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The terms prehistoric and prehistory are generally taken to refer to things that happened before humankind started to write. This definition is very unfortunate because it suggests that oral traditions of our aboriginal peoples that have survived for centuries can be somewhat discounted -- as either legend or folklore or "prehistoric". Make no mistake, oral history is just as good and valuable as written history and, in many ways, even better.

Humankind has a 10,000 year history in Scarboro Heights as revealed in the  collections of Ashley and Harold McCowan. In fact, the evidence shows that Scarboro Heights is the earliest known location of human occupation in Toronto.  (Associate Professor Bruce Schroeder, University of Toronto, "Evidence for Early Human Presence in Scarborough", Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1989 (V XIII, No. 1).)

Ordinarily, the Canada Trust Gallery in the Toronto Reference Library showcases exhibitions of unique and rare library material -- in other words, rare written and photographic materials. So, for the special Exhibition running at the Gallery from June 28 - September 22, 2002, Toronto, A Place of Meeting: 10,000 Years of Toronto History, the library had to go outside their collections. For prehistoric occupation of Scarborough, the Library came to the James McCowan Memorial Social History Society for assistance.

Here is a record of burials in Scarborough somewhat before the arrival of Europeans. The record was written in about 1896.

Grave in Scarboro

On the farm of Mr. Jonathan Ashbridge, lot 26, concession B, close to the edge of the precipitous lake bank, here two hundred feet high, a grave was discovered in November. In it were the remains of five persons, four of whom had been buried close to each other, and one a short distance from these. The bones of the latter were found in the ground promiscuously, while those of the others were in natural order. The single burial was probably that of one who had died long before the others, and whose remains were removed from their original resting place to lie beside theirs. As some of the bones were not more than a foot below the surface, and none more than two and a half, or three feet, the burials were probably those of Mississaugas, and therefore of comparatively recent date. With the exception of one skull, all the bones were much decayed. Mr. Ashbridge has kindly presented the skull to the Museum.

            Annual Archaeological Report for Ontario, 1896-7, p 46-7

    The Scarboro Heights Record V10 #7