Bowden family was dedicated to hospital and community – Reflections of Ponoka

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Bill and Rose Bowden

Bill and Rose Bowden

Like so many of our parents and grandparents, William Bowden and Rose Naunton chose to leave their English homeland to seek opportunity and adventure here in Canada. After completing their education in the ‘old country,’ they embarked on separate journeys across the ocean, arriving in Alberta in the 1920’s, seeking employment in the new land. It would be 20 years later that their paths would cross here in Ponoka, where they would eventually marry, raise their daughter, Winnifred, and together enjoy many happy years working at the Provincial Mental Hospital, as well as being actively involved in the community.

Bill Bowden was born in Hastings, England on March 19, 1887 and would later serve in the armed forces in France, Italy and Egypt during the First World War. After immigrating to Canada in 1920 he made his first home in Fort McLeod, then moved to Calgary to further his education in power engineering, followed by employment with the provincial government. In 1936 Bill moved to Ponoka to work as a power engineer at the Alberta Hospital, a position he held until his retirement in 1952, when the family took up residence in Ponoka, where he was employed as a building inspector until 1962.

Rose Naunton was born in London, England in 1903, then as a young lady ventured to Canada in 1919, eventually settling in Edmonton, where she was initially employed as a tailoress with Great Western Garments and Johnston Walkers. In 1932 she moved to Ponoka and would work as a seamstress at the Provincial Mental Hospital until 1940, when she married William. After guiding their daughter, Winnifred, into her teenage years, Rose returned to the work she loved so much, and served the busy hospital sewing department until her retirement in 1968.

Winnifred Bowden was born in Wetaskiwin in 1942, and the fondest memories of her childhood included living and growing up with her parents in the duplexes on the grounds of the Provincial Mental Hospital. After completing her education at the Ponoka Composite High School, Winnifred went into nursing training at the Provincial Mental Hospital, affiliated with the University of Alberta Hospital in 1962, and then graduated from both schools of nursing in 1964. After working for several years at the Ponoka hospital, Winnifred married Doug Evans in 1967, and were later blessed with two children, Shannon and Trent. The family moved to Lethbridge in 1970, where Mrs. Evans was later employed as a psych nurse at the Lethbridge Regional Hospital until her retirement in 2005.

She married Michael Tomaszewski in 1999, enjoys pursuing her hobbies of genealogy, photography, and scrapbooking, and together they love pampering their large extended family, travelling, and visiting with old friends.

Memories of the early years in and around Ponoka

The Bowden family was also dedicated to their community, with Bill and Rose offering many years of faithful and heartfelt work in all facets of the St. Mary’s Anglican Church and the Royal Canadian Legion. Their spare time hobbies always included travelling, photography, and family fun.

Over the years, Bill was active in the St. Mary’s vestry and church choir, served as the chairman of the building committee, and was later awarded an honorary life membership in thankful recognition of his ongoing service. Rose was an avid member of the St. Mary’s Anglican Church Ladies’ Auxiliary, the choir, and the Alter Guild. Mr. Bowden, who was very active in the Ponoka IOOF, CNIB and local civil defence program, also served as president, past president and secretary of the Royal Canadian Legion branch, founded the original Ponoka Legion Band, and was awarded with a Life Membership in 1957.

Mrs. Bowden was a long-time member of the Legion Ladies Auxiliary, the Rebecca Lodge, and the delightful Ponoka Sunshine Singers. Daughter Winnifred followed her parent’s special musical talents, taking piano lessons from Mrs. Orma Byers as a youngster, then later playing the organ at the St. Mary’s Anglican Church and accompanying the High School Glee Club.

Both Bill and Rose strived to enjoy life to the fullest, with William passing away on March 2, 1974 at the age of 86, and Rose Jane Bowden on December 31, 1979 at the age of 76 years.

Among Winnfred’s early and always cherished memories of growing up on the grounds and later downtown are: riding the school bus, many hours on the old, old skating rink, sledding down the hills, picking crocuses and wild berries down at the septic tanks, the fun of the annual ‘At Home’ family Christmas parties, playing games, riding bikes and adventures all over the grounds, watching the creek flood, getting into just a little good clean mischief, and so much more.

Those great neighbours who always watched out for each other were also very special. Among the many friends and playmates that she will never forget are: Sandra, Bonnie and Bev Hughes, Donna and Doug Watson, Marv Roberts, Steve Uylett, Robert and Maurice Stack, Kathy Savage, Mike Rainone, Wayne Oness and Don Bailey, to mention a few.

Winnifred hopes to meet and greet many of them and share the memories at the gala 100 Years of Caring Reunion Weekend at the Centennial Centre and around our community July 29 to 31.