Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Johnstone Dowler (1887-1951)

Grain merchant.

Born at Winnipeg on 4 March 1887, son of James Dowler (1846-1924) and Margaret Sutherland (1856-1948) and sibling of James Andrew Dowler, Minnabell Anne Dowler, and Kathleen Elizabeth Dowler (1895-1986, wife of Harold E. Riter), he attended Winnipeg public schools and entered the grain trade in 1903. He started with the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange Clearing Association when it opened in 1904 and later became its Assistant Manager. In 1912 he became associated with the grain firm of Parrish & Heimbecker, rising to Executive Vice-President. During the First World War, he was a Lieutenant in the 90th Winnipeg Rifles and served overseas. Returning from military service, he rejoined Parrish & Heimbecker and also served as Vice-President of the Superior Elevator Company and Lombard Investment Company, and a Director of the Traders Building Association and the Northern Trust Company. He was the President of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange (1936-1937).

His activities in the community included being Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Shriners’ Hospital for Crippled Children, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Young United Church. He was a member of the Masons (Assiniboine Lodge), Manitoba Club, and Winnipeg Winter Club; Potentate of the Khartum Temple and President of the Winnipeg YMCA. He was an alderman of Brooklands. He was active in athletics early in his youth, holding several Manitoba championships. He was the individual high point winner at the Manitoba Olympic trials in 1908. Later, he was Secretary of the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Amateur Athletic Association.

He died at his Winnipeg home, 127 Handsart Boulevard, on 14 April 1951 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.


Birth registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“James Dowler, pioneer, dead,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 24 November 1924, page 5.

“W. J. Dowler, grain executive, dies at home,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 April 1951.

“W. J. Dowler funeral Tuesday at Young United,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 April 1951.

Obituary [Mrs. Margaret Dowler], Winnipeg Tribune, 16 February 1948, page 3.

We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 2 April 2018

Memorable Manitobans

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