Potential Inputs
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Scarboro Heights Record

The Lowland Clearances

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Scottish Diaspora Tapestry


Inputs and Resources -- Context and Evidence

This page is an on-line supplement to Neigh The Front- Exploring Scarboro Heights.

A "Bibliography" is normally at the end of a book. However, an important point of Neigh The Front - Exploring Scarboro Heights is to provide students with input information. The students will select the input information that most interests them, then review and analyze the information and finally reorganize it in their own words. So, we really need to discuss our "resources" at the beginning of this booklet -- not at the end.

Not all of your potential input information will be given to you in detail right in this book. The inputs that we want you to at least know about are listed either in this section or on www.scarboroughrecord.com at the "Educational Resource" page. We bring this list of resources to your attention at the beginning of this book just so that you know exactly what inputs are available before diving into your projects.

When you investigate a problem or issue, you have a lot to think about. For example, what are the facts concerning the specific problem? In otherwords, you need to see the actual evidence. After someone has given you all of the available evidence and after you have read it over, you may say "But I still don’t even really know what the problem is". To understand the problem or the issue, you may need additional information that puts your evidence into context. That is, you may need to "see the big picture" to see the problem.

For example, consider this statement (a piece of evidence): "We have to try hard to make the unemployment rate 15%". Without knowing the context in which this statement was made, we are likely to think that this person is crazy for wanting the unemployment rate to double. But by understanding the context -- the Great Depression of the 1930s -- we can then appreciate why an unemployment rate of 15% was something to try to achieve. In general, we can say that information may be either "general" (contextual) or "local" (more specific).

Keep in mind too that, sometimes, the original evidence may be somewhat "deficient". You should ask "Did the person who wrote this have his facts straight? What important information could he or she have missed? Did he or she have a particular opinion or bias on the matter?" It’s your job to determine the admissibility of this bit of evidence. If the evidence is admissible, then you interpret it accordingly.

The information that we are printing directly in Neigh the Front (a small portion of which is on this web site) generally has the following "local" character:

  • The information relates geographically, more or less, to the McCowan farm in Scarborough upon which H.A. Halbert Junior Public School was built in 1951
  • This 200 acre farm included parts of Lot 22, Concessions B and C on the east side of McCowan Road between Lake Ontario and Eglinton Avenue
  • The McCowan family farmed here for almost one hundred years up to 1950
  • Development of the subdivision began in about 1950

The information sources that we are listing here (in no particular order) relates in slightly more general, community-oriented, ways to:

  • Scarboro Heights (roughly that part of the Scarborough Bluffs between Midland Avenue and Markham Road)
  • The families who settled in this area and the values that they brought from their native countries

Also listed in this section are the standard Scarborough reference sources. These provide a broader regional context -- that is, the Township of Scarborough, now part of Toronto. Of course, as in any engineering problem (or in any other problem for that matter), when there is uncertainty, you should obtain more data. In otherwords, go to the local library for further information that is relevant to your project.

There is also this information that is more specific to James McCowan's career -- James McCowan Bibliography.

www.scarboroughrecord.com: The Web site of The Scarboro Heights Record

  • community information and local history

Refer also to these Pages
James McCowan of Scarborough
for more "Inputs" to your research project

Some key pages are shown in the following table, but please note that each page has an address of the form: http://www.mccowan.org/scarboro.htm

Page Address

Subject of Page

mccowan.org Home Page of the Site Sponsor, Bea McCowan
mccowan.org/scarboro.htm Scarboro Heights Record
mccowan.org/james.htm James McCowan Memorial Social History Society
mccowan.org/tableof.htm Table of Contents
mccowan.org/search.htm Site Search Tool
mccowan.org/subject.htm Site Subject Index and Educational Resource
mccowan.org/potentia.htm Potential Inputs: Bibliography and Resources for Scarborough
mccowan.org/upper.htm Potential Inputs: Bibliography and Resources for Upper Canada and Ontario
mccowan.org/lowland.htm Potential Inputs: Bibliography and Resources for Lowland Scotland
mccowan.org/james4.htm Potential Inputs: Bibliography and Resources for James McCowan of Scarborough
mccowan.org/informat.htm Information Processing: Analysis and Interpretation
mccowan.org/output.htm Outputting "Better" Information: Some Rules of Writing
mccowan.org/latest.htm New this Month: Most Recent Issues
mccowan.org/historic.htm List of Historic Sites
mccowan.org/notable.htm Chronological List of Noteworthy Events
mccowan.org/publicat.htm McCowan Society Publications
mccowan.org/oral.htm Conducting Oral History Interviews
mccowan.org/communit.htm Community
mccowan.org/culture.htm Culture: Recreation, Arts, Worship, Family
mccowan.org/economic.htm Economics: Transportation, Work, Depression, Housing, Food Supply, Agriculture
mccowan.org/schools.htm Education and Schools
mccowan.org/floraand.htm Flora and Fauna: Environment, Natural Features, Scarborough Bluffs
mccowan.org/halbert.htm H.A. Halbert Junior Public School
mccowan.org/immigrat1.htm Immigration
mccowan.org/services.htm Public Service: Social Institutions, Public Health, Politics, Volunteerism, War
mccowan.org/people.htm Biographies


