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Kathleen Bowley fonds

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Kathleen Bowley fonds. -- 1943-2008 -- 32 cm of textual records; ca. 110 photographs


Kathleen (Kay) Richmond Barclay Bowley was born in 1922 in Ottawa, Ontario, and was one of four children born to parents Robert George Barclay and Sarah Richmond Stovel. 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 whole 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.


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 (description to be added at a later date).


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.

Immediate Source: Fonds acquired from Gordon Bowley in 2019.

Restrictions: N

Associated: Robert Bowley papers, CFUW papers

NOTE: This finding aid will be amended at a later date with a description of a large series of Barclay family ancestral letters also received with this donation; these letters are still in process.


Box 1


  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

Box 2

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)