Thomas Walter Edwin Sowter

A Family Man Active in his Community
Mrs. Sowter, Theresa Larue, daughter of André Larue
.W. Edwin Sowter was the son of Samuel Sowter, described in 1899 as an "old resident of Aylmer" when he was in his 80th year and seriously ill.  He was originally from London, England and we might wonder whether he did not impart to his son a curiosity for the natural and historical world from his own upbringing in a land where connections with long ago abound.  On September 4, 1882 T.W. Edwin Sowter married Theresa Larue (click here to read her obituary notice), daughter of Aylmer's first notary (André Larue and Sara McNally) in Aylmer's anglican Christ Church.  Together they would have four children: two sons, Edwin and Thomas, and two daughters, Maud (later Mrs. John Forsythe) and Dorothy (later Mrs. Joseph Sullivan). 

T.W. Edwin Sowter with two of his grand-daughters, Mrs. Maud McCaffrey (l) and Mrs. Dorothy Kelly (r)In an odd twist of cultural mores, prevalent at the time and possibly still invoked on occasion today, Theresa Larue lies in St. Paul's catholic cemetery within the town limits of Aylmer, while her husband of 40 years, T.W. Edwin Sowter, is buried several kilometers out of town in the protestant Bellevue cemetery, formerly known as Conroy's cemetery.  This burying place is located immediately east of where Sowter's father Samuel had a farm and where we might presume T.W. Edwin Sowter was raised (Aldred 1993:150), between the town of Aylmer and the city of Hull.  Sowter was a member in good standing of the Orange and Masonic Lodges and one so might see why he was not buried along side his catholic wife. 

As a member of the Christ Church anglican parish of the town of Aylmer, Québec, T.W.E. Sowter left a lasting piece of heritage within the walls of the old stone church on Charles Street in Aylmer where he had been married.  Quietly stairing down from the top of the walls are gold leaf lettering of holy texts that Sowter painted.  They evoke a solid spiritual connection with the church and the community. 

T.W.E. Sowter's obituary notices speak of his contributions to history texts, one in particular being destined for use by primary level students (Henry H. Miles' The Child's History of Canada).  While efforts to relocate these have not yielded sections clearly attributed to Sowter, it becomes clear that recognition was not what was motivating his participation in these projects, but rather the desire to promote awareness and appreciation of the former inhabitants of the Ottawa Valley.  Further evidence of Sowter's realisation of the need to reach out to a larger number of people with the results of his research is found in a series of Saturday Evening Citizen articles published in 1926 (click here to learn more).  What greater gift to his community than to share his lively and colourful recreations of the past through widely-read newspapers and school texts.

T.W.E. Sowter
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