Janet T.P. McCowan, Stories of a Forgotten Part of the Front Road, a paper presented to the Scarborough Historical Society in 1977

  • Oral history and other accounts of Kingston Road between Midland Avenue and Markham Road.

D.B. McCowan, A Lakefront Estate Residential Development, 1890-1940, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1989 (Vol. XIII, No. 2).

  • James and Margaret Porteous McCowan arrived in 1833 from Scotland, probably the first white settlers on the broken front of Lot 20, Concession B-C, below the Lake Iroquois shoreline ("the flats")
  • Surviving portion of the road down to the original McCowan settlement
  • Repeated attempts to subdivide the farm beginning with the 1891 Plan 1100 of William McCowan (1862-1921) set against the more regional economic context
  • Doris McCarthy's "Fool's Paradise"

D.B. McCowan, The McCowans of Scarborough, Supplement to Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1983

  • James McCowan, Coalmaster at Auchanbeg, Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire and his financial difficulties
  • Emigration to "Springbank", Scarborough in 1833 (Lot 20, Con B-C, south end)
  • James and his third son, David, both die of "The Cholera" on Aug 28, 1834
  • Three surviving sons,  Robert, James W. and William P., are tenant farmers in south central Scarborough for over 15 years
  • Description of "Springbank", the original McCowan settlement on the "Flats" below the Lake Iroquois Shoreline at the point where Bellamy Road would strike Lake Ontario (lot 20, Con B-C)
  • William P. McCowan (James' fourth son) tenants the original settlement until 1848.
  • The three McCowan brothers, William P., Robert and James W. purchased their first farms in 1848, 1851 and 1855 respectively.
  • Robert McCowan (James' eldest son) purchases part of Lot 22 Concession C in 1853
  • Robert McCowan purchases the original settlement as part of the 125 acre farm (Lot 20) in 1876.
  • The small corner of the Gates farm (lot 19) on the west side of Gates Gully is still being rented in 1880 by the McCowans (as it was in 1842). (Part of this small corner was recently donated to the Ontario Heritage Foundation by Ms. Doris McCarthy)

Margaret Carr, James McCowan Family from 1833, 1993

  • Oral histories of the McCowan farm, Lot 22, Concessions B-C
  • Letters by Ruth McCowan
  • Fenian Raids

D.B. McCowan, John Torrance of Lanarkshire, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, November, 1987.

  • John Torrance, land surveyor, local politician, large landowner and close friend of the McCowans, was owner of Lot 20 Con.B-C from 1837 until his death in 1871.
  • He was William McCowan's landlord for the first decade of that period.

D.B. McCowan, A Man and His Home: William Porteous McCowan, 1820-1902, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1988.

  • Early life and education in Scotland
  • Industrial career of his father, James McCowan, in Scotland
  • Very ill with cholera, 1834, Scarborough
  • Tenant on Lot 20 Con. B-C until 1848
  • Successful landowner in northeast Scarborough, Lot 13 Con 4, and several other farms (350 acres total)
  • Personality and lifestyle
  • Architectural discussion of his log house on Lot 13, Con 4 (log house became a museum in Thomson Memorial Park in 1974)
  • Furnishings
  • Member of Captain Gibson's Company of the Scarborough Militia
  • Conservative in politics
  • Personal libraries of James McCowan and William P. McCowan

George W.J. Duncan, Re-Creating the Circa 1855 Home of William P. McCowan, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1988.

