Gowans, Walter

Sudan Interior Mission

Walter Gowans was a Canadian cofounder of Sudan Interior Mission. It was the vision and burden of Gowans’s mother, Margaret, passed on to her son, that inspired Gowans, Rowland Bingham, and Thomas Kent in 1893 to set out for the interior of West Africa, known then as the Soudan. Of the three founders, Gowans seems to have been the leader. In spite of his early death at Ghirku in present-day Nigeria in November 1894, Gowans has remained an important inspiration to many, particularly through quotations like these from an 1893 letter to friends: “Our success in this enterprise means nothing less than the opening of the country for the gospel: our failure, at the most nothing more than the death of two or three deluded fanatics”; and again, “Sixty millions are at stake! Is it not worth even risking our lives for so many?”

Gary R. Corwin


An unpublished biography of Gowans by Kerry Lovering is available from SIM, Scarborough, Ontario. Papers related to Gowans’s life and work may be found in the SIM archives in Charlotte, N.C.

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.