Fonds 20-013 - John Merton Bowes fonds

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John Merton Bowes fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the creator of the fonds.

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  • 1950-2020 (Creation)
    Bowes, John Merton

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Physical description

64 cm of textual material
ca. 40 photographs

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Biographical history

John Merton Bowes was born in California in 1927. He first became a licensed real estate agent in 1950 at the age of 23. He began working in Toronto where he was the manager of Ridout Real Estate. He later moved to Peterborough, Ontario and founded his own firm, now known as Re/Max Eastern, in 1980. He went on to collaborate with Bill Cocks and together they established Bowes and Cocks Ltd., of which he was the president for 15 years. Bowes dedicated his career to ensuring that the development of Peterborough’s real estate was a reflection of the City’s needs as it doubled in population from 40,000 to 80,000 citizens in a few decades. One of his most notable moments includes his initial proposal of a toll road linking the QEW, southwest of Toronto, with Highway 115/7 in the 1990s. John Merton Bowes was the author of two books: Dreams For Sale – Make Me an Offer and Greater Peterborough – Building A Metropolis in Kawartha Cottage Country. He died in Peterborough in 2021.

Custodial history

Fonds was in the custody of John Merton Bowes before being donated to Trent University Archives in 2020.

Scope and content

This fonds contains records of John Merton Bowes’ 70-year career as a real estate agent in Toronto and Peterborough. The records include photographs, reports, advertisements, and other paper records of his professional career beginning in the 1950’s up to his retirement in 2020.

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Fonds acquired from John Merton Bowes via Anna-Louise Richardson in 2020.


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  1. Reports of the Greater Peterborough Economic Council titled Municipal Co-operation in the Greater Peterborough Area 25 June 1992; Peterborough County/City Municipal Review Executive Summary and Recommendations 1 May 1997 by W. Douglas Armstrong and Harry Kitchen; County of Peterborough Advisory Committee on County Government Final Report October 1991, 1991–1997
  2. Regional planning communication, 2018
  3. Range of newspaper articles involving the Greater Peterborough Economic Council, 1989–2000
  4. Regional Planning in Peterborough, newspaper article titled "Big county, city changes: Consultants recommend cutting number of municipalities to nine from 19," 1 May 1997
  5. Report of the Greater Peterborough Economic Council titled Peterborough County Into the 21st Century: In the Context of 1997 Realities, January 1997
  6. City of Peterborough – Annexations Historical 1994, 1997, 2002
  7. City of Peterborough – Newspaper articles on planning and development, 1950–1989
  8. Booklet on the Report of the Greater Peterborough Economic Council titled Peterborough into the 21st Century, February 1989
  9. Letters of correspondence and newspaper articles on the development of the Parkway in Peterborough, 1990, 2001, 2002
  10. Report on the Proposed Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, November 2005
  11. Report on the Ontario Motorway Network: A Transportation Plan for the 21st Century, 24 May 1990
  12. 407 East Environmental Assessment Materials and pamphlets, 2005
  13. Newspaper articles containing information about potential Highway 407 extension, 1998-2016
  14. Correspondence regarding the development of Highway 407, 1998-2004
  15. Ministry of Transportation Highway 407 Overview Study (Highway 48 to Highway 35/115), 20 September 1989
  16. Correspondence regarding City elections, Peterborough, 2018



