McCowan Society Projects
The James McCowan Memorial Social History Society
The Scots have made an enormous contribution to western society. The stories of the prominent statesmen and bankers have already largely been told. Our focus is the "non-prominent" or "ordinary" Scot and Scottish-Canadian and, in particular, oral history. We trust that this mandate is sufficiently focused so as to not conflict with the objects of other organizations. We hope to generate awareness as to the important contributions of "ordinary" people in the cultural and economic development of the Canadian multi-cultural mosaic.
The McCowan Society is grateful for the support of our Benefactors and Patrons. Benefactors are members of the Society who have made a contribution to the Society or to one of our projects of $500.00 or more. Patrons are members who have made a contribution of between $100.00 and $500.00.
With respect to our research in Scotland,
We have been honoured to have had
Our Late Honorary Chairmen
The Late Lord Justice Sir Anthony McCowan
The Late Mr. R.D. Hunter M.B.E.
Correspondence and inquiries should be sent to:
The ordinary Scots in the eighteenth century typically shared their primitive rural dwelling with their livestock. A crude log cabin protected the early Scottish settler from the wild animals of the Canadian forest. The Maple tree, made famous in Canada by Alexander Muir from Scotland, camouflages the distinction between Scotland and Canada -- the cultural and economic ties between the old country and the new remained profoundly strong for several generations and should, today, be energetically renewed through appreciation of a common heritage.
Our logo, From Croft to Clearing, was first created by our Membership Secretary, Mrs. Nancy McCowan, as the McCowan Society block in "The Metro Heritage Quilt". The Quilt, produced for 46 local heritage groups, was presented to the people of Metropolitan Toronto on Heritage Day, February 15, 1993. Ultimately, the quilt is to hang in Metro Hall at a location to be determined by the Public Art Policy Advisory Committee of Metro.
The From Croft to Clearing Logo above was very kindly drawn by George Duncan.
From the preamble to Fairs and Frolics: Scottish Communities at Work and Play
As a service to those who purchase one of the McCowan Society publications (other than Curling), we will reveal 5 sources for passages of interest that appear on this web site.
One component of this web site is "People" -- this page includes some biographical material on various McCowans and others who have made notable contributions to their respective communities.
And in Partnership with
Now Available from The McCowan Society... "The Lowland Clearances": The Book, by Peter Aitchison and Andrew Cassell -- more of the data that was gathered for the acclaimed three-part BBC Radio Scotland Series. Including interviews with descendants of Scarborough's Scottish families (Tuckwell Press) $29.00. Order a copy... This publication is a followup to the BBC-Radio Scotland series. The McCowan Society was pleased to help with this exciting investigation into a little-known but dramatic socio-economic disruption in Scotland.
Our Walking Tour on Sept. 20, 2003, "The Pioneers' Kingston Road Historic Walk", was a major success. Almost 70 treked along the original line of the "Gateway to the City". Among the crowd were a number of descendants of the Annis brothers who had cleared the trail over 200 years ago. From sales of Neigh the Front: Exploring Scarboro Heights that day, the McCowan Society donated $146.50 to the Washington United Church Cemetery Restoration Fund. Jim Morrisey, Clara Leask, John Alexander and a few others won prizes during "quiz time". They had to remember the significant events that have been sculpted into Passage, in honour of Doris McCarthy. Olga Piotrowski was the winner of our lucky draw -- a very nice coffee table book called "Highland Wilderness".
Our next Historic Walk will be in May 2004 -- please stand by for details.
The Scarboro Heights Record V11 #10
Historic Sites Walking Tour
Wha: The Pioneers' Kingston Road Historic Walk. Following the old route blazed by the Annis brothers over 200 years ago and finishing up at Washington United Church, 3739 Kingston Rd. for a Corn Roast / BBQ (modest extra cost). The historic walk is the fourth led by Bruce and Bea McCowan. We'll pass close by the earliest known site of human occupation in Toronto -- 10,000 years ago! Experience the trials of the pioneer families -- Annis, Cornell, Crone, Gates, Muir, McCowan, Stobo, Washington and others.
