||The post-glacial Lake Iroquois forms. The
ancient shoreline of Lake Iroquois is marked by the steep hill just north of the present
beach (eg at Midland Ave south of Kingston Road). The only portion of Scarborough that
does not include this hill is in the McCowan Road / Brimley Road area. Thus, in the
nineteenth century, this promonotory into the ancient Lake Iroquois and the highest point on the Scarborough Bluffs became
known as "Scarborough Heights".
||Early archaic camp
near Fenwood Heights. This is very possibly the earliest presently-known site of human
occupation in Toronto. (PBS)
||Sons of Charles Annis
begin squatting near the site of the present Washington Church on lot 16. (AA 28, 45; PS;
||Sarah Ashbridge and
her son, Jonathan, patent 300 acres of lots 26 and 27 beside the bluffs and begin required
improvements shortly afterward (RB 290)
||Kingston Road first
blazed by William Cornell, Levi Annis and others along the front of the Township. A good
portion of the original "Front Road", as it was initially called, was in the
lower area or "flats" below the hill which marks the old Lake Iroquois
shoreline. Danforth Road was sometimes referred to as the "Back Road". (RB 45,
265; DB 114)
plants Scarborough's first orchard on Lot 18 Con. C near the edge of the bluffs. The
130 acre farm was rented from the Cornells by Robert McCowan ca 1845-1855. (RB 45; TR; AS)
||Alex McDonnell sells some of his land holdings
to the squatters -- Lot 16 Conc. C to Levi Annis in December and
Lots 17 and 18 Conc. C to William Cornell in July 1809 (AID)
||British soldiers staying in Levi Annis' house
allegedly bury their money in Gates Gully (DB 41)
||David Annis carried despatches from Farewell's
tavern to Lynde's tavern (AL 1)
||Jonathon Ashbridge "carting the boxes
containing the records and documents of the Surveyor General's Office from the Town of
York into the Country" (ie to a safe place away from the Americans) (RG1)
||Jonathon Gates settles on Lots 19 and 20,
Concession C and later builds an Inn (DB 54; RB 60, 68, 268) near
Stop 22, Kingston Road (TR 27)
||Kingston Road's second alignment, generally to
the north of the first. The contract for improvements went to Joseph Secor. (DB 51, 115;
RB 45, 265)
||William Cornell sets up an early Scarborough
industry, a potash works near Bellamy Road, where the ashes of the huge white pine were
made into soap. Bricks were made on Cornell's farm, Lot 18 Conc.
C, about this time. Henry Auburn had a tannery on Lot 29 Conc. B near Kingston Road. (DB
||Robert Stobo arrives in
Scarborough. Apparently the first from Lanarkshire, he shortly afterward purchased about
600 acres in Lots 21 to 23, Concessions B and C. Prominent in the timber business, Stobo
was a friend of William Proudfoot, President of the Bank of Upper Canada. (NC 11/2/4,
||Upper Canada's system of free
land grants is ended. Practically all of Scarborough is taken up in one way or another
(but not necessarily occupied) by this time. (RB 60)
||John Thom arrives
from Ayrshire and purchases lot 23 Conc. C from Thomas Fleming.
||John Torrance, Scottish
land surveyor, arrives and encourages others in Lanarkshire to emigrate to Scarborough. A
large Scarborough landowner and Reeve for a time, his homestead was at McCowan and
Eglinton. (NC 11/2/4; NC 12/1/3)
||Arrival of Scarborough's first doctor, Robert Douglas Hamilton. He lived for a time with his
brother-in-law, John Torrance. (DB 206,8; RB 119)
||Stephen Washington, a Methodist
lay preacher and founder of Washington Church, settles
on Lot 22 Conc. C. Having sold his land in England, he almost immediately purchased the
northwest 82 acres (east side of McCowan Road) from Robert Stobo in 1830. (AA 49, 28; DB
allegedly builds the first brick house in Scarborough on Lot 24, Conc. B. (TR)
||John Dewar is teaching 23 pupils in what is
probably a log building on Lot 18, Conc. C. (NC 4/4/6)
harvests 1700 bushels of potatoes from a field of less than four acres beside McCowan Road
and sells them for $600 to the army through contract.
||Scarborough's pre-eminent military man, Lieut.
