History

Sir Eric Vansittart Bowater, LL. D.
[Source: S.J. Carew, The Nine Lives of Paton College, (1974) p.11-12]

Sir Eric Vansittart Bowater was born on January 16th, 1895, the son of Sir Frederick W. Bowater, K.B.E., and Dame Alice Bowater. His ancestry can be traced back to 1634. Sir Eric served with the Royal Artillery from 1913 to 1917, and was badly wounded at Ypres; his often referred to "ramrod figure" is partly attributable to this.

Sir Eric entered the family business of W.V. Bowater and Sons in 1919 and in 1924 after the death of his father who, together with uncles Sir Thomas and Sir Francis, were running the business, Sir Eric undertook the task of converting the business from newsprint merchants to newsprint manufacturers, having to overcome the objections of his uncles in the process. In 1926, with the assistance of Lord Rothermere, the first Bowater mill was built at Northfleet, and Sir Eric never looked back thereafter. Mill followed mill, and acquisition of associated type industries led him to Newfoundland in 1938, to Tennessee, U.S.A., in 1952, to Carolina in 1954 and to Liverpool, Nova Scotia in 1956.

Although Sir Eric was an indefatigable worker and organizer, a fact to which the great Bowater organization bears witness, nevertheless he had a flair for knowing how to relax. Properties such as Strawberry Hill at Corner Brook, and Holly Hill at Riceville, Tennessee were designed and intended for entertainment and relaxation during Sir Eric's frequent visits to the manufacturing plants in these areas. Royalty (Her Majesty the Queen has been Sir Eric's guest as Strawberry Hill), Governors General, Lt. Governors and State Governors have been amongst the distinguished list of visitors at these official residences. An invitation to Bowater's fishing lodge on the Serpentine River in Western Newfoundland as a guest of Sir Eric Bowater was a much sought after prize among Sir Eric's friends and Bowaters important publisher customers.

In addition to being an industrialist, Sir Eric was also a gentleman farmer. At his home in Dene Place, Surrey, besides the lawns and ornamental gardens, there were 300 acres of pasture land where one of the finest herds of Guernsey cattle in England was raised. Soon after coming to Newfoundland he established Hammonds Farm on the banks of the Humber River and raised a championship herd of Ayrshire cows. The main barn was so well equipped and maintained that it was known throughout Eastern Canada as the "Hospital for Cows", not that anyone would ever refer to it as such in Sir Eric's presence.

Sir Eric Bowater's success as an entrepreneur is not difficult to measure. At the time of his death on August 30th, 1962, the Bowater organization could boast total assets of 194,891,000 Sterling, and annual sales of 2,422,000 long tons of paper, pulp and other products valued at 150,818,000 Sterling truly a magnificent achievement from the building of the first Bowater mill in 1926.

He served the University as a member of the Board of Regents from 1952-1962, and is the holder of the University's LL.D. (honoris causa), receiving this degree posthumously on May 18, 1963.


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