Historic Sites in Scarborough Heights
Links for Toronto Links
Scarboro Heights Record
Search This Site
Table of Contents
Legends of Scarboro
- Was an Indian woman the only female encountered by Mary Thomson during her first seven
lonely months in Scarborough toward the end of the eighteenth century?
- Did British soldiers really bury their money in Gates Gully during
the War of 1812?
- Did Andrew Thomson land a fish from Highland Creek in the middle of Scarborough that was
an honest five feet long?
- Did rebel leader William Lyon McKenzie actually hide in the cellar of Levi Annis' Inn on Kingston Road in the days following the
Rebellion of 1837?
These are just a few of the anecdotes that were finally jotted on paper following
decades of re-hashing by industrious farm folk around kitchen tables, at the handiest
tavern and at Scarboro Fair. Did the story change even just a
little with each successive spin of the yarn? We'll probably never know, but we do know
that such are the legends of Scarborough. But how many other legends have we lost because
no one took the time to write down even a line or two?(1)
Did the earliest immigrants to Scarboro from Scotland and elsewhere bring with them
olden tales of achievement and tragedy, of love and hate in the homeland? Such stories,
too, are part of the heritage of the peoples of Scarborough. For instance, did James
McCowan tell his children about his years of serfdom in the Cumnock
coal pits? Did James talk about his brief encounters with Robert
Burns, an international hero of common folk? Of a much earlier period, could a young Robert McCowan have heard tales of
the McCowan Standard-Bearers in the service of Robert the Bruce?
Like the McCowans, many other Scarborough families immigrated from the Clyde Valley in
upper Lanarkshire. Surely they must have imported stories about life and legend before
Canada. Did James Weir, born on a farm on the estate of
Stonebyres, hear anything of his feudal blood connection with the Chief of Clan Weir in
Lanarkshire? Alas, to our knowledge, there are no such stories -- written or unwritten --
that genealogically connect the Weirs of Scarborough with the lords of Stonebyres castle,
originally spelled "De Vere". But what has been written of the ancient
first family of Lesmahagow Parish is certainly interesting. Fortunately, Tales
and Legends of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire was published in 1860.
I will eventually reprint one of these Lanarkshire legends. For now, here is an outline
of the opening several paragraphs of the 24 page "Ada De Vere -- A Legend of
- Thomas De Vere, lord of the castle of Stonebyres had once "strenuously opposed the
rapacious claims of the English king who illegally aspired to the sovereignty of
- But now, at the dawn of the fourteenth century, he had no choice but to allow
"Saxon" officers to frequently occupy the halls of his mansion
- Many officers had tried without success to win the affection of the daughter of
Stonebyres, the beautiful Ada
- A handsome young Saxon officer, Ferrars, came to the Lanark garrison "scornfully
despising everything which pertained to the conquered Scots"
- Hearing from his fellow soldiers of the beauty of Ada De Vere, he secured an opportunity
to visit the house of Stonebyres that he might personally judge her charms
- Kindly received by Thomas De Vere, Ferrars finally met Ada and was profoundly smitten.
- "A mutual flame had now been kindled in their youthful bosoms and they would
frequently ramble for hours alone in the woods"
- William Wallace, having had "retired to the dens and caves that had been his
lurking places in times of old, whence he sallied out with the utmost secrecy, and
continually harassed the Saxon soldiery that garrisoned the various fortresses", was
the noble leader of a guerilla band who would hang, without mercy, any unwary Saxons
- One evening, Wallace jumped from a thicket, "eyes flashing with rage and right hand
uplifted", and confronted the unaccompanied Ferrars and Ada
- Addressing Ferrars, Wallace bellowed "draw and defend thy dastard self, if one
single drop of manly blood still flows in your veins"
- Surely great raw material for a creative drama production!
(1) Thanks to David Boyle who gathered the data and put together History
of Scarboro, 1796-1896.
The Scarboro Heights Record V10