Allan H. McLean, a veteran of the War of 1812 and the First Burmese War, purchases the
south half of Lot 17 Con. D. He is Township Postmaster from 1838 to 1853. (DB 234, 225)
||Scarborough's first Post Office is established
on Lot 19 Con. D in Scarborough Village, with Peter Secor as the postmaster. He was
dismissed in 1838 for his sympathies with William Lyon MacKenzie. (RB 77; DB 224; NC Sept
||Eight year old Janet Rae
watches curlers travel along Kingston Road with their besoms (brooms), marking the
beginning of the long Scarborough association with Curling (RB
(possibly the first in Scarborough) held May 1 on the Robert Stobo farm on Kingston Road.
Managers included The Hon. John Elmsley and W.B. Jarvis from York and local farmers Robert
Stobo, John Torrance, Jonathon Gates and Mr. Cornell. Many of the earliest matches in the
Township were held on farms along Kingston Road -- Cornell's, Muir's, Annis'. (DB 76; FF
||James McCowan, a
bankrupted Lanarkshire coalmaster and farmer, his wife Margaret Porteous, and their 8
children settle on the rather isolated 35 acre "flats" at the bottom of
Meadowcliff Drive by the bluffs (Lot 20, Con. B, C). Their access to Kingston Road was
along a half-mile track through Gates' Gully. James was an experienced contractor in
Scotland. (NC 13/2/25)
||John Muir, schoolteacher, receives a tavern licence (July 3) for his "William Wallace Inn"
near David Annis' house on lot 16. John was the father of Alex Muir,
author of "The Maple Leaf Forever". Alex Muir and Jane McCowan were baptised
together in Lesmahagow Parish Church, Lanarkshire in 1830. (DB
114; RB 103)
||Scarborough's second Doctor, David Graham
(also from Lanarkshire) arrives and boards at Gates Inn. He helped himself to one of
MacKenzie's rebel's horses and was thrown out of the Lawrie house where he was boarding in
1837. Mr. Lawrie was a reformer in politics. (DB 209)
||At their home, Springbank, at the edge of the
Bluffs, James McCowan and his third son, David, both die of cholera
during the night of August 28.
||George Auburn purchases 105 acres of Lot 28,
||James Whiteford McCowan,
James Weir, James and John Gibson and four others defeat Toronto's curlers in the first of
many annual bonspiels between Scarborough and Toronto. The
branch of the Highland Creek just north of Eglinton near Danforth was a favourite spot for
Scarborough's early curlers. (DB 243)
||Edward Cornell, a Poundkeeper, and William
Pherrill, a Constable, were found not guilty of some charge of forcible entry by a Grand
||Rebel leader William Lyon Mackenzie allegedly
takes shelter from the Government forces in Levi Annis' house (AA. 45)
||Kingston Road straightened to its present
alignment (more or less) and planked. (RB 268)
||Under Colonel A. MacLean, Scarborough's loyal
farmers and tradesmen assemble at Gates Tavern and are the first
township militia to arrive in Toronto to disperse the rebels under MacKenzie, Dec. 5 (AA
||Smuggling continues at the mouth of Gates Gully -- local folk not involved!
||First Washington Church built on the Levi Annis farm
||Captain James Gibson's Company of the Scarborough Militia is 50 strong and includes members of the
McCowan, Burton, Neilson, Gibson, Crone, Washington, Thom and Bambridge families.
