MHS Smarty Party: 20 October 2022

Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: David John “Dave” McDowell (1938-2019)

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David John McDowell
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Educator, historian.

Born at Brandon on 17 September 1938, only son of Herbert Watson McDowell (1906-1967) and Dorothy Flora Webb (1912-2013), he grew up on the family farm, attending South Brandon School and Little Souris School to grade 9, then Brandon Collegiate to grade 12. He was involved with the First Baptist Church and was a Scout leader for several years. He trained as a teacher for a year at Brandon College then began a 37-year teaching career at Moore Park School.

He taught in the Brandon School Division, at Fleming School (1959-1961), Park School (1961-1963) and George Fitton School (1965-1966), while completing a BA degree in historical geography at Brandon College, working under John Tyman, and graduating in 1967. He moved to Winnipeg where he taught geography, anthropology, and history at Westwood Collegiate (?-?) and John Taylor Collegiate (?-?).

He spent seven years with Distance Education out of Winkler. During this time, he received an MA degree in historical geography from the University of Manitoba, with a thesis entitled “Settlement and arboreal vegetation change in the Carman-Morden area of southern Manitoba” (1981). He served since 1974 on the Board of the Manitoba Social Science Teachers Association and he contributed a chapter on the history of Assessippi for publication in Manitoba Geography. As of early 2005, he was semi-retired, teaching in the Education program at the University of Winnipeg.

On 18 July 1964, he married fellow teacher Linda Moore of Elkhorn. They had no children.

An active member of the Manitoba Historical Society, he served as a Western Manitoba member on the MHS Council, and joined the Executive Committee in 1968. He chaired the Margaret McWilliams Award committee and became part of the Executive who worked with Steward Martin and Dr. Shaw to see Macdonald House (Dalnavert) restored and opened. He served as President (1976-1978) and was, until 1980, on the MHS Museum Management Committee, which was responsible for the operation of Dalnavert Museum. Since then he served on the Centennial Farm Committee. He chaired Heritage Winnipeg for two terms (1981-1985, 2001-2003), was Manitoba Governor of the National Trust for Canada (1997-2003), and served on the board for the Manitoba Museum. His Carpathia Publishers published, among other documents, the research on Ukrainian settlement in Manitoba by Michael Ewanchuk. He co-wrote with John C. Lehr the 2011 book Trailblazers: The Lives and Times of Michael Ewanchuk and Muriel (Smith) Ewanchuk.

In recognition of his community service, he received the Canada 125 Anniversary Medal (1992), a Heritage Winnipeg Distinguished Service Award (1993), and the John Welsted Award from the Prairie Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers (2012).

He died at Winnipeg on 18 June 2019.

His articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:

Honorary Secretary’s Report
MHS Transactions, Series 3, Number 28, 1971-1972 Season

Honorary Secretary’s Report
MHS Transactions, Series 3, Number 29, 1972-1973 Season

“On With The Dance ...” - Historic Balls in Manitoba
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 21, Number 4, Summer 1976

One Hundred Years Young
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 24, Number 4, Summer 1979

Areen Mulder
Manitoba History, Number 7, Spring 1984

See also:

City’s heritage hero: McDowell considered founding father of historic-preservation movement” by Christian Cassidy, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 December 2015.

Audio interview with David McDowell on Winnipeg’s early heritage preservation movement, West End Dumplings Radio by Christian Cassidy, 19 April 2015.


“Lodge honors Linda Moore,” Brandon Sun, 17 July 1964, page 5.

Obituary [Herbert W. McDowell], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 July 1967, page 28.

Obituary [Dorothy Flora McDowell], Winnipeg Free Press, 9 November 2013.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 22 June 2019.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 7 June 2021

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