Family Histories

Below are some short, personal anecdotes from the lives of some residents of Bowness. These are a sampling of the many family histories documented in the Society's book, "Bowness: Our Village in the Valley".

Bill Harrison

Bowness Store and Taxi[In 1948] we bought out Mike Kasher and named the spot Harrison's Bowness Store and Taxi. The store itself was a busy [place] ... when Bowness Park was open. Soft drinks, wieners and picnic supplies sold like hot cakes. Ice cream sales kept our help busy. They would spell each other on the ice cream scoops. Our help mostly consisted of local married ladies ... . Our coffee counter usually had a selection of home made pie, made by my mother. One custumer, a Red Detmer from Silver Springs, would come in and eat a whole flapper pie or a whole brick of ice cream. Our main line of business was local Bowness people in need of groceries and other merchandise.

When Bears Paw Dam was built we had a number of [dam] employees living in trailers in our back yard. ... One of the truck operators named Reg Cransten had a heart attack; we placed him in a taxi and rushed him to Calgary General Hospital. Unfortunately Reg died prior to our reaching the hospital. The hospital refused to take him, we proceeded to the Leyden Funeral Home and they also refused to take him, as we had no death certificate, so back to the General Hospital where we eventually got a death certificate and returned to Leyden's Funeral Home.

Uma (Green) and Howard Allen

New Years Flood, 1951In 1951 Uma Allen bought 1172 Bow Crescent, Bowness from Earl and Kay Hatfield ..... The Allens had farmed at Hillmond, Sask. During the war, Uma was the matron for the Edmonton City Police. She became a registered practical nurse and worked as a nurse companion for some well-known people as well as matron at the Bonnyville Youth Home and Ogden Men's Hospital. Uma and Howard had 8 sons, 5 of whom served in the armed forces in WW2. All returned safely. Uma and youngest son Dave were both home the night the Bow River flooded their home just before New Years Eve 1951. All her pictures etc. were covered with water. She worked for years trying to salvage what she could.

Howard worked on the building of the Alaska Highway during the war, then for the Diamond Match Company in Idaho. He retired in 1961. In early 1964 they sold their property and moved to 5831 Bow Crescent where they lived until 1969 when they built a home at their son's farm near Strathmore. In 1977, at ages 83 and 84 they moved to Peace River, AB to be near son David and family. They resided there until they each passed away at age 93.

Bowness in the 1940s

By Kathleen Emily Dawson Lust

Kay remembers what it was like in the early days. The east end of Bowness was known as Critchley. There were dirt roads and no sidewalks. Wells were dug to provide the family's water and there were outside toilets. People had coal and wood stoves to heat the house and to cook with. There was no electricity and people used coal oil lamps for lights. The families had huge vegetable gardens and Kay canned to store food for the winter. Art travelled to work on the street car to Calgary. The trip took one hour. The last street car left Calgary for Bowness at 11:30 p.m. If you missed it you had to walk. Art and Kay missed it a couple of times!

There were two theatres, the Rex and the Bow. The Bow gave little prizes away. The girls usually went to the Saturday matinee at the Bow. The Rex was also used for dances. Kay went once and said that was enough! Kay said her children enjoyed growing up in Bowness.

Times were different then. You didn't have to worry about your children as you knew all the neighbors and everyone looked out for all the children. Children had a lot more space to play in as there were few houses and fewer fences to keep you out. They were happy days!


If you have found these brief stories interesting, our book contains much more information. Order Form.

The Society would like to thank Mr. Len Watt for the photograph of his grandfather John Hextall, Bill Harrison for the image of the Bowness Store and Taxi, Steve Ryckman and Linda Conlin for the image of Bowness Valley, Dave and Debbie Allen for the image of the New Year's Day Flood and The Calgary Herald for the image of Baker Sanatorium taken by Ian Christie.

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