This site on King Street West is also known as Lot 6 and had been granted by the Crown to Ann Morden in 1798. The farmland was sold to William Hare in 1808 who opened Hare Street, which was renamed King Street in 1830.
A succession of landowners followed, including wealthy lawyer George Rolph (owner from about 1829-1832) who in turn sold it as lots. Rolph retained a passageway to his vast estate from King Street to Park Street and on to today’s Driving Park. This was marked by stone gateposts and walls at the site of the present building.
In about 1920 David Bawtinheimer erected a two storey brick and concrete building for his Dundas Garage & Sales Co. The space was later leased as Mackay and Kerwin’s Car Dealership and Eaton Motor Sales. Early Dodges, Buicks, DeSotos and McLaughlins were sold and serviced here.
In 1973 the premises was purchased by Herb Bowes, who had operated his dry-cleaning business in the building since 1948. The family business continues on today with Paul and Anna Bowes. Some of the building’s many tenants over the years have included Gray’s Florist, Our Gang Records, Bean & Brew, Dream Time Travel Agency and Mimi’s Restaurant.
The fire that raged along King Street on September 27, 1881 consumed 18 buildings from Cross Street to the Collins Hotel. Flames destroyed Webster’s feed store, the Dufferin Hotel, and Laing’s Wellington block. The building owned by James Cantwell which housed Patrick Brady’s new tin goods store is the site of today’s Bowes Building. This building was also destroyed in the fire.
Progress of the fire was stopped short of the Collins Hotel only when volunteers and firefighters pulled down Collins’ pork store and part of James Cantwell’s store.
Reconstruction began immediately and by 1882 most businesses were reopened in new premises. The lot now occupied by the Bowes Building remained vacant until 1920.