||William Annis drove stage coach on Kingston
||Toll gates were set up on the Stobo farm (lot
21) and in front of Washington Church (1878 map)
||One month after her 15th birthday,
fatherless Janet Rae marries William Purdie, 31, her
neighbour (as tenants) on the Stobo farm (Dec. 10)
||Second school in the area, built near Gates
tavern east of Bellamy Road (RB 95)
||Levi Annis sells 1 acre to Stephen Washington
and others for £5 (for use as a cemetery for Washington Church)
||Wild beast show and circus at Gates Tavern (DB
||Isaac Ashbridge, son of Jonathan, makes the
Scarborough farm by the bluffs his permanent residence. (AB 106)
||Kingston Road farmers Stephen Washington,
Robert McCowan, George Auburn, Allan McLean, John Stobo, Ed Cornell, Jonathan Gates,
George Bambridge and Barbara Berwick are among the 71 founding members of the Scarborough
Agricultural Society with William Crone as President. The first Scarborough Fair in 1844
was commemorated 150 years later in a musical / drama, A Scarboro Tale,
by Like Magic Productions. (DB 65) (SHR 2/6/8)
||William Porteous McCowan, his mother and sister, Jean, leave the original
McCowan settlement at the foot of the present Meadowcliff Dr. and move to Lot 13 Con. 4,
original site of the McCowan Log House Museum.
||Kingston Road purchased from the Government by
James Beatty. (DB 115; RB 271)
||Robert McCowan purchases approximately 50
acres of Lot 21 Con. D (adjacent to one of the John Torrance farms) from Kings College,
but apparently does not take up residence there, prefering to "flip it" to
Thomas Wilson two years later when he buys on Lot 22, Con. C.
||In April Robert McCowan buys 82 acres from William Crone, Lot 22 Con. C, but prefers to lease the land back to
Thomas Crone for three years at £70 a year.
||First train on Grand
Trunk Railroad through the McCowan farm
||After his house on Lot 18 Con. C burns down,
Robert McCowan moves to his new 80 acre farm adjacent to McCowan Road (Lot 22 Con. C). He
sells 1.6 acres to the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada
for use as the Scarborough Station. (The station was moved here from Scarborough Village
in about 1859 because of the heavy grade coming out of the village.) (DB 224)
||HalfWay House built at Midland Ave. on
Kingston Road (now at Black Creek Pioneer Village)
||Intoxicated labourer James Maxwell was asleep
on the rail crossing at Kingston Road and killed by the night train (July 15) (NC May/82 p
||What seems to be an organized gang of
"notoriously bad characters" rob Kingston Road merchants, farmers and
travellers. (Sept. 1 and Dec 1) (NC 6/2/18)
||Population of Scarborough reaches about 4,800
as the rural Ontario farmer enjoys unsurpassed affluence and political influence. For
almost the next half-century, emigration to southwestern Ontario, Manitoba
and the western territories and the draw of the city result in a general rural
population decline in the Township. (RB 161, 179; BM 212)
||Thomas Wilson disputes Land Surveyor
Passmore's placement of the sideroad allowance between his farm (Lot 23 Con. C) and Robert
McCowan's farm (Lot 22 Con. C)
||Death, probably in childbirth, of Jane
Underwood, 34 year old mother of seven and wife of Robert McCowan (July 17).
||Insufficient toll revenue and loss of traffic
to the Grand Trunk Railway force James Beatty to sell Kingston Road to York County. (RB
||Sixteen year old James
Archibald McCowan and his cousin, Corporal William McCowan, join Lieut. Robert H.
Stobo and Captain W.H. Norris as the Scarborough Volunteer Rifle Company help defend
Canada against the Fenians. (MC 46, PS 37, DB 235)
||"An old man, name unknown" with
"quite a sum of money found in his pocket" commits suicide near the Scarboro
Station of the Grand Trunk at the north end of the McCowan farm. (NC 7/4/15-17)
||Severe thunderstorm in late June -- barn roofs
blown off, miles of fences demolished, 12 large apple trees in an orchard on Kingston Road
were "completely blown to pieces". (NC Feb84 p19)
||People attacked on Kingston Rd by youths at
Lot 21 Con. C between Bellamy and McCowan Roads (NC Sept/79, 16)
||Robert McCowan purchases the south 125 acres
of Lot 20, concessions B and C including the original McCowan
settlement site of 1833.
