Arriving in St. John’s in the middle of the Great Depression, Derrick Bowring discovered an island whose vistas and people would capture his heart. Sent to Newfoundland to join Bowring Brothers Ltd. and learn the retail end of the family business, his work with the company would take him into logging communities, outports and up to the ice fields. His memoir offers a mercantile history of St. John’s in the mid-twentieth century providing stories of life on Water Street during economic depression, a world war, Confederation and the business management shifts of the 1960s. His memoir is punctuated with colourful stories of the people he encountered such as Sealing Captain Al Blackwood, Premier Joey Smallwood and King George VI. He even reveals a little-known fact about Confederation and the Princes of Water Street.
Born in Liverpool, Derrick Bowring (1916-2009) arrived in St. John’s in 1935 to join Bowring Brothers Ltd. and learn the retail side of the family business. With Fred Ayre, he expanded Bowring’s retail business into iconic gift shops across Canada. When he retired in 1977, he was chairman of the board of directors.
Amy Bowring is the Director of Collections and Research at Canada’s national dance archives, Dance Collection Danse, and is an instructor at Ryerson University. In the field of Canadian dance history, she has curated exhibitions, published articles and lectured widely. She is the granddaughter of Derrick Bowring.
Forward by John Crosbie