  1. Newspaper clippings, correspondence, home sales statistics by the Peterborough Real Estate Board. Includes photograph of the Peterborough Real Estate Board members in 1984, 1958–1984
  2. Newspaper clippings and correspondence about Peterborough subdivisions, development of the Parkway, 1953–1977
  3. Property Development of Sandy Point, Pigeon Lake housing in the 1970’s; brown envelope containing documents and photographs of Sandy Point and Architectural Drawings of Proposal Design 1970’s; newspaper clippings, booklet and design advertising materials for Port Aberdeen in 1973
  4. Newspaper clippings of early history with Re/Max Eastern Realty. Printed copies of photographs of John and Kelly Bowes celebrating the opening of the Eastern Realty office, 1980’s and onward
  5. Newspaper clippings, maps, records of correspondence pertaining to Harold Town’s Old Orchard property and the development of Highway 28. Includes copies of property listing and agreement of sale with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Envelope addressed to John Bowes containing a letter of reprimand for sale of the property, as well as newspaper clippings on the subject. Handwritten note on inside of folder from John Bowes dated 16 January 2020, 1976-2020
  6. Large photograph that has detached from backing of Toronto Mayor, Nathan Phillips, cutting a ribbon for the opening of the Bowes and Cocks Scarborough office. Backing of photograph includes the stamp of the Peterborough RE/MAX location and the following written note “Mayor Nathan Phillips Opens Bowes and Cocks Scarborough Office – 1967”, 1967
  7. Bridgenorth Servicing Proposal: Preliminary Feasibility Report by Re/Max Eastern Realty Inc., 27 September 2018
  8. Earliest records for Bowes and Cocks 1950’s including photograph of the first office location at 333 Charlotte St. Peterborough; early advertisements for Bowes and Cocks including pamphlets, brochures, press releases, newspaper clippings, 1956
  9. Newspaper clippings, brochures and photographs of Bowes and Cocks in the 1960’s. One photograph of John Bowes, William Cocks, and Former Premiere of Ontario Leslie Frost, date 9 May 1963. Photograph is signed on the front with message stating “To John M. Bowes, With Best Wishes, Leslie Frost,” 1963
  10. Newspaper articles, photographs of Haliburton Lake Cottager’s Association that began in 1953 with Ridout Real Estate Limited. This folder also includes correspondence on budget and sales, growing sales team, reports of Haliburton Project. Also includes photographs and newspaper articles of the 50th anniversary of the Haliburton Lake Cottager’s Association celebration in 2003, 1953-2003
  11. Folder includes correspondence related to the development and “re-opening” of Cardiff, the abandoned uranium mine town. The records include invitations to Leslie Frost to attend and be an honorary member of Cardiff, timetable of the opening day events, publicity objectives and the hiring of Public Relations Director for Bowes and Cocks Ltd., 1960-1967
  12. Documents related to the development of Ethicon Sutures Ltd. in Peterborough, Ontario, 4 December 1963. Ethicon Sutures is the world’s largest manufacturer of surgical sutures and allied products in which Bowes and Cocks Ltd. took on the task of bringing to Peterborough and finding a suitable location for the factory, 1963-2000
  13. Development of Ennismore and Chemong Lake area. Includes cottage development land sales of Emerald Isle. Includes a notebook of travel expenses to areas in Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes regions, 1966-1971
  14. Information related to the sale of the Davis Island Manor. Includes letters of correspondence, contracts, and advertisements, 1955
  15. Information about the Proposal for Development at Boyd Island, 2001
  16. Newspaper clippings of local history, most from the Peterborough Examiner, 1962-1988
  17. Records related to Peterborough Real Estate including newspaper clippings, list of Peterborough Real Estate Board members, population records, 1957–2011
  18. Records pertaining to the Civic Development Committee, which was a sub-committee of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. Records include Report on the Chamber of Commerce Building, 7 June 1962, Market Square Project 1960, Canadian Realty News report on Community Action Can Spark Downtown Redevelopment in Smaller Cities January 1966, various newspaper clippings, 1960-2001
  19. Newspaper articles and clippings regarding the early years of development with Bowes and Cocks, 1956–1977
  20. Records discussing the development of J.M. Bowes and Company after the departure of partnership with William Cocks in 1971, 1977-1980
  21. Records discussing the early development of the Peterborough Real Estate Board including newspaper articles and letters of correspondence, 1957-1989
  22. Information related to the Haliburton Developments by Ridout Real Estate Limited, includes brochures, postcards, report titled The 1954 Haliburton Lake Planned Cottage Development, news releases, catalogue of homes available, 1953-1956, 2003
  23. Ridout Real Estate – Peterborough record of sales and income, 1955–1964
  24. Records about the history of the Ridout Real Estate Company. Includes photographs of Westmount Garden development, various editions of the Ridout Real Estate Limited newspaper called The Sign Post, sales reports, newspaper clippings, photocopies of staff lists, 1955-1956

Loose in Box:

Book by John M. Bowes titled Dreams for Sale: Make Me an Offer, 2002

Book by John M. Bowes titled Greater Peterborough: Building a Metropolis in Kawartha Cottage Country, 2015

“Peterborough into the 21st Century,” Report of the Municipal Committee Greater Peterborough Economic Council, February 1989; loose correspondence with former Peterborough Mayor, Sylvia Sutherland, 21 October 2001

Newspaper article from the Peterborough Examiner dedicated to the retirement of John Merton Bowes after 70 years in the real estate industry at the age of 93, Friday 12 June 2020

Large photograph of Sir Edward Kemp who was responsible for building the lodge at Sandy Point. Photograph has pulled away from mat board.

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