  • The McCowan log house from Lot 13, Concession 4, which is now a museum in Thomson Memorial Park.

Extracts from the Letters of Ruth McCowan and John Heron, 1916-1919, in "The James McCowan Family from 1833" and Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, Vol. 13, No. 1. Transcribed and edited by Margaret Heron Carr.

  • Ruth’s letters were written from the McCowan farm, Lot 22, Concession C

D.B. McCowan, The Successful Teacher, 1830-1988, Scarborough Historical Society, 1988.

  • Educating the children of Scarboro Heights
  • John Muir, father of Alex Muir, the author of "The Maple Leaf Forever" immigrated to Scarborough on the same ship as the McCowans. The Muirs and McCowans lived about a mile apart in both Lesmahagow and again in Scarborough. John Muir probably taught the McCowan children at Skellyhill school in Scotland and again in Scarborough. Alex Muir and Jean McCowan were baptised together in Lesmahagow on April 17 1830.

D.B. McCowan, Fairs and Frolics: Scottish Communities at Work and Play, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 1993.

  • From the Preface by Dr. Jean Burnet, York University: "McCowan examines the cooperative work and the boisterous festivities of rural lowland Scots. He provides rich detail about their lives in eighteenth and nineteenth century Scotland and in nineteenth and early twentieth century southern Ontario, especially Scarborough."

D.B. McCowan, Neigh the Front: Exploring Scarboro Heights, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 2001.

D.B. McCowan, To Sustene the Personis: The Agricultural Revolution, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 1994.

  • The evolution of the values of the McCowan family in Scotland, 1600-1800.
  • From the Concluding Remarks: "James McCowan, the coalminer turned Coalmaster, was one of those energetic -- but unrecognized -- Scottish entrepreneurs who ushered in a new economic era. The agriculturally-based subsistence economy that had lasted for several thousand years was to be rapidly superseded by a market-driven economy fueled by the great resources, coal and iron -- and by ordinary people like James McCowan."
  • From the Afterword by Victor Sztainbok, Vice President, Canadian Operations, International Approval Services: "To Sustene the Personis is a study of family history. In this work, the author takes us back to the early seventeenth century. Using the events surrounding the lives of the McCowans of Cumnock Parish, he uses the thread of continuity of that family's accounts to describe the changes in the economic infrastructure and the relationships between the people and the land in this ancestral agricultural society. We travel from the late feudal organization of the production of the land through the changes of the agricultural revolution to the industrial revolution and the particular way in which it took place in Scotland. This voyage is illustrated by reference to the life and tribulations of real people, their failures and success, and the legacy of entrepreneurial ideals they brought to the new world..."

D.B. McCowan, When the Ground Fails: An Economic Watershed, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 1996.

  • Evolution of the values of emigrants from Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire. (James and Margaret McCowan brought their eight children from Lesmahagow to the Scarborough lakefront in 1833.)
  • "When the Ground Fails chronicles the resilience of the Scottish working class as they move from the land to the towns and cities and later evolve to take leading roles in Scottish business and culture. Mr. McCowan has given us a valuable insight into the history of those Scots who later made Scarborough their home." (Bruce Elliott, President, Scarborough Southwest PC Association)
  • From the Concluding Remarks: "Suffice it to say here that government-assisted emigration from Lesmahagow to Canada began in earnest in 1820 through the Lesmahagow Emigration Society. Of particular interest to us, however, are the later independent unassisted emigrants to Scarborough, most of whom succeeded modestly, and many tremendously, in their new home. This, in spite of the fact that practically all of the land in Scarborough had already been taken up, much of it by friends of the government and the Clergy -- the age of free land grants had ended by this time... Even with the deck clearly stacked against them, most of the Lanarkshire emigrants to Scarborough, 1825-1850, succeeded where they could not in Scotland -- they eventually became landowners and masters of their own destiny... For their successes in Canada, these immigrant Scots owed their thanks to their parents and grandparents in Lanarkshire. Those hardy folk had developed and nurtured a healthy value system during the turmoil of the agricultural revolution. They had crossed a profound -- and very difficult -- economic watershed."

