Public Health Oral Histories
Home ] Up ] On the Farm in the '20s ]



Studies: Publications

Educational Resources

Historic Sites in Scarborough Heights

Links for Toronto Links

Scarboro Heights Record

Search This Site

Table of Contents



Bob McCowan was the eldest of 5 children of Harold and Jennie McCowan.  Their home was a huge Queen Anne style farmhouse built in about 1914 on the north side of Kingston Road immediately east of Arby's across the fence from the principal's office of H.A. Halbert Public School.

Primitive First Aid
By Bob McCowan

One Saturday morning when I was about 10 years old, I found out what a potent projectile a fist-sized lump of coal could be.

Back in those days before winter set in, my dad hauled coal for our hot water furnace from the local coal yards with the horses and wagon. With the wagon backed up to the cellar window, he shovelled the coal down a chute into the coal bin. My job on this particular morning was to kneel at the bottom of the chute and shovel the coal to the back of the bin. All of a sudden a lump of coal bounced out of the chute, hurtled through the air and struck me on the top of the head. After rubbing the spot, I noticed that my hand was covered with blood. I couldn't get out through the window because of the chute and I couldn't make my dad hear me yell because of the rattle of the coal in the chute. After a couple of minutes, the noise died down and I got his attention. By this time, I must have looked pretty messy with a mixture of blood and coaldust running down my face because, after I had crawled out, he took me to the well, stuck my head under the spout and pumped water all over it.

With the mess washed off, we went around to the back door of the house and called my mother. She brought a cupful of flour and dumped it on the wound and pressed it down with her hand. It stopped the bleeding all right but by night the "bloody flour" had turned into concrete.

Well, the easy part was done. The hard part was getting the patch off. After a few days, my mother figured the wound was healed enough to remove the patch. I had to kneel with my head in a basin of water for a few minutes and then she went to work on it with a comb. This exercise was repeated over and over again. It was a slow and painful process because my hair was all through the patch and every tug of the comb felt as if my hair was coming by the roots.

It took several days to make me look presentable in spite of my yelling and squirming, but finish we did and a week later the whole thing was forgotten -- until now!

From The Scarboro Heights Record V4 #2