Veteran Stories:
Donald Fowler

Army

  • Framed photograph of Samuel Fowler (1848-1911), a Fenian Raid veteran, and Donald Fowler's great grandfather.

  • A series of metal frames hold the ancestral portraits of the Fowler family. Donald Maxwell Fowler enlisted in the 1st Battalion, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders in June of 1940, and served overseas until 1945.

  • Karl Edmund Fowler, the late brother of Donald Fowler, entered World War Two as a boy soldier at age 12 as a member of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corp and continued to serve during the Korean War, in which he was awarded the Military Medal, 1955.

  • Herbert J. Fowler (1904-1962), Donald Fowler's father, served in the Second World War from 1939-1943 and died of wartime injuries. Donald's mother Grace was awarded Herbert's Silver Cross, 1922.

  • Alfred H. Fowler (1873-1948), Donald Fowler's grandfather, served in the South African (Boer) War and the First World War as a career Canadian army soldier.

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"While I hesitate to say it, I suspect there's a warrior gene within the bloodlines of our Canadian family...."

Transcript

Hello, I'm Don Fowler of Brockville. While I hesitate to say it, I suspect there's a warrior gene within the bloodlines of our Canadian family: a family which had emigrated to Canada West - now Ontario - about 1850, from Malton Yorkshire, a town seventeen miles northeast of the present city of York in Yorkshire, England.

My first Canadian Fowler ancestor, great- great-grandfather John Fowler, was a Yorkshire contractor of public works who built railway lines prior to immigrating to Canada, where he became active in the construction of the first railway in Canada West - the Cobourg and Peterborough railway - and had been settled with his wife, Jane Prudham Fowler, at [?], North Yorkshire, along with their six children. Later, another six children would be born in Canada, and the parents, now along with their six sons and six daughters, settled on a four hundred acre farm east of Cobourg, from where they supplied that town with dairy products. The couple's last Yorkshire child was born at Goosehill, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, and that was my great-grandfather Samuel Fowler, who in later life was a Canadian Veteran opposing the Fenian incursion from the United States, and he was awarded the Canadian Medal for that endeavour.

Later, Samuel Fowler became county attorney of Henderson County, Minnesota, USA, until returning to Brockville and Kingston as a political journalist and editor. Fowler and his wife Margaret Charlotte Corrigal Scally, which is an Orcadian and Hudson's Bay Company source name, had their first child born in Carver village, Minnesota, and that was my grandfather, Alfred H. Fowler. Herb, known as "the Boss," was a career soldier in Canada from the age of eighteen, and saw action in South Africa's Boer War, and again in the First World War.

Two of his sons were career soldiers in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, excluding my father, Herbert James Fowler who, following active service during the Second World War, died of injuries, which he had received during the war. Father had to be repatriated to Canada, Ontario, from Scotland on the hospital ship Lady Nelson in 1943. Previously, father had served in the peacetime militia with the Princess of Wales Rangers in Peterborough, Ontario, and then at Kingston with the Princess of Wales' Own Regiment. He had followed in his father's World War I footsteps by enlisting in the Second World War with the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. Father had almost lost his life in Scotland when he was struck by an army sixty hundred weight lorry, shortly before the First Canadian Division's secret embarkation from Scotland for the forthcoming invasion of Sicily. Father had served Canada and the United Kingdom from December of 1939, until being repatriated to Canada.

Meanwhile, I enlisted in the First Battalion Stormont Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders in June of 1940, and arrived in the UK in July of 1941. When learning of my father's critical condition in Scotland from a telegram received from my mother in Canada, I was able to obtain compassionate leave to visit father, who was in the Haslemere Hospital in Scotland. I then was able to assure my mother that father was off the danger list, and that he would soon be ready for the long voyage back to Canada.

My wartime service, with some security exceptions, now another record within the Canadian Veterans' archives. However, my late brother Karl Edmund Fowler of Kingston not only was a very youthful Ordnance Corps boy soldier articifer, he enlisted in the 1950s Korean War with the Royal Canadian Regiment, and was awarded the military medal for his involvement in a pre-planned action in order to secure a Chinese prisoner of war directly from within the enemy lines. It was a bold, albeit successful, action, which earned his commander Lt. H. Russ Gardner a military cross for that action. Prior to that daring event, Russ Gardner and I had been members of the Queen's University pipe band during the late 1940s, and it was there that Gardner had received a degree in psychology.

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