James McCowan papers & library: D.A. McCowan, G. McCowan and J. McLean Collections including:

  • Articles of Lease of the Farms on the Estate of Stockbriggs, ca 1830
  • Petition for the Sequestration of James McCowan, Feb. 11 1831
  • Inventory of James McCowan's property, Feb. 11 1831
  • Letter by James McCowan, Springbank, Scarborough, Aug. 20 1834 (includes account of cholera in the household)
  • James McCowan's account book, 1817-1831
  • Various letters from friends and relatives including David McCowan, stonemason in Trinidad
  • Personal libraries of James McCowan and William P. McCowan

D.B. McCowan, St. Andrew's 150 Years Ago, 1988

  • Scots and their religion
  • Scottish wedding ceremonies
  • The pious character of James McCowan

D.B. McCowan, Coalmining at Auchanbeg, Lesmahagow, 1700-1922, The Scottish Genealogist, March, 1990.

  • James McCowan was Coalmaster of the Auchanbeg Coalworks in Scotland from 1799 until the end of his lease in 1818.

D.B. McCowan, Draft Paper, How the Works is Going: A Preview of the Physical Remains at Auchanbeg, Lesmahagow, In Advance of the Dalquhandy Opencast, 1989. October, 1989.

D.B. McCowan, The Raes in Bosanquet, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, (Vol. 7, No. 3).

  • Tenants on Kingston Road at McCowan Road and religious books

D.B. McCowan, The Purdies of the Fieldstone House, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, (Vol. 7, No. 3).

  • Tenants on Kingston Road at McCowan Road

D.B. McCowan, The McCowans' Who's Who for Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Two, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 1992.

  • Oral histories by descendants of Harold McCowan and Jennie Purdie of living on the McCowan land (Lot 22, Conc. C)

The Bill and Nancy McCowan Fortieth Anniversary Album, 1992

  • Oral histories: the McCowans at 3100 Kingston Road, Scarborough

Muriel Morrison: The Bellamy Bluff in the Forties, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1989 (V XIII, No. 2).

  • Oral history of a portion of Lot 20, Concessions B-C, overlooking Lake Ontario.

Valerie Alexander, Impressions of Our Past Population, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments (Vol. 13 #1)

  • Cemetery Studies, including St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

Scottish Record Office

  • Numerous collections relating to the sequestration (bankruptcy) of Stockbriggs Estate and other litigation involving James McCowan.

Associate Professor Bruce Schroeder, University of Toronto, Evidence for Early Human Presence in Scarborough, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1989 (Vol. XIII, No. 1).

  • The McCowan Collection of points includes evidence suggesting that the McCowan-Bellamy Road lakefront area may be the earliest known site of human occupation in Toronto.

D.B. McCowan and Lawrence Westlake, Script for the stage production, With I Hope a New Face: The Story of a Newcomer to a New Land, July 5 1996, A Scarborough Bi-Centennial Event, Like Magic Productions.

  • The true story of James and Margaret McCowan and their entrepreneurial ideals.

George Walton, Home District Directory, 1837

  • Robert McCowan (James' eldest son) is listed on lot 20, Conc. C.

Brown's Home District Directory 1846-7

  • William P. McCowan (James fourth son) is listed on Lot 19, Conc. B. (ref the Gates - McCowan lease)
  • James W. McCowan (second son) is on Lot 24, Concession D
  • Robert McCowan is on Lot 17, Concession C

County of York Directory, 1850-51

  • William P. McCowan (James fourth son) is on Lot 13, Concession 4
  • James W. McCowan (second son) is on Lot 23, Concession D
  • Robert McCowan (eldest son) is on Lot 18, Concession C

Will of Robert McCowan, 1886

  • He left part of Lot 20 Concessions B-C to his youngest son, William
  • He left part of Lot 22 Concession C, his "homestead", to his second son, Robert
  • The above bequests were subject to certain legacies to his four daughters and eldest son
  • He left a 3/4 acre parcel with buildings on Lot 21, Concession C, to his eldest son, James Archibald

Miles 1878 Map of Scarborough

  • Shows two dwellings and an orchard on the flats below the Lake Iroquois shoreline on lot 20, Con B-C. The two dwellings were probably built in 1833 (upon the McCowans' arrival) and in 1840 (marriage of James' second son, James W. McCowan). Robert McCowan had purchased this 125 acre farm including the original McCowan settlement from the heirs of John Torrance in 1876.

