Public Service
Home ] Up ] Public Health ] Politics ] Social Institutions ] Volunteerism ] War ] Philanthropy ] Law and Order ] Learning Unit: Public Service ]



Studies: Publications

Educational Resources

Historic Sites in Scarborough Heights

Links for Toronto Links

Scarboro Heights Record

Search This Site

Table of Contents



Please follow the above links to access articles from my newsletter, The Scarboro Heights Record, and the publications of the James McCowan Memorial Social History Society.

I will continue to add pages relating to public service, so please check back often.


Some Stories and Information Relating to
Public Service, Leadership, Civic Duty and Democracy

As Published in
Neigh the Front -- Exploring Scarboro Heights
Rebellion of 1837 The Scarborough Loyalists
Robert McCowan, 1855-1931 Reeve and School Benefactor
James Archibald McCowan, 1850-1933 Application for Land Grant re Fenian Raids, 1903
War effort on the Home Front Ruth McCowan letters, 1916-18
Laying a foundation for the Scarborough Museum Community Day, 1922
James Whiteford McCowan, 1814-1897 Councillor
Hannah Ashbridge, 1854-1935 Co-Founder of Lakeview Womens' Institute, 1914
Ashley McCowan Church Leadership
Robert E. Stobo Hero makes the supreme sacrifice, 1916
The Fenian Threat Scarborough's superior response
Elections, New Right to Vote and "Secret" Ballots 1917
Obligations of Youth Putting out a grass fire on the way to school, ca 1935
Alexander McCowan, 1853-1939 MPP, Founder of Ontario milk marketing movement
Firefighting 1925-53


Some other Stories and Information
on this Web Site Relating to

Public Service, Leadership, Civic Duty and Democracy
(Other than the above Links and their Child Links)
(Generally from Back Issues of Scarboro Heights Record)
The Maple Leaf Forever By Alexander Muir, 1830-1906
Bill and Nancy McCowan 48 page publication, commitment to Church
Balancing Work and Play Sense of Community
Community Studies Scholarship In Memory of Janet McCowan Fincham
Evolving Nature of Community
James M.T. Weir, 1881-1975 "Pick up your money and get off my land"
James Chester, 1841-1908 President of Toronto Milk Producers Association
David McCowan, 1849-1930 Taking Public Service West
Leading the Scottish Enlightenment
Great Reform Bill
Creating an Institution


Here are a few notes about some of the McCowans who have served Scarborough well, both in municipal administration and in the context of local agriculture, the backbone of Scarborough's prosperity for 150 years:

grainprz.jpg (30527 bytes)

By 1880, the Scarboro Fall Fair had earned a reputation as:

... one of the best Township fairs we know of... The live stock exhibit this year was good, and comprised many of the prize animals at the Industrial and Provincial Exhibitions... About 1,000 entries were made, and there were, we should judge, 1,500 to 2,000 people on the grounds.

The continued success of Scarborough Fair toward the end of the 19th century may, at least, be partly attributed to the energy of Alexander McCowan (1853-1939):

We the President and members of the Scarboro Agricultural Society, cannot let this opportunity pass, without expressing our appreciation of the able manner in which you have conducted the affairs of the Society. During the time you have held the position of Secretary, we have noticed with great pleasure your efforts to please and give satisfaction, to all who have come in contact with you. We would ask you to accept this token of our appreciation and to bid you and your wife a prosperous journey through this life, and may it be crowned with happyness and prosperity.

Alex balanced his hectic farming activities with the business of the Agricultural Society. On August 1, 1892, Alex "finished making out prize list for Fair in forenoon". On September 26 he was "making entries till 12 o'clock. Got them all done that was in". On the 28th "a lot more entries came in. Got through about 11:00". September 29, the day of the Fair, was a "fine morning" and the very busy fellow "started for Fair, but had to turn back for tickets. Had a very good Fair on the whole. $270 gate receipts and stand." Two days later Alex "made out prize list for Pickering News. Got $1 for doing it".

Many of the Scots in Scarborough earned reputations for their farming skills and successes at fairs. Their enterprise, competitive spirit and dedication to public service were passed onto their family. Alex McCowan, Conservative MPP for East York riding, 1905-1913, and Sheriff of York County, 1913-1934, received his agricultural and public service education from his father, James Whiteford McCowan (1814-1897):

There was scarcely an agricultural exhibition in either county or township in connection with which the name of James McCowan did not appear as a prize winner for the last half century... [Two sons,] George and Alexander, who live on the homestead, lots 32 and 33, concessions C and D, composed of 220 acres, being two as highly cultivated farms as are to be found in the township... For seven years he represented the township in the Municipal Council.

Similarly, Alex's cousin, Robert McCowan, was on Scarborough Council for a number of years and Township Reeve for three. A meticulous farmer, he spared no effort when it came to his prize grain. His daughter, Ruth, must be given some credit for his exhibition successes:

We have all been busy picking over oats. Papa is sowing a field for the contest and there must not be any weeds. It is a tiresome job, and there is still a bag and a half to do, a whole day's work. I have not been off the place except to church on Sunday.

In early August, 1918, Robert or "Papa" was:

a judge in the standing crop competitions this year, and is away to Bobcaygeon for the rest of the week. Then he is going out to New Liskeard and Cochrane. Papa told me if I would help him make a sheaf for the Ex, he would give Mamma and I the money he got for it.

Ruth, reported the results: "we got the prize for our sheaf and the grain as well. They are being sent down to Ottawa Fair next week. Aunt Jenny Neilson got first prize for her socks."

Robert McCowan was nearly always awarded first prize at the Canadian National Exhibition for his sheaf of oats. He won the world's prize for grain at Wembly, London, England.

From Fairs and Frolics: Scottish Communities at Work and Play (citing, in particular,  the Ruth McCowan Heron letters, the Alex McCowan 1892 diary, a framed presentation to Alex McCowan and Annis Annals)
Scarboro Heights Record V7 #1