Justice Rowe was born in 1953 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, to parents from small fishing communities.
He attended Memorial University from 1970 to 1975 where he earned a B.Sc., B.A. in political science. He then attended Osgoode Hall Law School from 1975 to 1978, where he earned his LL.B. He was called to the Bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1978 and became a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1986.