James McCowan, Coalmaster
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The James McCowan Memorial Social History Society is named for James McCowan, a Scottish coalmaster and farmer, who immigrated to Scarborough in 1833 with his wife, Margaret Porteous, and eight children. They settled at the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs along the present Meadowcliff Drive.

We were flattered that the original McCowan Settlement site on Meadowcliffe Drive is one of only 14 "Lost Historic Sites in Toronto" that were selected to be featured on the Toronto Planning Dept. web site at www.city.toronto.on.ca/torontoplan/lost.htm.  In 2002, we received a nice letter from the Chief Planner for the City of Toronto thanking us for our help on the Lost Sites Project.

1833CABN.GIF (3628 bytes)

Illustration by George Duncan

For an "ordinary" Scot born well over two centuries ago, James McCowan's life is surprisingly well-documented in a variety of written sources.  We were very pleased to assist the producers of the BBC Radio Scotland radio series and book, "The Lowland Clearances", both featuring one familyís last few decades in Scotland in the context of socio-economic turmoil. The following list of short articles is a very small sampling of other information that has been prepared, to date, in relation to the life and times of James McCowan.  


James McCowan -- Quick Peaks at His Life and Times

Typhus Fever Physical symptoms of cholera
Death by cholera An epidemic in 1834
Intensely religious A member of the Scots Kirk
Influences around him Inventions in Ayrshire
Personal library An information revolution
Stage Production Based on his life
Input to the Play And why
Sample Proposed Dialog Industrial Revolution
New Mode of Land Management Articles of Lease
Bankruptcy of a Farmer His Inventory of Goods
Capitalist in Training Rise of a Coalmaster
Emigration The value of a connection to Land
Character Determination to succeed in a new land
Winners and Losers? A New Angle on the Lowland Clearances
Dawn of a New Economic Order Entrepreneurism
Bibliography Life and times of James McCowan of Cumnock, Lesmahagow and Scarborough