||Blacksmith, waggon and ploughmaker George
Bambridge sells his shop and 3/4 acre on the south side of Kingston Road at Bellamy to
Robert McCowan. The property was perhaps purchased for the benefit of the eldest son,
James A. McCowan, who was apparently more interested in mechanics than agriculture.
||A Kingston Road Stage Association was formed,
Charles Ley playing an energetic role. (NC Nov/81 p. 15)
||James Archibald McCowan,
railway engine driver, loses his wife, Isabella Bowes, and moves to Portage La Prairie,
Manitoba, to join four McCowan cousins and many other Scarborough folk.
||Isaac Stobo and Robert Callendar shoot a black
bear, possibly the last shot in Scarborough. (Lot 21 Con. B on the cliffs.) (DB 238) There
was a bearskin in the McCowan barn for a time.
||Improvements in agricultural implements march
along. At Arch Muir's very successful sale, "implements went at a reasonable price
but self raking reapers are undoubtedly at a discount in the age of binder." (NC
||Subdivision laid out for the proposed Bellamy
Community at Eglinton and Bellamy north of the tracks. This community was apparently to be
on the Edward Bellamy model, which itself, no doubt, followed the socialist principles of
Robert Owen. There were many such "Owenite" communities around the world.
Scarborough's Bellamy community was squelched by the local ratepayers in 1900. (RB 184)
development fever persists as Robert McCowan, Billie McCowan, John Mason and Alex Muir
arrange for surveys for Plans 1097, 1100, 1104 and 1098
respectively (for parts of Lots 20, 21 and 22 Concessions B and C).
||Alex McCowan and
other Scarborough dairy farmers conceive and establish the milk
marketing movement in Ontario. Their Scarborough association was the first such group
in the Province.
||The general economic optimism of 1890-92 was
followed by a depression -- development of Plans 1100, 1104 and 1098 would have to
wait a half-century. Perhaps the most notable local victim of this depression of 1893-5
was Donald G. Stephenson, one-time Reeve of Scarborough,
Warden of York County and friend of Robert McCowan. (PS 21-22)
||A former doctor who is now an itinerant
wanderer, sometimes sleeping in the McCowan barn, miraculously cures Ruth McCowan's rheumatic fever with an undisclosed potion. (MC 25)
||North Toronto Farmers have a party to
celebrate the abolition of the toll gates (PS 34, 36; NC Feb/82 p. 16, 17, 18; RB 271).
The tollgate on lot 17 on Kingston Road was sold the next year for $17.50
||Jonathan Ashbridge uncovers the remains of
five Mississauga Indians on Lot 26 Conc. B very near the edge
of the Bluffs. (OAR 1896-7, p. 46-7)
||Toronto Railway Company extends the electric radial line to the Half-Way house at Midland. (RB 276)
||Trooper Robert James
Stobo died in South Africa while serving in the Boer War. (Feb. 3) (SHR 2/1/2)
||Scarborough Heights farmers dominate the
Reeve's chair at Scarborough Council for the next quarter century -- Andrew Young 1902-7,
William D. Annis 1908-12, James G. Cornell 1913-9, Robert McCowan
1923-5. ("Reeve" was rather equivalent to "Mayor"). Robert McCowan
would never sign a cheque unless he knew every precise detail.
||Alex McCowan first
elected to represent the East Riding of York at the Provincial Legislature (including
||Radial street-car line extended to West Hill
by the Toronto and York Radial Company. (RB 181, 276)
||Scarborough Heights Park established by the
Toronto and York Radial Company for their customers on the south part of the Stobo farm.
(NC 11/2/10; RB 276)
||"Plebiscite taken on the statute labour
system resulted in a vote largely in favour of doing the roadwork by statute labour."
This was a major election issue as W.D. Annis defeated A. Young for Reeve. (JTS)
||City gentlemen, including Mr. A.E. Rea, owner of a ladieswear factory on Spadina, are purchasing
"hobby farms" and building pretentious country homes along the lakefront. Mr.
