John Merton Bowes

June 17, 1927April 5, 2021

Passed away peacefully April 5, 2021 at his Peterborough residence. John was born in Hollywood, CA, June 17, 1927 of Canadian parents, W. Merton Bowes and Olive H. Bowes (nee Murray) and grew up with brother Donald, sisters Margaret and Patricia. Choosing Canadian citizenship, John brought his tremendous love of all things real estate to Peterborough while in his 20s and co-founded Bowes & Cocks. During that time he met and married first wife Wihla Bottum , raising 3 children, Michael, Jaimie (Barbara) and Stephen, first in Westmount Gardens and later at Old Orchard Farm. John, always the visionary anticipating the shifting needs of the housing market, worked tirelessly to develop such Ontario landmarks as Gannon Beach, Deer Bay, Shawano, University Heights and Emerald Isle, to name only a few.

He was one of the pioneering first to propose the express highway now known as the 407 and to recommend to the City of Peterborough they reserve land to build the Parkway. During the late 70s he bought into a new Denver-based real estate marketing franchise that has a distinctive balloon logo. Re/Max Eastern Realty was founded, now one of the longest operating Re/Max franchises on the continent. John bought the rights to the east half of Peterborough county first (best $9,000 I ever spent) and a short time later secured the western portion. During that time he met and married Kelly Richardson (Miss Kelly Romper Room) and it was a package deal bringing 4 more daughters into his family. Cindy, Paula, Anna Louise and Mary Judith; he loved each of them as his own. His grandchildren, Justin, Mitchell, Jonathan, Laura, Katie and Kelly adored him and sought his wise counsel throughout their lives. John was very proud of each of them. Family events were truly spectacular, first on Dalhousie St, later at their custom-built pool home on Pinewood Circle and in recent years, beside the creek in Riverpark Village. Rather than upset the neighbours, John would simply invite them to the party too.

He chose not to officially retire until April of 2020, a strategic move that garnered him the distinction of being a licensed Real Estate Broker in the Province of Ontario for 70 consecutive years. A goal few have attained. Managing the company did not preclude him playing hooky and having fun. John enjoyed flying seaplanes, boating on his beloved Kawartha Lakes and travelling the world. Relatives and friends, remember him for his loving heart, love of animals, his patience and wisdom and his uncanny vision for the future. Always fascinating because so much of what he stood for and believed in, became a reality. Business colleagues credit John, in many cases, with starting their careers and mentoring them along the way. A savvy financial planner and an expert personality manager, he had much to share and he did so freely. He had the most marvelous way of helping people seek the good in almost every situation imaginable.

The Ontario real estate industry has lost a leadership icon and a legend. The family wishes to acknowledge Helen for bringing both love and levity to John’s final years. Special thanks to John and Vi, you know who you are, a pity the melody didn’t play longer. Due to Coronavirus limitations, Comstock-Kaye Life Celebration Centre advises limited visitation access to immediate family members by invitation only, on Friday, April 9th. Following which, family and friends are invited to view the private interment at the Little Lake Cemetery through livestream on the Comstock-Kaye Life Celebration Centre website at 3:00 p.m. online. The family plans a Celebration in honour of John’s life at a later date. Donations to the Canadian Cancer Society, in lieu of flowers, are suggested. Online condolences may be made at


  • Livestream of the Interment

    Friday, April 9, 2021



John Merton Bowes

have a memory or condolence to add?

Michael Bowes

April 10, 2021

Forever in my heart. The very best Dad a man could wish for. This is the last photo taken of the two of us together. Pity, the melody didn't play longer.

Jana Reid

April 9, 2021

I've met John only a handful of times over the years and have always found him warm, engaging, welcoming, and he possessed a great sense of humour. He carried himself with dignity and grace and my heart goes out to all those closest to him. God
speed John.

Charles Jewett

April 9, 2021

Uncle John was always a man ahead of his time. John opened a Winter Park at Old Orchard, true to form he had the first snowmobile there for his guests. Thanks to John all his nieces and nephews were introduced to snowmobiling.

Maryanne Bowes Conklin

April 9, 2021

John Bowes was my father's younger brother.  Growing up our two families spent so much time together.  There are so many memories.  He was smart, and a visionary for sure. He had a zest for life that propelled him forward.  But to me he was Uncle John.

Because of his visionary mind and entrepreneurial spirit, us kids reaped the benefits and had an amazing childhood. From early cottage life in one of the 1st cottage developments that he Old Orchard Ski Park, to his country home Old Orchard, where all us kids ran free and I fell in love with horses. Then there was the Sandy Point years on Pigeon Lake, with boating, the sea plane, the big house and many family gatherings.

The memories keep flooding in. But it wasn't until I was much older that respect and appreciation turned into love from the heart.  He lived many years pass his siblings. He genuinely cared for all of his extended family members.  He became the elder statesman of the family who offered support, advice and encouragement.

He has become my example that old age doesn't have to old. It doesn't mean a stop to productivity. If you can dream it, you can do it. And don't forget to keep living life to the fullest.  This is what I will carry into my senior years.

Thank you Uncle John. You will be missed.

Suzanne Brake

April 9, 2021

My mother worked for John for over 40 years and she truly worshipped him. John wasn't just Mom's boss, he was like family. He and Kelly graciously opened their home to us on my wedding day so that we could take pictures on their beautiful property. John was an amazing host and welcomed a lot of "Newfies" to his home. I also rented a property for 6 years from landlord ever! There are so many memories of Christmas parties and other milestones that I will cherish, along with a few personal finance lessons lol. Although we now have a void, the fulfillment we had for many years will be cherished. Rest easy John xo.

Carolyn Morrison

April 9, 2021

I can still remember the day that I went for my secretarial interview with John on October 31st, 1983. He sat behind, what seemed to be a huge desk as I remember, and as soon as we started talking all my nervousness simply disappeared. John was a gentle man that had an uncanny way of making you feel totally at ease. He was a great leader of many things - developing this RE/MAX company that other realtors scoffed at and making it a company to watch out for, a writer of books, developing the City of Peterborough which was a place he loved. I remember John and Kelly greeting all their guests at the annual Christmas parties with smiles, hugs and handshakes. He was a wonderful family man that spoke highly of all his children. John will leave a void that will be hard to fill - just a great gentle soft spoken man who will be greatly missed. RIP John

Jaimie Bowes

April 9, 2021

Duck Commander forever in our 💕

Jaimie Bowes

April 9, 2021

I will always be close to you in my heart Dad💕

Cathy Barker

April 8, 2021

I worked for John for over thirty years. He was so down to earth, caring and friendly.
I can still picture him walking in the office every morning smiling, dressed up in a suit and tie, taking the time to stop and greet the support staff.
If there was a problem, you could always go to John knowing he would have a solution.
I have so many good memories of John over my thirty years at RE/MAX, I will always cherish them.
Rest In Peace John.

Diana Drury

April 8, 2021

A life well lived is a precious gift, of hope and strength and grace, from someone who has made our world a brighter better place.
It’s filled with moments, sweet and sad with smiles and sometimes tears, with friendships formed and good times shared, and laughter through the years.
A life well lived is a legacy, of joy and pride and pleasure, a living-lasting memory our grateful heart’s will treasure.

RIP John -love and hugs Diana

“Still enjoying the ride at 91” John & Helen cruising on Rice Lake