Fonds PR0339 - Bowker family fonds

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Bowker family fonds

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    Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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    • 1927-1998 (Creation)

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    Physical description

    2.00 m of textual records and other material.

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    Name of creator


    Biographical history

    Wilbur Bowker was born in 1910 in Ponoka where his parents settled after coming from Quebec in 1906. Wilbur Bowker studied law at the University of Alberta, University of Minnesota and Yale Law School. From 1934 to 1946 he was an associate in the Milner Steer Law firm in Edmonton. He served in the Canadian army from 1942 to 1945 and was promoted to Captain in 1944. He left the army in 1945 at the request of the University of Alberta to teach in the Faculty of Law. He was appointed to the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 1946 and became Dean of Law in 1948. He developed programs and expanded this Faculty. In 1968 he retired as Dean to assume the position of Director of the Alberta Institute of Law Research and Reform which was affiliated with the University of Alberta. He continued to teach throughout all these years at the University of Alberta. In 1975 he retired and was made Professor Emeritus and Director Emeritus of this Institute. He served on numerous committees and remained on the Board of the Institute until 1984. With the financial support of the Alberta Law Foundation, he undertook the massive endeavour of chronicling Alberta's legal history. His articles and speeches were published in 1989 in a volume of almost 800 pages. In 1981 the Attorney General's building in Edmonton was renamed after him. In 1990 he was awarded the Order of Canada. He passed away in 1999.

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    Biographical history

    Marjorie Bowker was born in 1916 in Prince Edward Island and at an early age moved with her family to Wetaskiwin. She graduated in 1939 from the University of Alberta with degrees in Arts and Law and was admitted to the bar in 1940. She married Wilbur Bowker in 1940, a lawyer whose practice she carried on while he was absent on active service during World War II. In 1965 she was appointed to a government committee studying adoption and child welfare in Alberta, the recommendations from which resulted in sweeping changes in child welfare legislation. For 12 years (1965-1977) she served as the first woman appointed on the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta Hospital. She served later during three years as Alberta Chairman of the Canadian Paraplegic Association. In 1968 she received a honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the Ewha Women's University in Seoul. In 1966 she was appointed a Judge of the Family and Juvenile Court of Alberta and held this position for 17 years. In 1972 she was instrumental in establishing, in the Family Court of Edmonton, a Marriage Conciliation Service which was aimed at reducing divorce and which became a model for other courts in Canada, as well as in Australia. She retired from her judicial position in 1983 but continued to be involved in numerous volunteer activities in the areas of health and social services. Three of her books on the Canadian constitution and free trade were national best sellers. In 1990, at the same time as her husband but for different reasons, she was awarded the Order of Canada and in 1991 she received a Honorary Doctor degree from Athabasca University. She died August 23, 2006.

    Custodial history

    Scope and content

    The fonds consists of records created by Marjorie Bowker and Wilbur Bowker. These papers show their involvement in legal, social and political issues in Alberta and Canada. The fonds holds family papers, speeches and writings, material created by Marjorie Bowker’s position as a judge, media interviews and various photo albums. The fonds includes two series: Marjorie Bowker records and Wilbur Bowker records.

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    Immediate source of acquisition

    Records have been donated by Marjorie Bowker.


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        Restrictions on access

        Access Conditions: None

        Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

        Use Conditions: Permission for use required. Subject to the Copyright Act.

        Finding aids

        File list is available.

        Associated materials

        The Provincial Archives of Alberta holds a collection from the Calgary Bar Association including a transcript of an interview with Wilbur Bowker (PR1987.0330, volume 4).

        The University of Alberta Archives in Edmonton and The Legal Archives Society of Alberta in Calgary also hold material about Wilbur Bowker.


        Further accruals are not expected.

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        Includes the following accessions:


        Physical description

        Also includes ca. 400 photographs, 11 audiocassettes and 7 video cassettes.

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