Rea reactivated Billie McCowan's Plan 1100 in cooperation with J.W. McNab and Cecil White
-- their plans, too, are decades premature. (NC 11/2/8) (NC 13/2/22,31)
||Ashbridge homestead is sold, the buyers
hopeful to develop it eventually. (AB 110)
||Opening of the new Scarborough Village Public
School, "School Section Number Nine" or
"SS9". (ST 9)
||On the south side of Kingston Road at Brimley,
St. Augustine's Seminary is dedicated to the training of English-speaking clergy (August
28). (RB 201)
||A "regular colony of gypsies",
including 30 children, park their ten covered wagons and pitch eight tents at the north
end of the McCowan farm. (MC 27)
||Wreck of the Alexandria, August 3, off the
foot of Markham Road.
||On land purchased from Robert McCowan, St. Joseph's-On-The-Lake is built to serve as a school and as a
hospital for sisters.
||Four thousand Scarborough residents gather in
Scarborough Heights Park to honour the returned war heroes, August 1.
||Annual Meeting of Scarborough Independent
Telephone Company; proposal by Bell Company to buy the Scarborough Company defeated by 50
to 6; 501 phones on the system.
||Elizabeth Caroline Bell
dies when the auto truck in which she was riding "ran straight into the street car in
charge of Motorman William [Billie] McCowan".
||Stan Chester builds a
general store on his parents' Kingston Road property which had been severed from the
||Investment firm of McLeod, Young, Weir is
co-founded by one of Scarborough's great business success stories, William
Ewart Young, born in 1886 on Lot 22 Con. C. (SHR 2/2/8)
||Laying of the corner stone for Scarborough
High School (later renamed R.H. King) June 29.
||Robert Ashbridge McCowan inducted as an elder
of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (SA 11)
||Scarboro Foreign Mission Society is
moved to Kingston Road at Brimley. It had been founded in Almonte by Fr. John M.
Fraser in 1918.
||Pat, Tom and Vic Burd open Paradise Pavilion
dance hall at the foot of Scarborough Crescent near the bluffs' edge (NC 11/2/10)
||Reeve Robert McCowan lays the cornerstone of
Scarborough's first firehall.
||Cecil White, land
developer, pays for the construction of water main to his land on the west side of McCowan
Road (the former Neilson farm). (NC 13/2/31)
||Refering particularly to the Scarborough
Bluffs, Professor A.P. Coleman wrote to the effect "the history of the last million
years has been more completely recorded in the deposits in the neighbourhood of Toronto
than anywhere else in Canada or perhaps the world". (DJ)
||Toronto Transit Commission closes Scarborough
Heights Park -- the pavilion is moved across the McCowan fields to St. Joseph's convent.
||A Jewish cemetery is established toward the
north end of the McCowan farm.
||Robert McCowan initiates the McCowan Prize for Math and Physics at Scarborough High School.
Continued by his family following his death.
||Death of former Reeve
Robert McCowan on Jan. 16. His two sons, Ashley and Harold, carry on the farm -- they
were among the first in Scarborough to use artificial fertilizer.
||Stan Chester rents
out his big brick house and sleeps in a tent to save money during the depression.
||"Hardly a week would go by that we didn't
have a 'tramp', as they were called, at the door for food. Mom always fed them. Sometimes
they would sleep in the barn -- after handing over their matches and smokes. Dad would
return them in the morning." (Helen Annis McCowan)
||Mike O'Brien, an
unemployed sailor, builds a log cabin in the McCowan bush -- and stays almost seven years.
||The end of an era in public transit through
Scarborough as the Radial line is removed from Kingston Road. The auto becomes king in the
realm of travel as Kingston Road is widened to 4 lanes. Cuts were made to reduce some
hills. (RB 277; KR)
||Local lads begin to join the services
including Bob, Jack, Walter and Bill McCowan.
||The dormant subdivision on the west side of
McCowan Road is taken over by the federal government and, finally, developed and sold
under the Veteran's Land Act. (Known as the Gordonvale
Subdivision at this time.)
||Plans are filed by Harold and Ashley McCowan
for the development of their farm on the east side of McCowan Road between Kingston and
Eglinton. They are among the Township's last "farmer-developers" as the
professional real estate developer begins to dominate land-use change.
