Memorable Manitobans: John Maxwell “Jack” Bowman (1925-2005)

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John Maxwell Bowman
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Physician, medical researcher.

Born at Winnipeg on 24 May 1925, son of Dr. Maxwell and Marjorie Bowman, he attended Gordon Bell High School then graduated from the University of Manitoba Medical College in 1949. He completed his internship in medicine and went into rural general practice at Oakville. After two years in Oakville he took post-graduate training at the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg; at the Winnipeg General Hospital’s Newborn Service and Rh Laboratory; and at the Babies Hospital of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre in New York City. Certified in Pediatrics in 1956, he spent a year studying and lecturing in clinical pediatrics at Queen’s University and then returned to Winnipeg in 1957 where he joined his identical twin brother Bill Bowman in the Pediatric Department of the Manitoba Medical Clinic. At that time he also became a part-time associate working with Dr. Bruce Chown of the Rh Laboratory and a part-time member of the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Manitoba.

In 1961 he became Medical Director of the Rh Laboratory and in 1967 he left the Manitoba Clinic to become a full Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Manitoba holding both positions until his retirement in 1996. During this period he served as the Medical Director of the Manitoba Red Cross Blood Services until 1982. Through his work at the Rh Laboratory he became a world renowned expert in the treatment and prevention of Rh Disease of the newborn and touched hundreds of lives directly and hundreds of thousands indirectly with his research. One of his proudest accomplishments was the development of WinRho which is used all over North America to prevent Rh Disease of the newborn. He also helped form the Rh Institute which furthered research of Rh disease and today continues to help fund research in a variety of departments of the University of Manitoba.

For his achievements in the research, treatment and prevention of Rh Disease he was given a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), made an Officer of the Order of Canada (1983), and a Provost in the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt (1996). As a Professor of Pediatrics he greatly enjoyed teaching the residents, interns and medical students both on the wards and in the lecture theatres at home, across Canada and around the world. He gave his last lecture in Saskatoon just three days before his death.

He died at Winnipeg on 22 May 2005.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 25 May 2005.

We thank Susan Bracken for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 October 2023

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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