William "Harold" McCowan was the second son of Robert and Hannah McCowan. Until 1950 he and his older brother, Ashley, farmed the almost-200 acres on the east side of McCowan Road between Eglinton Ave. and Lake Ontario. (Their father had sold some of the south farm to the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1916.) Ashley and his wife, Flo Green, and family lived in the re-built farmhouse that still stands at 23 McCowan Road. Harold and his wife, Jennie Purdie, and their family of five (Bob, Jack, Helen, Bill and Jim) lived in the huge Queen Anne style farmhouse that stood until 1975 at 3100 Kingston Road on the east side of where Arby's is now. This house replaced the regency cottage in which William Ewart Young of McLeod, Young, Weir was born. The third farmhouse (beside Cliffcrest church) was built in 1917 for Robert and Hannah McCowan. In 2012, the beautiful oak panelling, window and door casings (salvaged in 1983) were incorporated into Bill and Nancy McCowan's addition in Pickering.
William Harold McCowan
By Helen Thomson and Jack McCowan Dr. Stephenson was "preaching for a call to St. Andrew's" one Sunday and stayed at our place that night. Mom and Dad gave up their bedroom to him. I don't recall just where they slept but, in any event, Dad got up early to go to the barn the next morning. He soon realized that all he had to wear were his Sunday clothes. Dad didn't want to disturb Dr. Stephenson, so he put on one of the boys' old hockey sweaters. It was rather tight but I guess he got his chores done.
Dad always liked his oatmeal porridge for breakfast. He cooked it the night before in the double boiler. He would have it heating up for breakfast while he was doing his chores. (I understand that my brother Bill more or less continued this tradition for many years until Nancy started to buy the three minute oatmeal.) During the war, there was a sugar shortage so we put honey on our porridge. Albert Parrat had beehives in our old orchard so we always had plenty of honey for the winter.
My Father really enjoyed gardening, lawn bowling, and curling and had won quite a few trophies and prizes in bowling and curling. He was a member of the Scarborough Kiwanis Club, the Royal Canadian Curling Club, and was a lifelong member of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, where he was treasurer for many years.
He and my Mother were able to travel to some extent, the first long trip was sailing via Empress of Australia to England, touring the British Isles and Europe, and returning via the Empress of France ship. They travelled across the United States by train to California. They drove to British Columbia, to the Maritimes, to Florida, and had many visits to most parts of Ontario. He died on the curling rink between Christmas and New Years, 1964. My Mother died in October, 1979. The following notice of my father's death was in the 1964 Annual Report of St. Andrew's Church.
As the year drew to a close, Harold McCowan, who had served faithfully as our Treasurer for many years, was called to a well-earned reward in the greater service of the Master. Harold's experience and quiet wisdom gave guidance to all members of the Board, both past and present, and enriched the entire life of our church. (Board of Managers Report)
The Session regrets the passing of Mr. W. H. McCowan who has been with this congregation all his life. He was elected to the Board of Managers in 1929 and devoted himself most diligently in carrying out the responsibilities which were placed upon him. The Session extend their deepest sympathy to his wife and family and thank God for having had Mr. McCowan with us for so many years.
From The Scarboro Heights Record V3 #2
Father Knows Best
When we went to roll a field with the roller, Dad always warned us not to let the lines from the horses drag on the ground behind the rollers. If the horses backed up, the rollers would tighten-up the lines and pull the horses back, and up and over.
Another warning was that, when driving a load of hay or grain into the barn, to keep the wagon close to the other mow. This was so that, as you pulled the hay-fork back to the gate (and this took quite a pull), if the trip-rope broke, you would hit the hay or grain in the mow and not fall off the wagon. One particular day we were just starting to hay and there was nothing in the centre mow. As Dad pulled the rope back, the trip-rope broke and he took a somersault off the wagon and landed on his back on the floor. He bounced back up about as quick as he landed "Galblasting the Confounded Thing" (he never swore). He said to get the extension ladder, and we put it on top of the load of hay. He went up to the carrier and put another rope on. I never heard him tell anyone or complain about having a sore back.
I heard a story about Uncle Ashley once, and I believe it is true. When they finished building the big barn on McCowan Road, Uncle Ashley climbed up to the top of it and hung from the hay-fork track. He went hand-over-hand the full length of the barn. He would have been in his mid-twenties at the time.
From James McCowan Family from 1833
Dad and Uncle Ashley put in a subdivision plan for the north side of the Kingston Road. They put in water and roads and sold lots to various builders -- Cairns, McBride, Blake, along with others. They also sold land to H. A. Halbert Public School and provided another five acres for parkland by the school. The park was called McCowan Park. Dad cut the ribbon for the opening. When Stobo's farm was subdivided, more land was added to the park and it was decided to call it H. A. Halbert Park - or Playfield. Our land on the south side of the Kingston Rd. was subdivided the same way.