||Scarborough Heights Boulevard is named, thus
commemorating the highest point on the Bluffs and the site of the old geodetic survey tower.
||Local ratepayers refuse to accept a
"drive-in theatre" on the McCowan farm
||H.A. Halbert Public
School officially opened (June 19)
||Cliffcrest United Church dedicated (May 1)
||Robert Purdie McCowan inducted as an elder of
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
officially named "McCowan Road" by Scarborough Council
drive-in restaurant built between the farmhouses of W. McCowan and R.A. McCowan. One of
Tim Hortons original drive-ins took over the building a few years later. Tim came
into the W. McCowan home one day to apologize for the litter situation.
||Half-Way House moved from Midland Ave. to
Black Creek Pioneer Village
||Bill McCowan enters numerous
"floats" in the H.A. Halbert Public School Centennial
Parade -- buggy, 19th century wagon, 1939 Ford tractor, 4-seater bicycle and 1937 Dodge.
||William McCowan family moves from the Harold
McCowan farmhouse at 3100 Kingston Road to Pickering Township. Jim
McCowan's Remarc vending machine business becomes sole tenant of the 3 storey
||Jennie McCowan is
made an Honourary President of the Scarborough Historical Society. The huge
farmhouse in which she raised five children is demolished.
||Proposals to turn the original part of R.H.
King, including the auditorium, into a community and cultural centre are apparently
ignored and the educational landmark is demolished, save the entrance arch.
||Engineering study proposes works to mitigate
erosion in "Gates Gully", now more commonly known as the
||Demolition of Robert McCowan House Kingston
Road at McCowan Road beside Cliffcrest Church.
||Robert McCowan Memorial
Scholarship at R.H. King High School is reinstituted by some of his descendants,
following a short hiatus.
long-time area resident, named to the Order of Canada
||Inauguration of R.H. King Academy, May 8
||The Royal Commission on the Future of the
Toronto Waterfront recommended in their report, Regeneration
-- "...encourage continued development of a waterfront trail, including a two-tiered
trail in Scarborough... one route above the bluffs and one at their base..."
||Bea McCowan conducts a survey in the
subdivisions of the old McCowan farm regarding another mural for a Kingston Road building.
Out of 50 responses, 54% preferred an Indian village; 32% a ploughing match; 12% a curling
match; and 2% layman Stephen Washington preaching to fellow Methodists.
||Launch of the "Kingston
Road Study" by Scarborough Council covering the stretch from Brimley to
Livingston. (SHR 2/3/1)
Tree Hunt. Bea McCowan nominated the several apple trees that remain of the mid-late
nineteenth century orchard of Isaac Ashbridge beside the bluffs on Lot 26 Con B. (SHR
||City of Scarborough BiCentennial celebrations
including "Scottish Heritage Days in the City of Scarborough", July 5-7. Like
Magic Productions presented With I Hope a New Face -- The Story of a Newcomer to a New
Land. This was the true story of the tragic life and entrepreneurial ideals of James McCowan who settled at the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs in
1833. (CC 4/2/2)
||The City of Scarborough no longer exists as a municipal entity as it has just been amalgamated into Toronto.
||Doris McCarthy donates her property to the Ontario Heritage Foundation for
future use as an art studio.
||Demolition of the 1913 Scarborough Village
||Creation of the Doris McCarthy Trail down Gates Gully
||Publication of Neigh
the Front -- Exploring Scarboro Heights
||Publication of "A Glimpse of
Toronto's History -- Opportunities for the Commemoration of Lost
Historic Sites" (including several Scarborough submissions by the
||The McCowan Society exhibits the earliest
evidence of human occupation in Toronto at the Exhibition, "10,000 Years of Toronto History" at the Toronto
firehall, on Birchmount Road, is one step closer to becoming a museum -- a
recommendation went to Toronto's Administrative Committee.
interviews descendants of Scarborough pioneer families for their three-part radio series
"The Lowland Clearances".
Publication of their follow-up book, with sub-title "Scotland's Silent Revolution",
puts Scarborough's historical development clearly on the world stage.