Ontario Directory and Map Co., Map of Scarborough, 1910

  • Shows reference to Plan 1100, Lot 20, Concessions B-C and Plan 1097 at the north end of Lot 22, Concession C

Lease, Jonathon Gates to William P. McCowan, Dec. 15 1842, southwest corner of lot 19, Con B and C

  • On the west side of Gates Gully and, hence, physically isolated from the bulk of Gates' farm on the east side
  • This small parcel was farmed by the McCowans in connection with their adjacent holding on lot 20

Scarborough Militia Muster Roll, June 4 1838: Captain Gibson's Company

  • Robert McCowan and William P. McCowan are listed. Both were conservative in politics.

A. Chadwick, N. McCowan, D.B. McCowan, The Scots Kirk: An Oral History of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Scarborough

  • attended by the McCowan family from 1833 to the present day

Doris McCarthy, A Fool in Paradise: An Artist's Early Life. Macfarlane, Walter and Ross, Toronto, 1990.

  • Meadowcliff Drive area

D.B. McCowan, Immigration from Lanarkshire and Dumfriesshire, 1797-1850, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1988.

D.B. McCowan, Curling: A Scottish Sport in Scarborough, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 1996.

D.B. McCowan, Early Curling in Scarborough, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1989 (Vol. XIII, No. 1).

D.B. McCowan, Editor, Learning for Life, Striving for Excellence: An Anthology to Commemorate the Opening of Kennedy Public School, With Special Contributions from the Marquess of Ailsa, 1988.

Miscellaneous receipts, 19th century, Robert McCowan

Aerial photograph. June, 1939. National Air Photo library, Energy Mines and Resources, Canada.

"Plan of Subdivision of Plan 1100 being a Subdivision of Pt. Lot 20 Con. B & C...Township of Scarboro", 1891, William McCowan (1862-1921), third son of Robert McCowan

Lakeview Women’s Institute Tweedsmuir History Collection (assembled by the late Janet T.P. McCowan)

Collections and scrapbooks of the late Janet T. P. McCowan

Obituary of James Whiteford McCowan, 1814-1897

Janet T. P. McCowan, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 1975

Levi Annis, Annis Annals, 1931

Diary of Alexander McCowan, 1892

Diary of Rev. William Proudfoot, Transactions of the London and Middlesex Historical Society, Part VI 1915

Bank of Montreal, Branch Extension Surveys of Greater Toronto and Adjoining Municipalities, 1952

Archives of the Scarborough Board of Education and the Scarborough Historical Society including Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments

Local History Collection, Scarborough Public Library

David Boyle Collection, Ontario Archives

Applications for Grant of Land, Fenian Raid, Ontario Archives, RG1 C-VII-2

D. Boyle, History of Scarboro, 1796-1896, 1896

R.R. Bonis, A History of Scarborough, 1965

E.H. Clarke, A History of the Toronto Milk Producers’ Association, 1900-1966, 1966

B. Myrvold, The People of Scarborough, 1997

R. Schofield, M. Schofield and K. Whynot, Scarborough Then and Now, 1996


Oral History

Those who have provided oral history testimony are almost too numerous to mention. Nonetheless, the following people have since passed on and we now list their names with our thanks.

Dave Thomson, Walter McCowan, Blake Weir, Ches Weir, Neil Weir, Jack Weir, Don Pearson, Ruth Heron, Jack Heron, Marg Carr, Harold Weir, Clark Secor, Jennie McCowan, Clark Young, Jean Young, David A. McCowan, Jenny Stubbington, Bessie Lawrie, Harold Lawrie, Bill Ormerod, Arnold Thomson, Jean Ormerod Thomson, Jim Stirling,.



So, once you select the subject that you wish to investigate, it’s up to you to find and examine the potential inputs for your project. We have printed some of your potential inputs in Neigh the Front -- Exploring Scarboro Heights. Many others may be obtained through your local library. In summary, these resources are what you "need" to perform your task (the "Apparatus" in your science experiments).


Individual Exercises

1) Refer to the "Concluding Remarks" paragraph that relates to When the Ground Fails above. Summarize this paragraph in about 50 words.

2) Refer to the bullet points that relate to The McCowans of Scarborough above. Rewrite these bullet points into your own 150 word story.

3) Pick out three sources from the above "Potential Inputs" list that you think will be of interest to you in a project. In about 50 words, explain what links these three sources together into a single issue.

4) Identify two things that you hope you can learn from these three sources.

5) In about 50 words explain how you would approach a writing project using these sources.

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