Fonds 20-008 - Kathleen Bowley fonds

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Kathleen Bowley fonds

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  • ca. 1900-2010 (Creation)
    Bowley, Kathleen

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1.5 m of textual records
ca. 140 photographs

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Biographical history

Kathleen (Kay) Richmond Barclay Bowley was born in 1922 in Ottawa, Ontario, and was one of four children born to parents Robert George Douglas Barclay (1895-1969) and Sarah Richmond Stovel (1900-1977). Raised in western Canada, she later lived in Toronto where she married Robert Eric Bowley in 1954; together they had two children and moved to Peterborough in 1963.

Kathleen Bowley was as a member of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS or “WRENS”) and served in England and Belgium during World War II, from 1942 to 1945. She earned a B.A. in English and History at Queen’s University, graduating in 1949. Throughout her life, Bowley was an advocate for the higher education of women.

Bowley was an active volunteer in the Peterborough community serving in many capacities with several organizations and clubs: Kawartha Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, Peterborough Historical Society, Lang Pioneer Village, St. John Anglican Church, Peterborough Symphony Orchestra choir, and the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Peterborough Club. Bowley was also an avid genealogist. She died in Peterborough in 2010.

Custodial history

This fonds was created by and in the custody of Kathleen Bowley until her death in 2010 and in the custody of her son, Gordon Bowley, before it was donated by him to Trent University Archives in 2019.

Scope and content

Fonds is comprised of photographs, letters, speeches, articles, newspaper clippings and historical research notes related to the life of Kathleen Richmond Barclay Bowley. Much of the fonds relates to Bowley’s interest and experience in the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service and her participation in the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Peterborough Club. Also included are dozens of Barclay family ancestral letters.

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Fonds acquired from Gordon Bowley in 2019.


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Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Peterborough Club fonds

Robert Bowley fonds

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General note


Kathleen Bowley documents (1943-2010)



  1. Photographs: Kathleen Bowley and family members, ca. 2003-2006
  2. CDs (4); VHS (1): related to the Navy Wren uniform
  3. Booklet: “A Wren Uniform from World War II, 1939-1945”; related correspondence and photographs (5), ca. 2005
  4. Navy-related correspondence, research material, newspaper clippings, etc., ca. 2001-2008; also typed “Christmas Stories”, 1943, 1944
  5. as above
  6. as above; also large loose envelope titled “Pictures for Greatcoats and Glamour Boots: Canadian Women at War (1939-1945), 2005 – Second Edition, loaned to Carolyn Gossage”
  7. “Compositions”: includes articles and talks by Kathleen Bowley, and related research material; titles include: “Glen Dhu”; “Lisgar Collegiate Assembly”, 1995; “St. Margaret’s Guild – St. John’s Anglican Church Peterborough”, 1997; “Interview with Ban Righ Centre”, 2000; “Tom Boddy of the Choir of St. John the Evangelist Peterborough”, 1978; “One of 6000 – Kathleen Bowley’s Wartime Story”, 2009; “The People’s Chimes”, 1991 [re John Butcher]; “Sarah Richmond: A Love Story”, 1999; plus various other articles
  8. as above
  9. Newspapers articles about Kathleen Bowley related to her service in World War II; curriculum vitae notes; miscellaneous documents of a biographical nature
  10. Personal notes and documents, ca. 1981-2008
  11. Glen Dhu Public School, Whitby, Ontario – opening event 1990; talk re Glen Dhu by Kathleen Bowley
  12. United Empire Loyalists’ Association application and documentation certifying that Kathleen Bowley descended from United Empire Loyalist Bernard Frey, 1988
  13. Queen’s University “The Clara Farrell Brooke Bursary”, 2002-2007
  14. Records of gifts to Peterborough Museum, Lang Pioneer Village, Archives and to Art Gallery of Peterborough, etc., 1985-2010
  15. Robert Bowley’s “Chinese Art Book”: donation of manuscript to Library and Archives Canada, 2002-2005
  16. Ontario Genealogical Society project: Family Health Trees: speeches, publications, correspondence, notes, 1996-2009
  17. Canadian Federation of University Women [CFUW] Peterborough Club: “Annus Aureus mcmlxxxvii: A History of the university Women’s Club of Peterborough, Ontario 1937-1987”; “Summary of Programs – March 1937 to May 2005, University Women’s Club of Peterborough”; “The Era of the Charter Members: Canadian Federation of University Women Peterborough Club 1937-2007”
  18. CFUW Peterborough Club: guest speaker fabric artist Stephanie Ford Forrester, 2009
  19. “CFUW Peterborough Club: The Corporate Memory” by Kathleen Bowley, 2010; “CFUW Peterborough Awards Fund: Awards Criteria as of February 2010”; “CFUW Ontario Council Annual General Meeting 2007: CFUW Peterborough Club Local Arrangements Committee Final Report 2007”
  20. “Barclay Bowley personal CFUW papers 1972-2010”
  21. Miscellaneous items: various including Royal Albert Hall program re Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, 1945; also, unattributed manuscript titled “Our Canadian Cultural Life”, ca. 1965

