Passing of a Remarkable Person – Our Colonel Alec Cowan, CD3

It was with much sadness that I learned, from Barry Mackay’s email, of the passing of a truly remarkable Newfoundlander and Labradorean, our own Colonel Alec Cowan. I had the personal honour and privilege of knowing Alec and his wonderful loving wife, Florence, for approximately 50 years. I first met Alec some 50 years ago when Colonel Jack Allston recruited me to get involved with the Army Cadet League of Canada (NL), the Signal Hill Tattoo and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

From the moment I was introduced to Alec I knew that he was a remarkable person, who exuded knowledge, leadership qualities, sincere kindness and concern, and admirable commitment for all things military and youth related.

Colonel Cowan was one of the most dependable persons whom I have ever met. When Alec walked into a room his demeanour and stature made him stand out from others. Colonel Cowan, a very humble man, never looked for personal accolades or recognition; he was totally task oriented. In retrospect, I personally feel that Alec should have received much more community recognition for his many years of military service and community involvement.

Colonel Cowan joined the Royal Newfoundland Regiment as a Private (bugler) in March 1950. In 1955 he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant with 1 Royal Newfoundland Regiment. In 1964 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to H.R.H. Princess Mary – The Princess Royal. In 1968 Alex was attached to the 2nd Black Watch in Gagetown, N.B. Promoted to LCol in 1970 and appointed Commanding Officer of 36 Service Battalion. In 1974 he was appointed Commanding Officer of 1 Royal Newfoundland Regiment. In 1975 Colonel Cowan was appointed Commanding Officer of Newfoundland Militia District. In 1980 he was appointed ADC to The Governor General of Canada. In 1994, Alec was appointed Honourary Colonel of the 36 Battalion. Alec was so proud of his many years of service as a Singing Legionnaire.  Colonel Cowan never forgot his family’s strong farming roots and love for horses, and this was evident in his fond endeavours as a long-time member of the Newfoundland Trail Riders Association.  Colonel Cowan is married to Florence Blundon of Bay de Verde, the love of his life, and they have 3 children and a number of loving grandchildren.

In my opinion, if there is a person, in modern times, who truly deserved a full Regimental Funeral it would be Colonel Alec Cowan, but unfortunately Covid-19 restrictions will more than likely not permit the consideration of same.

I was so pleased to hear, from Barry’s feedback, that our own Padre Ian Wishart was with Colonel Cowan just before he slipped from this world – what a fitting end-of-life occurrence for a remarkable military officer.

Our prayers and deepest condolences go to Florence, the Cowan Family members, and Alec’s many friends and fellow servicemen and women, on the passing of a “Remarkable Person.” R.I.P. Colonel Cowan.

(Gary Browne, RNR Advisory Council, 10 June 2020)

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1 Comment

  1. Col Cowan was the quintessential officer and a gentleman. He was the Commander of Newfoundland Militia District when I enrolled in 56 Field Engineer Squadron. From a young sapper’s perspective he was an awe inspiring figure. I recall at one of our social events in the Garrison Club, he would engage in leg wrestling bouts with anyone who would challenge him. I never saw him lose a match. It was a remarkable display of a confidence and easy rapport with the junior soldiers. Later in my career I would come to know and respect his quiet resolve and dignity, always championing the welfare of the Army Reserve soldier. I recall later as a senior army leader when he was serving as Honourary Colonel that he did not waste word at national conferences, but when he had something to say, everyone paid attention. A great loss to us all. Chimo Col Alex.

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