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Please click on the above links to access articles from my newsletter, The Scarboro Heights Record, and the publications
of the James McCowan Memorial Social History Society.
Concern for the environment is not just a
"late-20th-century-thing". Slightly over two hundred years ago in the early stages of
the industrial revolution, people in Lanarkshire, Scotland, were becoming aware of
Rural Industrial Pollution and
The rural industries including coal, lime, tar, lead and iron
works were beginning to have a negative impact on the environment. Rev. George Mark of
Carnwath remarked in 1794 that:
Large pike are also found in the old runs of the Clyde. The water that comes from
the ironworks seems to be unfriendly to trouts, as none are to be found for a great way
below the works, where they formerly abounded.
In Hamilton Parish, John Naismith, author of Thoughts on Various Subjects of
Industry Pursued After in Scotland, commented on other factors in fish population
The quantity of salmon, in particular, has much decreased of late years. The number
of fry killed by anglers, the great fishery carried on in the populous country lower down
the Clyde [Glasgow], the deepening of the channel for improving the navigation from the
sea to Glasgow, and the manufacturing machinery erected on the river, are supposed to have
disturbed and destroyed the fish and, by preventing them from getting regularly to their
spawning ground, must necessarily have diminished their numbers.
And in Lesmahagow Parish:
Salmon, also, from the Clyde, go up the Nethan and even to the Logan in the month of
August and spawn there; but a cruive now put across the mouth of the first obstructs them
greatly, and is likewise thought to have diminished the number of trouts.
Statistical Account, Lanarkshire (early 1790s)
As cited in When the Ground Fails: An
A generation later, in the 1830s, many Lanarkshire folk came to
Scarborough, by this time partially deforested.
A new cycle of
environmental awareness would begin six decades later when thousands of young maples were planted along rural roadsides.
Henry Westney of the West Hill district of Scarborough was "a retired
tree importer" according to a circa 1915 news clipping and was
responsible for the spruce tree planting on the west side of St. Andrew's
Presbyterian Church. Almost all of the century-plus-old maples at St. Andrew's
have died (Dec. 2012) as have many maples along southern Ontario's rural roadsides.
(See also Chadwick/McCowan, The Scots Kirk.)