Loose in box: 2 rolled certificates from Queen’s University, 1948 & 1949


Publications related to women’s role in the military. It is apparent that Kathleen Bowley was involved in some of these publications: Smashing the Atlantic Wall: The Destruction of Hitler’s Coastal Fortresses / Patrick Delaforce, 2001

Greatcoats and Glamour Boots: Canadian Women at War (1939-1945) / Carolyn Gossage, 1991

Greatcoats and Glamour Boots: Canadian Women at War (1939-1945), Revised Edition / Carolyn Gossage, Foreword by Roberts Bondar, 2001

Props on Her Sleeve: The Wartime Letters of a Canadian Airwoman / Mary Hawkins Buch… with Carolyn Gossage, 1997

Double Duty: Sketches and Diaries of Molly Lamb Bobak, Canadian War Artist / edited by Carolyn Gossage, 1992

Also, CD of music titled “Gracie Fields: Favourites” (Fields was an entertainer who performed for troops during World War II)


Barclay family letters (ca. 1900-1976)
The historical letters in Series B represent an Oshawa/Whitby area family over a period of 76 years. Topics of discussion include courting and marriage relationships; the nursing career of Marjorie Barclay (paternal aunt to Kathleen Bowley); and the service of three of Marjorie’s brothers in World War I.

Marjorie Gerogina Dow Barclay was the daughter of Lyman Theophilius (L.T.) Barclay (1855-1925) and Katherine Isabella Dow Barclay (1858-1953). Her siblings were: John Ball Dow Barclay, Donald Barclay, Helena “Squeak” Barclay, Robert George Barclay, Isabel “Issie” Barclay, and Frederick “Fred” “Freddie” “Barc(k)” Barclay.

The letters are comprised primarily of personal correspondence between Marjorie Barclay and numerous individuals. The majority is addressed to Marjorie from her immediate family, "beaus" and friends/acquaintances; other correspondence is from Marjorie’s extended family and friends to other members of her family or to acquaintances. Addresses from which the letters were sent include Peterborough, Oshawa, Whitby and Toronto, as well as Edmonton, California, England, France, etc.

Note: the letters were received folded in their envelopes and loose within boxes in no apparent order. They were opened and filed as follows:
Chronologically by date
If there was no year on the letter:
Placed in one of the no date folders based on addressee/addressor
Some of the letters had a date/year written at a later time
If it was possible to combine the original date from the creator with the year, it was placed chronologically in the folder
If it was limited to a month/year it was placed at the end of the month/year range (i.e. March 1929 is placed after March 31, 1929)
If there was only a year, it was placed at the end of the year range (i.e. 1921 is at the back of the 1921 folder after December)
If there was an incomplete year, it was placed at the end of the decade folder (i.e. 193? was placed at the back of the 1939 folder)

Note: approximately 32 photographs were received together with the letters; they are located as follows:
With letter dated April 18, 1918
With letter dated October 8, 1918
With letter dated November 1, 1921
With letter dated November 2, 1922
With letter dated November 21, 1922
With letter dated September 25, 1923
With letter dated April 13, 1924 (2 photographs attached)
With letter dated March 26, 1925
With letter dated December 17, [1929]
With undated letter located in Box 3 Folder 13 (letter from Bertice to Marjorie)

In Box 6 Folder 1 (21 miscellaneous photographs)
One photograph is in an envelope with newspaper clippings; “Cas” is written on the envelope
These photographs were not associated with any letters. Any photographs originally held together with a rubber band/found together were kept together with a clip.

