Alexander (Sandy) was born in
Seaforth, Ont. in 1868. In 1881, Alex, with his father, W.O. Fowler and
family, came west and farmed in the Chesley district of Oakland
Municipality. The Assessment Roll of 1886, lists Alexander Fowler "18
years, E 27-7-18, 300 acres under cultivation, single. Church of
England, one cow, three young cattle, seven pigs".
It was during this period that Sandy and his brother-in- law shared in
one of the many hazards of pioneering. They set off for Waskada, to buy
seed and were enveloped in a blinding blizzard. All contact with roads
was lost, but eventually, they discovered a small shack and nearby, a
snow-covered tumble-down shed. In these, men and horses holed-in for
the two day blizzard. The anxious family greeted them joyfully on their
Various stores and offices sprang up in the Municipality of Argyle,
with the coming of the railway in 1889, and in the fall of 1891, Alex
Fowler came to Baldur to operate the newly-built Manitoba Elevator of
which Company his father was president.
In 1895, Alex married Margaret, daughter of George William Playfair.
They were married in the new farm home at Otenaw, (the home of Irene
and Hugh Playfair,) by the Rev. J.H.L. Joslyn.
In 1899, he built the Fowler Block, to which the saddlery business was
moved. Mr. G.W. Brisbin was assistant until harness-making and repairs
were taken over by Ami Bjornson. Ami was in charge for 50 years, and
during that time the "back shop" became an informal meeting place for
customers and friends to discuss the affairs of the day. The second
home was now above the store. The post office was relocated in the
store in 1904, when Alex took it over from his father. In 1933, he
built a new post office on Second Street.
Alex was elected secretary-treasurer of the new school, built in 1905,
a service he enjoyed for 24 years. When the ratepayers met to elect the
first council in March, 1906, he was elected a member. He was also on
the board of the first skating rink. He was a shareholder and director
of the 1914 rink.
A keen sportsman, he played first base for the original Baldur baseball
team, and enjoyed golf. He was honoured by a life membership in
the Manitoba Curling Association and at that time he had attended 44
consecutive Winnipeg bonspiels. In 1909, he was a member of the first
Canadian curling team to curl in Scotland. Hunting was always a high
point of the year.
Avenue in the early 1900’s
Photo from the S. J. McKee Archives
The Fowlers, Frank Schultz and Percy Curtis
built a good part of
Baldur’s business district. W.O. Fowler’s residence at the left. Mr.
Schultz’s bank near centre. The Fowler Block and the Curtis Block
dominate the right side of this shot.
Alex’s father, William Oliver Fowler was born at Dandy Wiske, Yorkshire
in 1839, just before the family immigrated to Canada in 1840, and
settled in Ontario at Harpurhey, now Seaforth. In 1860.
Allured by the adventure and opportunity of the Canadian West, in 1874,
William made his first trip travelling by St. Paul and the Red River to
old Fort Garry. He brought his family West in 1881, and took up land in
the Chesley district of the Municipality of Oakland, near the junction
of the Assiniboine and Souris Rivers. Here, he farmed and was a
He came to Baldur in 1891, where
he built a flour and feed shop, and a
bakery. He was a major shareholder in the Manitoba Elevator Co.
In 1893, he built a two-storey brick building in the same area. His
house, made of "St. Boniface brick", was erected in 1898-1899 and
remains a Municipal Heritage site.
William was active in the community. A strong advocate of advanced
education, he served for 10 years as secretary-treasurer of the Simpson
School District. He promoted the building of the Presbyterian Church
and became superintendent of the Sunday School