Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Henry “Squire” Sowden (1823-1907)

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William Henry Sowden
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Born at Hamilton Township, Ontario on 1 September 1823, the eighth of sixteen children born to William Sowden and Maria Varley, he was married twice. On 1 May 1847, he married Mary Eliza Gore (?-?). They had one daughter, Mary Maria “Minnie” Sowden. He married Mary Ann Ashford (?-?) on 8 May 1851 and they had one son, William Frederick Sowden. He headed a party of settlers from Millbrook, Ontario who intended to claim homesteads in western Canada. The group consisted of Sowden, John N. Kirchhoffer, S. G. Fairblough and several other capitalists. They arrived in St. Boniface in April 1881 then headed west. Arriving on the banks of the Souris River, they established a community that would eventually be named Souris. Sowden built the first of the famous swinging bridges over the river that remain a hallmark of the community. He died at Souris on 26 April 1907, and was buried in the Souris-Glenwood Cemetery.

See also:

Stroll Across Our Swinging Bridge by Mrs. V. H. Sangwine
Manitoba Pageant, April 1957

Early Days in Souris and Glenwood by Alice E. Brown
MHS Transactions, Series 3, Number 10, 1953-54 season

Settlement in Southwest Manitoba, 1870-1891 by Thomas R. Weir
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1960-61 season

One Town's Team, Souris and Its Lacross Club, 1887-1906 by Morris Mott
Manitoba History, Number 1, 1981

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Souris Swinging Bridge (Souris, Municipality of Souris-Glenwood)

MHS Resources: Manitoba Bricks and Blocks: People


A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

Every Stone a Story: Manitoba’s Buried History

by Charles Brawn and Dale Brawn
Great Plains Publications, 2008.
ISBN 978-1-894283-79-3

We thank L. D. Laird for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 12 May 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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