Interviews for these articles are generally by phone, but when the Bowerings were contacted they felt the personal visit would be necessary. So that was arranged and shortly into our discussions it became clear that their story was complicated, and at times, poignant. See if you agree.
Ian was born in Melbourne, Australia, and when he was young the family operated a seasonal milk bar and general store for six years at Rye, a seaside resort town south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula of Port Phillip Bay. They then moved to Frankston where Ian attended high school and worked as a pharmacy assistant. Next was one year at pharmacy college, where he failed.
In 1968 he worked as a clerk at Prince Henry’s Hospital in Melbourne for 5 ½ years. It was there he met his first wife, Chris, who had come from Germany. They married in 1973. Ian by then had risen to CEO of Alexandra District Hospital. Two children were born – Ann in 1976 and James three years later. Today, Ann, an accountant, lives in Sydney and James works at an Audi dealership in Melbourne.
In 1984 Ian moved to suburban Melbourne and worked at Maroondah Hospital for 15 years as Deputy CEO. Chris worked in schools as an Administrative Officer until 2004 and sadly died the next year. From 1986 to 1992 he took night school courses at Deakin University and earned a Certified Practising Accountant’s Degree. Ian “retired” in January 2000, but the following month went back to work as (of all things!) a welder of wrought iron fences. Later in 2000 he became Retail Business Manager for Clark Rubber Retail, a diversified company into foam rubber, latex, outdoor furniture and swimming pools. This required travelling all around Australia which he did for 3 ½ years until Chris became ill.
Catherine, a Winnipegger, grew up in East Kildonan where she attended Miles MacDonell to grade 12, and onto University of Winnipeg for a B.A. in Political Science, History and French. She was an exchange student to Saint-Félicien, Quebec, for two weeks and is quite fluent in French.
In 1971 she married her high school sweetheart, Doug. Three children followed – James in 1975, Craig in ’78, and Kimberley the next year. In 1983 Catherine returned to the U of W and earned a B.Ed. three years later. She taught at Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate and from 1989 at River East School Division doing substitute and part-time work. For the last eight years she had permanent work at Neil Campbell School. She was active in divisional teachers’ association local affairs.
In 1998 her husband Doug died suddenly. In 2004 she toured Great Britain and Ireland and met Ian Parker from Australia. It was love at first sight! He came to Winnipeg for three months and in September 2005 they were married. Two weeks later he was diagnosed with cancer and died that December.
In February 2006 she was at an Eastern Palliative Care meeting in Melbourne and met Ian Bowering. In August that year she came back to Winnipeg and in November Ian came here for a visit. In January 2007 Catherine went back to Oz and they have been back and forth since.
In December 2009 they were married in Winnipeg. She has a home in Transcona and Ian has one in Lilydale, Victoria. So they spend our winters in Oz and summers here.
Ian is very interested in ride-on miniature trains and has his own steam locomotive. He is a member of the Assiniboine Valley Railway and the Manitoba Live Steamers.
Told you their stories had a complicated and poignant side.