Born in 1865, Herbert Joseph was the second of four children to Israel D. Bowman (for his story and involvement with the Poorhouse, please visit his page) (1830-1896) and Angeline Louisa Tyson (1839-1912). He grew up in downtown Kitchener and went on to study civil engineering at the University of Toronto. He married Edith H.M. Walker (1868-1948) in Wentworth, Ontario on November 14, 1889 and they had four children together. For a more in-depth look into Herbert’s history, please visit his Waterloo Region Generations page and his page on the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History through the Kitchener Public Library Archives. In the latter, you can learn about his military background. Herbert was also the nephew of William Henry Bowman, who was the druggist for the House of Refuge from 1869-1891.
Herbert’s first time working with the House of Industry was when he was working as a civil engineer and did contract work for the House. In 1887, he drafted a plan for a subdivision on the land that was sold by the Poorhouse. He also did an inspection on the plumbing in the House in 1894. Below are the Meeting Minutes of the Standing Committee.
House of Indy & Refuge
Berlin 1st June 1887.[…]Ordered that the Committee report to the County Council recommending that some 22 ½ acres of the South Westerly portion of the Industrial Farm be disposed of by Tender – A rough draft of plan for the subdivision of such part to be sold into Town Lots was submitted by Mr Herbert J Bowman P. L. S.
Ordered that Inmate Lizzie Lake be granted her discharge from the House, so soon as she can obtain suitable employment –
The Committee then adjourned sine die.
Influenced by his father, Herbert became interested in regional politics after working in civil engineering for some time. After his father passed away in September 1896, he was appointed as the County Clerk and Treasurer to replace him. For the four months he served that year, he received $305.55.
The next year, he received $1000.00 for his annual salary as County Clerk and Treasurer, highest only to the School Inspector and Clerk of the Peace ( who received $1210.00 and $1000.00 respectively). Starting in 1899, Herbert sat on the Board of Audit, was appointed a juror and was appointed to be on the Roads and Bridges committee. That year, he went around to bridges throughout Waterloo Region to inspect and measure the bridge in order to make recommendations about its up-keep.
Also that year, Herbert began to work as the Secretary of the Standing Committee on the House of Industry, receiving $25.00 annually for the position.
Thanks to his degree in civil engineering, Herbert became the expert on design and construction for the House and he was called upon periodically to do various tasks. After working on the sewer in 1894, Herbert was asked again to design a plan to connect the sewer through the farm fields in 1900. He proposed a design that would cost $250.00 for the sewer connection through the fields and $500.00 for the connection along Frederick St. Below are the Meeting Minutes for the Standing Committee.
House of Refuge
Berlin, May 8th 1900
The House of Refuge Committee met to-day.
All members present except Mr. L. J. Breithaupt
Warden Hallman, Dr. Lackner, and County Clerk Bowman were also present.
Profiles of levels for proposed sewer connection were submitted by H. J. Bowman, C. E., and estimates of cost for direct connection through fields $250 & along Frederick St. $500.
Moved by Mr. Erb and seconded by Mr. Gilholm that tenders be called for a double siloh.
Herbert was paid $25.00 for his work. That same year, he was also paid another $25.00 for his clerical work alongside the Keeper, George Martin. This clerical work included writing letters to different counties about inmates or to other houses of refuge around South-Western Ontario. He also wrote a letter in 1903 inquiring about the new amendment to the Ontario Anatomy Act which allowed medical students to legally obtain unclaimed bodies from various government institutions, such as the House of Refuge.
October 3rd. 1903
Alex. Millar, Esq.,
350 Yonge St.
Mr. Martin, Manager of the House of Refuge here, has requested me to write to you as Inspector of Anatomy for this locality as to the meaning of Sec. 12 of “The Ontario Anatomy Act”
It has been the custom here for the Roman Catholic clergy to have all patients of their faith dying at the House of Refuge, buried by them in their own cemetery. Mr. Martin was not certain whether the clergymen would be classed as “friends entitled to claim the body” and wishes to have instructions from you in this matter.
Yours very truly,
Herbert J. Bowman D.B.
County Clerk & Treasurer
In 1906, Herbert was appointed as the Inspector of the House of Refuge by the Municipal Council of the County of Waterloo. Below is the By-law passed to appoint Herbert as the new inspector, outlining his responsibilities for his new role.
As inspector, Herbert continued his clerical duties, in one instance writing to the County of Hawkesbury about the inner workings of the management of the House.
- G. Higginson Esq.
Our staff at the House of Refuge consist of a manager at $600 & matron $300 both living in the House and having everything provided for them except their clothing. The physician who visits once a week, and oftener if required gets, $200 and the County furnishes medicines. The Chairman of the Committee is nominally inspector, but I do the work and I suppose about $150 of my salary should be counted as this work.
Of course our institution has been in operation for forty years, has 100 inmates on the average and 125 acres of farm land so that our staff is better paid than most others and besides we keep a married hired man for whom we have lately put up a small house and the matron has the assistance of four servant girls at $3 per week.
The positions of manager & matron are very responsible and we think we have the model pair of the Province and as the County Council want to keep them they pay them well. They started about six years ago at $400 & $200 respectively
Yours very truly
Herbert J. Bowman
Herbert earned $200.00 as Inspector and $1250.00 as the County Clerk and Treasurer on top of the engineering work he was still doing for the region.
In 1915 Herbert was diagnosed with chronic Bright’s Disease, which is an inflammation of the kidneys, and died of urania a year later on June 19, 1916. He held his positions as County Clerk and Treasurer and Inspector of the House until his death. He was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.
What were the duties of the County Clerk?
According to By-law No. 8 in the the Journal of Proceedings and By-Laws of the Municipal Council of the County of Waterloo, the clerk needed to attend all meetings of the council and take notes and make records of all the proceedings within the municipality, which included voting on decisions within the committees, applying and adopting Ontario Legislature where necessary, making records of all incoming and outgoing expenditures, and giving recommendations to the board. Below is the By-Law created by the municipality in 1853 outlining the clerk’s responsibilities.
The photo of Herbert at the top of the page is from his Waterloo Regions Generation page. The excerpts of letters written by Herbert while he worked at the House of Industry and Refuge are from the Region of Waterloo Archives.