Note: This page is not yet complete. Many details regarding the McCowan farms in Scarborough will be added.
In 1833, the McCowan family had their modest beginning as tenant farmers at Springbank, lot 20 concession B and C, on the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs. William, the youngest brother, would continue farming there until 1848. But expansion of their operations was deemed very important much earlier.
On April 1 1839 James and Robert McCowan signed a three year lease with Edward Cornell for "the improved part of lot number seventeen and eighteen in Concession C Township of Scarborough... except sixteen acres of wheat now growing on said lots also that part of the dwelling house on said premises erected above the cellar and cellar kitchen in said house not including in this reservation a certain ancient building adjoining said dwelling... at the yearly rent of one hundred and fifty pounds Provincial currency." This very detailed 10 page lease was witnessed by Charles Cornell, James Gibson and George Bambridge. This farm at the foot of Markham Road was directly east of the original McCowan settlement at the edge of the bluffs.
Robert McCowan stayed on this rented Cornell farm for a number of years.
Robert McCowan bought his homestead in 1853, the west half of lot 22 concession c, on McCowan Road between Kingston Road and Eglinton.
James McCowan (1814-1897)
The Directories for 1846-47 and 1850-1 list James McCowan on Lot 24 Concession D and Lot 23 Concession D respectively (at the present Eglinton Ave. and McCowan Rd.). There is little doubt that he was a tenant of John Torrance who, in 1830, had purchased the south quarter of Lot 23 together with an adjacent strip off the east side of Lot 24 Con. D. According to an unpublished history of the Torrance Family of Etobicoke, their progenitor, also named John Torrance, was "a relative" of John Torrance of Scarborough, the township reeve in 1854. The John Torrance in Etobicoke had spent his first few months in Canada working for this John Torrance in Scarborough and the next year working for Andrew Young, son-in-law of that John Torrance. John Torrance of Etobicoke had arrived in Toronto from Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, in 1848 and was transported to Scarborough by "James McKewon" according to this Torrance family history paper.
James McCowan bought his 100 acre homestead, lot 33 concession C, on the
south side of Eglinton at Warden in 1856.