Historic Sites in Scarborough Heights
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Scarboro Heights Record
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Next to Niagara Falls, Ontario's most extraordinary natural feature is the
glacial deposit known as the "Scarborough Bluffs. This watercolour, depicting
"The Dutch Churches" is a treasured wedding gift from the late Mary McCowan
Woodburn. Indeed, the Bluffs are Scarborough's most notable "site of
I've left "spaces" in the following "Sites of Interest"
numbering scheme so that I can add more sites to the list as well as to the reference map
that I'm preparing. (Please stand by for the map.) Sites on "lot 1"
(beside Pickering) Concessions D to 5 will be numbered 100 to 199, with number 100 being
closest to Lake Ontario. Similarly, sites beside Victoria Park Ave. (lot 35 concessions A
to 5) are numbered 3500 to 3599 with number 3500 being in the extreme southwest corner of
the old City of Scarborough.
As you can imagine -- in our modern metropolis, most of these are "lost historic
sites". I will add linked pages that provide more detail for many of these
sites. You may then have a deeper appreciation for the heritage resources that we have
lost when you visit these places.
As a service to those who purchase one of the
McCowan Society publications (other than Curling), the Society
will reveal 5 sources for passages of interest that appear on this web site.
Sorry, this is not "THE MAP" -- but it will "have to do" for
the next little while! Sorry!
See also Miles' Map of Scarborough, 1878
||Jeremiah Annis fieldstone farmhouse, 1867, on
the land first squatted by the Annis brothers, ca 1793, lot 16, concession D.
||Site of the "William Wallace Inn" (ca 1835) kept by John Muir, a
popular school teacher and father of Alexander Muir, the author
of "The Maple Leaf Forever".
||Wreck of the Alexandria, Aug. 3 1915.
||Scarborough Village Public School, 1913, oldest school in Scarborough
recently in conventional educational uses. (3170 Eglinton Ave. demolished 1999 )
||Burrows Hall, Scarborough's first Town Hall
||The extent of the prehistoric Lake Iroquois is clearly evident as one
proceeds cautiously down this very steep hill on Meadowcliff Drive to the site of the James McCowan family settlement, "Springbank", 1833, lot
20 Concession C.
||Site of Jonathan Gates' Tavern on Kingston Road,
rallying point for the loyal Scarborough men on Dec. 5, 1837, lot 20 Concession C. "A
wild beast show and circus was exhibited at Gates's in 1843; another in 1845."
||Currently the earliest known site of human occupation
in Metro Toronto, 8,000 BC approx.
||Site of first ploughing match in Scarborough,
ca 1830, farm of Robert Stobo, lot 21, concession C. (DB 76)
||Site of Kingston Road Toll Gate, Stobo farm, lot 21, Concession C.
||Scarborough Heights, the highest point of the
Scarborough Bluffs, lots 22-23, Concession B. Commemorated in the street name, Scarborough
||Site of the convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph,
1917. Cathedral Bluffs Drive commemorates the presence of the order in this
location. "St. Joseph's Academy were out to see their new school. They are
getting along fine, are up to the second storey and have the window frames all set. It
looks immense from here [McCowan home] but when you get beside it, it looks long and
narrow. I suppose this will be the main building and they will have wings from it."
||Site of Survey Tower, 19th c.
||McCowan Road, named for the Robert McCowan family who farmed the northwest
82 acres of lot 22, concession C at Kingston Road for almost 100 years. Stephen Washington had owned this farm from 1830 until 1848. He
later held Robert McCowan's mortgage on the farm when McCowan purchased it from William
Crone in 1853. Washington wrote an article for a newspaper in which he describes this
farm: "There were some improvements on the place and some buildings but of little
value. We paid $7.50 per acre. At the north part of the lot was built the old Scarboro
Station. It was splendid land -- we raised great crops of wheat, 40 bushels to the acre.
We had one year, from a little less than four acres, about 1,700 bushels of potatoes,
which we sold for $600."
||Robert (Ashley) McCowan house, 1917. This brick
farmhouse incorporates part of the Stephen Washington house. Washington was founder of
Washington Methodist Church on the Annis farm "Peter Heron was here today
moving the old kitchen for Ashley. They have torn the mud brick part away and will brick
clad the frame part that they are leaving for the kitchen."
||Site of the Grand Trunk Railway station at the
north end of the Robert McCowan farm, lot 22, concession C.
||"There grew this season, in the kitchen garden of Mr. John Torrance,
farmer in Scarborough, an immense carrot of the following dimensions -- length fourteen
inches, circumference twenty six inches, which thickness it maintained nearly throughout
its entire length; and weighed ten pounds without the top or vine as it is commonly called
in Canada. It was of the pale orange kind and is probably the largest carrot on record in
||The December 26, 1842, curling match between the Scarboro and Toronto
Clubs was played near the residence of John Torrance, probably on a section of the Highland Creek which passed through his land, lots 22-24, Concession
D. (ref BC). The first recorded match between Scarborough and Toronto was held in 1835 --
many of these early annual matches were played on Toronto Bay.
William Purdie, James W. McCowan, James Weir, James Gibson and Abraham Torrance were among
the Township's leading curlers during the formative years of the sport.
||Site of "Maplehurst", 1899, home of John Neilson, demolished
1995. Had been part of MacDougall and Brown Funeral Chapel (2900 Kingston Road).
John Neilson and his brother, Alexander (lot 14, con. 3), connected their homes by a
private telephone line and later established the Scarborough Independent Telephone Company
||Site of medical practice (ca 1830) of Scarborough's first
resident doctor, Robert Douglas
Hamilton, while living near Bunker's Hill, Danforth
Road, on the property of his brother-in-law, John Torrance, lots 22-24 Concession D.
(Torrance became the Township Reeve in 1854.)
||"The Dutch Churches" formation on the Scarborough
Bluffs. (At Scarborough Bluffs Park at the foot of Scarboro Crescent.)
||Isaac Ashbridge orchard, late 19th c, on the
farm, Lot 26, Concession B, patented by his father, Jonathan Ashbridge, in 1799. (In
Scarborough Bluffs Park at the foot of Scarboro Crescent.)
||Isaac Ashbridge brick farmhouse, ca 1870, Gothic revival style.
||Site of Henry Auburn Tannery, Kingston Road, lot 28 concession B.
||Scarborough Fire Hall No. 1, cornerstone laid by Reeve
Robert McCowan on July 14 1925. (Birchmount Road at Highview)
||The Toronto and York Radial followed the Kingston Road alignment through
Scarborough. The intersection with Courcelette Road was the site of the accidental death
of Elizabeth Bell on June 29, 1919: "... an auto-truck in which she was
riding... was heading from the lake and ran straight into the street car, in charge of
Motorman William McCowan. The truck was hurled into a telegraph pole and overturned, Miss
Bell being thrown upon her head."
Please also refer to Humble Yet Noteworthy Events.