Chesterville and District Historical Society
William Bow was born on May 18, 1825 in Aberdeen, Scotland to Thomas Bow and Mary Jack. He immigrated to Canada around 1840 and settled in Mountain Township, where he farmed for a number of years.
In 1846, he married Charlotte Fleming and the couple had four children: Thomas, Emily, George and Margaret.
He gave up farming in 1848 to become a schoolteacher, spending five years at Cass Bridge. He and his family then moved to West Winchester, where he taught for two more years before opening a grocery store, then a general mercantile business.
When a post office was established in the village in February of 1855, William was appointed postmaster—a position that he would hold for the next 57 years. It originally operated out of his general store on the north-west corner of Main and Ottawa Streets.
Winchester became an incorporated village in 1888, and later that year the post office was moved to William’s newly built store on the north-east corner of St. Lawrence and Caleb Streets (now Mary’s Restaurant).
William continued as postmaster until December 1912, when he was relieved of his duties at age 87. To date, he is the longest serving postmaster in the history of Dundas County.
William was involved in all aspects of the community. He served as Winchester’s police magistrate for over 30 years and became known as a strict but fair enforcer of the law, especially during the years of local option when the sale of alcohol was prohibited. He was also the superintendent of the Methodist Sunday school for several decades.
In addition to the post office, he owned several businesses during his career. He operated his general store until 1879, when he passed it on to his son George and son-in-law Alex Ross in favour of becoming a druggist.
By 1910, the druggist business had been taken over by his grandson George H. Challies (future MPP for Grenville-Dundas) and William had moved on to selling stationery and fancy goods.
William Bow passed away on April 2, 1915, just one month before his 90th birthday. He was laid to rest beside his wife at Maple Ridge Cemetery.
His dedication to the village and its people made him a much loved and respected man, and the loss of Winchester’s ‘grand old man’ was keenly felt throughout the community.