When: Sept. 20 2003, 2:00 pm (Rain date is the following day, 2 pm)
Where: For starting location and other details, call 416-447-4895 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why: Fundraiser for Scarborough's oldest public art -- to help restore damaged gravestones at Washington United Church. 2003 is the 200th Anniversary of Washington United Church. This walk is a joint project of the Scarboro Heights Record and the Bi-Centennial Committee.
Toronto -- A Place of
Toronto Reference Library, TD Canada Trust Gallery
The McCowan Collection
The Robert Ashbridge McCowan and William Harold McCowan Collections of aboriginal artifacts include the earliest known evidence of human occupation in Toronto, approximately 8,000 BC. The sub-title of the exhibition, 10,000 years of Toronto History, was so chosen because of two of these relics found by Ashley and Harold McCowan. For many years, a partial skull was also in the attic of the Harold McCowan home -- and the associated family story relates to the "wigwam that must have been down by the bush".
James McCowans letter of August 20 1834 was written from Springbank, Scarborough, 8 days before his death of cholera. This letter is an Upper Canada medical history treasure, not just for its references to the cholera deaths in the neighbourhood but, in particular, for McCowans first-person description of the early symptoms of cholera. Springbank was on Lot 20 Concession B less than 1/2 mile east of the location of the aboriginal artifact finds. Notes regarding this medical history treasure.
You can also take the Virtual Tour at http://indexes.tpl.toronto.on.ca/vexhibit/Toronto/TPM/home.html. Click on the spearpoint and then on the "View Timeline" link to start your tour of the McCowan Collection. The "Paleo-Indian", "Archaic Spear Points", "Ground Stone Axes" and "Ontario Iroquoian Pottery" are from the McCowan Collection. The James McCowan letter of 1834 is only in the virtual tour. The estimate of 500 deaths by cholera in York that year is probably low -- many were very quickly buried in common graves.
The Scarboro Heights Record V11 #6
May 31 2003, 1:30 PM
Scarborough Arts Council
1859 Kingston Road, Scarborough
Contact email@example.com or call 416-447-4895.
BBC Radio Scotland
So BBC are coming to Canada on Jan. 31, 2003, to interview some of the McCowans here regarding Lowland Scottish emigration to Scarborough, Canada. The "McCowan Segment" of the "Lowland Clearances" series will discuss the past 300 years of the Ayrshire McCowan family history. The series will be broadcast in late May / early June this year.
BBC would also like to communicate with descendants of other Cumnock, Ayrshire, McCowan families. You don't have to be a family history expert. Please email us the details of your connection with the McCowans of Cumnock.
BBC will also interview several other families that came from the Lesmahagow area to Scarborough in the 1830s. The following families (and others) made that journey: Stobo, Hamilton, Rae, Purdie, Young, Muir, Gibson, Weir, Neilson, Torrance, Lawrie, Tacket, Tudhope.
Please let us know as soon as possible if we can give your name, address, email address and phone number to the BBC Producers. If you can recommend another member of your family, please pass along their name and contact information.Our publications place the experience of the ordinary Scots within the wider context of the community. More info here... The Scarboro Heights Record V11 #1
The McCowan Collection
Where: North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge St., Toronto,
Meeting Room 1
Bruce McCowan of the James McCowan Memorial Social History Society will speak about the archival and artifact collections of the McCowan family of Scarborough. From the oldest known evidence of human occupation in Toronto -- 10,000 year-old aboriginal spear points -- to oral histories gathered very recently for the latest McCowan Society publication, Bruce will survey a broad range of leases, wills, personal letters, bankruptcy papers, coins, furniture and architectural and agricultural relics, all weaving the story of an ordinary Scottish Canadian farm family into the wider context of their community.
Directions and more info...
The McCowans' Who's Who, Vol. 11
The James McCowan
Toronto Reference Library, Canada Trust Gallery
On Display will be
The Scarboro Heights Record V10 #5
We are flattered that the McCowan Settlement site on Meadowcliffe Drive is one of only 14 "Lost Historic Sites in Toronto" that were selected to be on www.city.toronto.on.ca/torontoplan/lost.htm.
The Scarborough McCowans Invite You to a
McCowan Family Reunion
Saturday, September 14, 2002
We'd love to meet McCowans of any connection
If you're coming from out of town
The Scarboro Heights Record V10 #6
Neigh the Front
Visitors since October 8, 2006