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Memorable Manitobans: Mary Braybrook Gowler (1816-1878)


Brn in Lincolnshire, England on 20 October 1816, she married Oliver Gowler. They eventually had fourteen children, including merchant James R. Gowler. The Gowlers came out to Red River in 1836 where Oliver was to operate the Hudson’s Bay Company’s experimental farm. They arrived late in the year and wintered at Fort York. Tradition has it that when the food supply became low the party snowshoed three hundred miles to Norway House, and that Mary Gowler, frail and unaccustomed to snowshoes, started ahead and snow-shoed until dark to keep up with the rest of the travellers.

After the death of her husband in 1865. Mary Gowler lived on at their prosperous farm, which became a stopping place for the early Methodist missionaries in the Canadian west. She was one of the first Methodists to settle at Red River. She died on 9 March 1878.

Oliver and Mary Gowler are commemorated by Gowler Road in Winnipeg.


We thank Charlie Lamb, great-great-grandson of the Gowlers, for additional information used in this profile.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Profile: 21 December 2008

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