Melville Presbyterian Church
Congratulations to the members of Melville Presbyterian Church who are celebrating the 150th Anniversary of their congregation in 2002. Here are a few notes about two early members of Melville.
The key founder of Melville Church was William Young, a native of Scotland. The driving force behind the fundraising effort, Mr. Young was also one of the two carpenters on the building project. He was an elder from 1853 until 1871 and was also a teacher in the Sabbath School.
Mr. Young retired in 1869 when he sold his 60 acre farm on Lot 13, Concession 1 (Lawrence Ave.) to William Porteous McCowan. Mr. Young died in 1899 at the age of 90, but, oddly, was buried in Knox churchyard. His wife, Margaret Kirkwood, had pre-deceased him.
Another character in Melville's past was their daughter, Susan Young, 1842-1920. Her portrait is included in a short history of Melville presumably because she assisted substantially with the 1902 church Jubilee. Susan was one of only seven Melville members who voted against the introduction of instrumental music in 1874. Twenty seven were in favour and 77 abstained from the vote. While on the subject of "abstaining", there is a story that a woman who lived in the McCowan cabin made good wine... Now, did she or didn't she?... drink it too I mean!
Well, guess who spent over forty years as housekeeper to William P. McCowan on his homestead north of Finch off Staines? Mr. McCowan attended St. Andrew's Presbyterian, so his housekeeper -- Susan Young -- was driven to Melville Church in the opposite direction by the Crawfords, their immediate neighbours on the west.
William McCowan and Susan Young had an interesting relationship. Susan was a very talkative woman -- and William had a tendency to ignore her almost continuous chatter. "Unless you cut more wood and Jane slipped yesterday in the milkhouse spilling the pail I've got some sewing to do for the ladies you and what's his name out there in the barn wasting his time with that lame horse won't get any dinner today." Sure enough, at noon, William and what's his name, the hired man, found a deserted kitchen, a cold stove and a bare table. That afternoon, they split and piled the wood.
William and Susan evidently got along well enough, since one of the stories is that William proposed marriage to her. She did not accept and neither of them ever did marry. Nonetheless, William was grateful for her many years of faithful service in his household:
In his will, William also left Susan an annuity of sixty dollars per annum during her lifetime. Her sisters, Mary Fisher and Christena Waite, were to receive fifty dollars each "for their kindly care of my mother during her last illness".
The Scarboro Heights Record V10 #6