Note: miscellaneous information about the letters:
Fabric square with letter May 23, 1929
If a newspaper clipping was found in a letter, it was kept with the letter
Some letters include postscripts written by others
A folder of information added to the top of Box 3 about possible relationships between the correspondents; this information was gleaned from the letters by Archives staff



  1. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Marjorie to Marjorie. One letter addressed to Aunt Kate and Marjorie)
  2. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Henry H.H. Johnstone “Boy”)
  3. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Charles)
  4. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Art)
  5. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Douglas)
  6. Correspondence- No date(includes correspondence regarding Dad, Mate, and Mother)
  7. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Helena “Squeak” Barclay, and Isabel “Issie” Barclay)
  8. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding George, “Red,” and Barc/Bark)
  9. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Mary Lou)
  10. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Margaret, Agnes, Mary A. Dow, Auntie Mac, Dorothy Jane, Nellie Adams, and Margaret “Marg”)
  11. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Helena, Kay, Nico and Brenda, Nico, Frances Mary, and Kim)
  12. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence addressed to Marjorie from Charles, Mr. Lloyd Hanlley)
  13. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence addressed to Helena, Ms. B— , Ms. Barclay, and Marjorie from various correspondents including Arnie J. Wellbourne, Olive Moore, Nancy, Maud Burrell, Mary, Isabel Nainby, Leona J Basselman, Ethyle, Elanor Driscoth, Iowa Jordan, Edith, Sue, Marion, Glad, Eurayle & Don, Dev, Myrtle, B, Carrie, Gertie, Ettie Miln, Bud, Bertice, Arnie, Art & Elizabeth B., no signature (x 3), Ruth L. Barnes, Rubus, Peg, Gerry, Harry, H.H Bingham, Katharine, Kelly, Luella D., Marion, Nan & Marion, Mary, Mary S. Bisset, Marlie, Arta, and Margaret.)
  14. Correspondence- No date (includes correspondence regarding Louise Russell, Bark, Barcus, Jack, Tame, Rusha)
  15. Correspondence- incomplete/ fragments
  16. Keepsakes (includes Train Line time schedule for Southern Pacific Lines, a Southern Pacific Lines Map, Programmes, Balls, Postcards, and Exhibits)
  17. Genealogy, Newspaper Clippings
  18. Essays, forms, poems, songs, bills, prayers
  19. Correspondence- 1900; 1904-1906; 1909-1910
  20. Correspondence- 1911-1913
  21. Correspondence- 1914
  22. Correspondence-1915
  23. Correspondence-1916
  24. Correspondence- 1917



  1. Correspondence- January to June 1918
  2. Correspondence- July to December 1918
  3. Correspondence- January to June 1919
  4. Correspondence- July to December 1919
  5. Correspondence- January to June 1920
  6. Correspondence- July to December 1920
  7. Correspondence- 1921
  8. Correspondence- 1922
  9. Correspondence- January to June 1923
  10. Correspondence- July to December 1923
  11. Correspondence- January to June 1924
  12. Correspondence- July to December 1924
  13. Correspondence- 1925



  1. Correspondence- 1926
  2. Correspondence- 1927
  3. Correspondence- 1928
  4. Correspondence- 1929
  5. Correspondence- 1930
  6. Correspondence- 1931
  7. Correspondence- 1932
  8. Correspondence- 1933
  9. Correspondence- 1934
  10. Correspondence- 1935
  11. Correspondence- 1936
  12. Correspondence- 1937
  13. Correspondence- 1938
  14. Correspondence- 1939
  15. Correspondence- 1940- 1944
  16. Correspondence- 1945-1949
  17. Correspondence- 1950-1954; 1957;1959
  18. Correspondence- 1960-1964
  19. Correspondence- 1965
  20. Correspondence- 1966-1967
  21. Correspondence- 1968-1969
  22. Correspondence- 1970-1971; 1973-1976



  1. Miscellaneous photographs (21)

Loose in box:

a. bank book
b. three notebooks
c. Edmonton St. Ry. Dept. ticket
d. Sunday school Bible
e. The Gospel according to St. Mark
f. hymn book
g. mailing envelopes
h. index cards, 1965-1968, re people's birthdays, anniversaries, and gift lists organized by month
i. 1962 memory calendar

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