Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William James “Billy” Rowe (1872-1947)

Journalist, lawyer, cleric.

Born at Consecon, Ontario on 3 July 1872, son of William Rowe and Catherine Quackenbush, he was educated at Consecon Public School, Trenton High School, Picton Model School, Ottawa Normal School, St. John’s College (Winnipeg, 1902), and the University of Manitoba. He taught school at Ottawa in early life, holding teaching certificates for Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. At the time of his marriage, on 29 December 1898, to Clarissa Graham of Ottawa, he was teaching at Prince Albert, NWT [now Saskatchewan]. In 1902, he was ordained a priest in the Anglican faith, serving as Rector of St. John the Baptist Church in Manitou (1902-1909), and building two churches.

In 1909, he purchased The Manitou Western Canadian, a weekly newspaper and worked for many years as its editor and publisher. He served as President of the Manitoba Division of the Canadian Weekly Newspapers Association (1942-1943) and President of the Canadian Weekly Newspapers Association (1943-1944). Starting in 1909, he articled in law under Gordon F. Bradley and was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1912. He established a law practice at Manitou, purchasing Bradley’s practice in 1923. During the First World War, he helped to raise the 184th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, holding the rank of captain and serving as paymaster until 1918. He served on the Manitou town council and school board. An active Conservative, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Parliament in the 1925 and 1926 elections. He was a member of the AOUW and IOF.

He died at his Manitou home on 30 October 1947 and was buried in the Manitou Cemetery.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. John the Baptist Anglican Church (252 Hamilton Street, Manitou, Municipality of Pembina)


Canadian Expeditionary Force, Attestation Papers, Library and Archives Canada.

Marriage registration, Ancestry.

Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.

“Manitou publisher, William J. Rowe dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 October 1947. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B9]

“William J. Rowe funeral Monday,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 October 1947, page 27.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 9 February 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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