and William Cochrane) when they left the shoe business and moved to Trois Rivieres in 1844. There, Mina, Charlotte Elizabeth, Joseph and John Haslett were born before they returned to Quebec City in 1851. Between 1851 and 1858 they may have lived in Ottawa but by 1858 they had moved to join his brother, William, in Brighton, Ontario. The 1871 census of Brighton lists him as a merchant.
See the separate Robert Bowles Family History document.