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Men of Steadying Influence
... In Public Life

The Bailie: Men You Know

The vacancy in the municipal representation of Park Ward will be filled at the forthcoming meeting of the Town Council, and it is a foregone conclusion that the choice of the Corporation will be Mr. David McCowan, the well-known marine insurance broker and underwriter, who has been unanimously nominated by the Ward Committee. There is general satisfaction that Mr. McCowan has consented to come forward, for in these days of strange uncertainty in the drift and flow of legislative and administrative theory and practice, affecting local as well as national politics, we need men of steadying influence to be willing more and more to take their place in public life. Before the War it was becoming too much a habit for men competent to bear their share in the arena of local politics, to hold off. For reasons that seemed good to them, but mistakenly, in the Bailie's judgement, they fought shy of the buffeting and publicity that are the reward of earnest and devoted service in the representation of their fellow citizens. But a new era is dawning. In the best quarters we have evidence of a quickening sense of the greater responsibility of public service, and we are glad to welcome Mr. McCowan to George Square as bringing those qualities of discernment, force, and dignity which will strengthen the deliberations of the Council Chamber.

The Man You Know is senior partner of the celebrated firm of Messrs. William Euing & Company, marine insurance brokers and underwriters, Royal Exchange, a firm whose history of over a hundred years is notable for the part it has played in upbuilding the whole fabric of the marine mercantile enterprise of the country, and also for the men of conspicuous ability who have been associated with it. The founder was William Euing, a highly esteemed citizen ...

The late Mr. David McCowan, LL.D., uncle of the present "Man You Know," was the controlling head of the business for many years. In him Glagow had a munificent benefactor and a singularly fine type of citizen. For many years Mr. McCowan filled the office of Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Infirmary, and that institution, as well as many others in the city, had in him a large-hearted friend and helper. Another distinguished member of the firm was John Guthrie Smith, Lord Dean of Guild.

This is the tradition to which the Man you Know has succeeded, and it is common knowledge that Mr. David McCowan and his wife have been among the best friends to many a movement that has called for the unstinted liberality and loyal enthusiasm of the patriotic citizens of Glasgow. Mr. McCowan is an Ayrshire man, with a Dumfriesshire strain on the maternal side. He comes of a big race, a man of splendid athletic build, and he will bring a new record to the Town Council of Glasgow. The Bailie believes he is correct in saying that Mr. McCowan, if elected to the Council, will be the first municipal representative of St. Mungo who has had the honour of representing Scotland in Rugby Internationals. This takes us back to 1878 when young McCowan, the stalwart bustling forward of the West of Scotland Club was capped against England. Five times he represented Scotland in the years from 1878 to 1883. He was also a keen Volunteer, and and for fifteen years was in the old 4th Lanark (subsequently the 8th Scottish Rifles), retiring with the rank of Major. Both his sons saw service on sterner fields with their father's old regiment, the 8th Scottish Rifles, the elder by making the great sacrifice in Galipoli, and the second son being now attached to the Royal Air Force.

Mr. McCowan has found time for many activities outside the immediate interests of his firm. He is a Vice President of the Incorporated Glasgow Old Men's and Old Women's Home in Rottenrow; a Director of the Merchants' House; a Director of the Savings Bank; and a Director of the Glasgow Sailor's Home in the Broomielaw, of which the late Wm. Euing was first president. As Honorary Treasurer of the Erskine House Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers, Mr. McCowan has done much to promote the success of one of the most useful institutions in the country. He is also a Director of the Clydesdale Bank, and a member of the Royal Company of Archers.  He is a past chairman of the Glasgow Association of Underwriters and Insurance Brokers, which attained its centenary last year, but owing to the War, the members forbore from any public celebration of that interesting occasion. He is also a past President of the Glasgow Ayrshire Society.

No biographical sketch of the Man You Know would be complete without something more than a passing reference to the work of Mrs. McCowan, who has been so prominently identified with social and charitable movements in the city. That lady is the eldest daughter of the late Mr. David S. Cargill, a worthy citizen of Glasgow, and the founder of the Burmah Oil Company. Her record of public service at this time will be worthy of a leading place in the archives of these momentous days in which we are living. Since the beginning of the War she has taken a close interest in the work on behalf of the wounded at Stobhill, where she has been the means of doing much for the comfort and recreation of the soldiers. Like her husband, she is keenly interested in Erskine House, and takes an active part in matters relating to the welfare of the Hosiptal. Mrs. McCowan is at present taking a deep interest in the establishment of a Nurses Club, in Glasgow. This movement, with Lady Ailsa as President, and Mrs. J.W. Stewart as Vice-President, will meet a much felt want in the city, and premises have been acquired in Bath Street. She is also one of the most active workers of the Queen Mary Needle Work Guild, which is the means of sending comforts...  Miss McCowan, their only dauther, who is a V.A.D, began her work at the Royal Infirmary in 1914, and has spent the last two years as a nurse "somewhere in France".

The Bailie offers the right hand of fellowship in a public capacity to Mr. David McCowan, whose proved ability in business affairs, and whose hearty, breezy manner will grace and brighten the Civic Chamber.

    A page in the John McCowan Hill scrapbook, Cumnock, private collection

The Scarboro Heights Record V12 #2
The McCowans' Who's Who Vol. 6



Dealing with public bureaucracies is not always a matter of what, but sometimes a matter of knowing with whom to negotiate. I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your letter to Mr. Lorne Ross, Commissioner of Planning and Buildings for the City of Scarborough for discussion and information of the planning committee...

Letter, Councillor Frank Faubert, Scarborough Ward 8,
Feb. 28 1994 to Bea McCowan

Your Right -- and Obligation -- to Vote

Your right to vote under the Parliamentary system was won -- with great sacrifice -- by your forebears. The major issues that you must consider at the poll on October 25 1993 are strikingly similar to the predominant concerns of those "first-time voters" in the last century: poverty, excessive taxation, social assistance and unemployment. While some of the details and "numbers" are new, the basic elements of the problems have remained the same. That is, fundamentally: "how do we most fairly distribute limited economic resources amongst the growing population -- and whom do we most trust to do the job responsibly?"

After centuries of oppression, the first-time voters in the nineteenth century had finally won some measure of respect from the upper classes. As champions of their cause, they enthusiastically cast their first ballot with pride and dignity. You owe it to your forebears to vote with pride, dignity and purpose.

Please vote on October 25, 1993.

From The Scarboro Heights Record V1 #3