Passions and Pastimes Thomas Walter Edwin Sowter The Ottawa Valley's First Archaeologist


Jean-Luc Pilon
Curator of Ontario Archaeology
Canadian Museum of Civilization

Thomas Walter Edwin Sowter (1860 - 1932)The place that any of us will occupy in history books, if any at all, is determined as much by the intellectual fashions of the time period that is reflecting upon the past, as by the actions and deeds that marked our lifetimes.  The case of T.W. Edwin Sowter is an example of the role that serendipidy has played in the story about the study of the Ottawa Valley's ancient history.  Sowter's place in Ottawa Valley archaeological investigation has ebbed and flowed, lain quiet for some time and is perhaps poised to regain a position once proudly, yet modestly occupied. 

The local Ottawa Valley archaeological community has long known of the writings of T.W. Edwin Sowter who had published a total of 6 archaeological articles between 1895 and 1917 (see Jamieson 1999).  However, many of the details about this man had drifted away from the attention of those interested in the results of his investigations into the Ottawa Valley's more distant past. 

Sowter memorabiliaUpon his death on Saturday May 14, 1932, T.W. Edwin Sowter was much eulogized by his many friends and admirers.  Three separate obituaries were published in the Ottawa Citizen over the course of the four days which followed his passing (click here to read them).  A central point brought out in these distillations of his 72 years highlighted his keen sense of curiosity about the world that surrounded him and his love of the past, as he was both an amateur archaeologist and an amateur palaeontologist. 

This web site is a modest attempt to allow those in the heritage community, who already admired  Sowter's archaeological work, and others, to acquire an appreciation for some of his other interests and pursuits, for who he was as a person , and thus provide some human dimensions to his research endeavours.  Thomas Walter Edwin Sowter is richly deserving of an important place in the history of our appreciation of the Ottawa Valley and its heritage. 

T.W.E. Sowter
Main Page Family & Community
Civil Servant Amateur Palaeontologist
Ottawa Field Naturalists Club Further Readings
Publications of T.W.E. Sowter