Historic Sites in Scarborough Heights
Robert Burns -- Move Over!
But, how many of us know that Canada has "Our Very Own Burns" in Alexander Muir, author of the famous anthem, The Maple Leaf Forever? And how many in Metro Toronto know that Muir grew up and taught school in Scarborough... and recorded the minutes of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church congregational meetings? He was also St. Andrew's "Precentor" in the days before the choir and organ.
Alex Muir was born in Lesmahagow Parish, Lanarkshire, on April 5 1830. He was baptised alongside Jean McCowan the youngest daughter of James and Margaret McCowan. The James McCowan and John Muir families lived but a mile apart in Lesmahagow and it is likely that Jean's older brothers and sisters were educated by Alex's father, John, a schoolteacher.
The McCowans and Muirs crossed the Atlantic on the same ship in 1833 and settled within a mile of each other near the Scarborough Bluffs.
Alex appears to have been a rather vocal member of the "Scotch Kirk in Scarborough". From St. Andrew's records for January 1862, we know that:
Although Muir was not living in Scarborough in 1867 when he wrote The Maple Leaf Forever, it was his formative years in this "Township" that "set the stage". Space does not permit us to go on at length about Muir's interesting career -- indeed books could be written. Muir died on June 26 1906.
In recognition of Alexander Muir's outstanding contribution to Canada's culture, the McCowan Society and Scarborough Scottish Heritage Society are holding an "Alex Muir Supper" on March 30 1996, 6 PM at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 115 St. Andrew's Road, Scarborough.
Our guest speaker is Shirley Drummond. As a retired high school teacher, Shirley has been researching and writing a book about the life and times of Alexander Muir.
The Muir Supper is the Society's major fundraising initiative in support of "Scarborough's Scottish Heritage BiCentennial Projects". The Society is honoured to have well-known television personality, Glenn Cochrane, as The Master of Ceremonies and Shirley Drummond as Guest Speaker -- "Alexander Muir, and The Maple Leaf Forever". Thanks also to the Kelly Biduke School of Highland Dancing, Milligan Memorial Pipe Band and Tenor Eric McKeracher accompanied by Joanne McLennan for providing excellent entertainment.
From "From Croft to Clearing", Vol. 4 No. 1