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Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical
Vol 3
Ernest W. Bowness B.Sc


Ernest W. Bowness is a prominent consulting engineer of Edmonton and his professional skill has been called into play in connection with the development of many important public utilities in various parts of Canada and the United States. lie was born on Prince Edward Island in 1879, and is of Scotch descent in both the paternal and maternal lines. He is a son of Andrew and Elizabeth Gertrude (Stewart) Bowness, also natives of that island. The father was born in 1850 and still resides in that locality, having reached the age of seventy-three years, but the mother passed away in 1914.
In the acquirement of an education Ernest W. Bowness attended the public schools of his native island and Prince of Wales College at Charlottetown, from which he was graduated in 189$. The ensuing year was spent as a teacher in the schools of Charlottetown and he then enlisted as a private in the Second Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, of which he was a member for a year. He won promotion to the rank of lieutenant and was attached to the Eighty-second Regiment of Canadian Militia, but resigned his commission to enter the South African war. He participated in many hard fought engagements during that campaign and was awarded a service medal with four bars. He served until the close of the war, receiving his honourable discharge at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1901, and was one of two men chosen to represent his regiment, the Eighty- second Infantry, at the coronation of King George in 1903.

After completing his military service Mr. Bowness entered McGill University at Montreal, in which he pursued a course in engineering, and was graduated from that institution in 1905, with the degree of Bachelor of Science. From 1905 until 1907 he was a member of the faculty of the Case School of Applied Science at Cleveland, Ohio, having charge of laboratory work and delivering special lectures on electric traction, hydraulic engineering, etc. Returning to Canada, he devoted the year 1907 to making surveys and reports on Bow River water power development west of Calgary, in the province of Alberta, and in the following year he was occupied with the work of making surveys and reports on Chaudier Basin and Seven Falls development projects in Quebec. In 1909 he was sales engineer at Vancouver, British Columbia, for the Canadian Westinghouse Company and later in the same year was manager of the Calgary office of that firm. In 1910 he was employed by the western office of the firm of Smith, Kerry & Chase, located at Vancouver, to make a number of reports and estimates on water power developments of from five thousand to sixty thousand horse power. He also designed and constructed several water power plants, in addition to other work, and in 1911 again went to the States, becoming manager of the light and power department of the Mount Hood Railway & Power Company of Portland, Oregon. He organized the department, secured all franchises and supervised the work of designing and constructing a fifty thousand kilowatt water power plant, a five thousand kilowatt auxiliary steam plant, transmission and distribution lines, substations, etc. When the Mount 1-looci Company was absorbed by the Portland Railway, Light & Power Company in 1912, Mr. Bowness was offered a similar position with that corporation and he was also consulting engineer for the Northwestern Electric Company of Portland and for other firms of that city. In 1913 he acted as efficiency engineer for the city of Edmonton and from 1914 until 1918 he was consulting engineer on several water power and steam development projects in western Canada. He was made manager of the Edmonton Power Company and prepared reports and estimates on water power on the Saskatchewan river for the firm of Sir John Jackson, Ltd., and a Montreal syndicate. In 1919 he made reports and estimates on East River Sheet Harbour water power development in Nova Scotia for W. D. Ross, including an investigation in reference to the electrification of the New Glasgow plant of the Nova Scotia Steel Company, and in 1920 he furnished reports and estimates on water power for the Fraser Timber Syndicate of Prince George, British Columbia, in addition to miscellaneous consulting. Mr. Bowness is now serving as president of the Empire Engineering Company of Edmonton, and his broad practical experience and a detailed knowledge of the scientific principles underlying his work enable him to find a ready and correct solution for all intricate and difficult professional problems.

While in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Bowness was married at Seattle, Washington, on June 24, 1913, to Miss Virginia Bell Gravitt, a daughter of Harry Gravitt of Los Angeles, California. Mr. Bowness is a Presbyterian in religious faith and in Masonry has taken the thirty-second degree. He is a member of the Edmonton Board of Trade, the Edmonton Club and the Edmonton Golf & Country Club, and he keeps in close touch with the advancement that is constantly being made in his chosen field of activity through his identification with the civil and electrical branches of the Professional Engineers of Alberta, while he is also an associate member of the Engineering Institute of Canada. His life has been one of intense activity and usefulness and the importance of the projects with which he has been connected establishes his professional standing. his labors have been a most important factor in the development and utilization of the natural resources of various parts of the country and the record of his achievements is the best commentary upon his ability and enterprise.


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